Jamgrass prodigy Billy Strings played a scorching 28 song, 3 set show at famed Red Rocks Amphitheater on September 26, 2020. The crowdless, live-streamed event was the musical highlight of my summer – a sad but true statement on the reality of this COVID concertless time.
The show featured fan-favorites including ‘Away From the Mire’ and ‘Meet Me At the Creek’, plus traditional bluegrass, Grateful Dead and Beatles covers. Some will argue Strings is not a ‘real’ bluegrass artist and his shows are more similar to jamband concerts by Grateful Dead with loose setlists and long meandering jams, but his talent and independent style are undeniable.
The live-stream with seemingly limitless camera angles and drone footage provided unique and incredible views of Red Rocks and intimate concert footage. I’d never trade it for being there live, but it was a welcome night of music and unique views of one of the most spectacular music venues in the world.
Strings, at just 27 years old, is not your stereotypical bluegrass artist. Although he was introduced to bluegrass at an early age and influenced by the greats such as Del McCoury, David Grisman, and Bill Monroe he is also a rock and metal fan and influenced by Jimi Hendrix and Black Sabbath. I’d say it’s the best of both worlds; his fingerpicking is extraordinary and he brings energy to his shows that he learned playing in hard rock and indie bands in his teens.
His latest album, Home, released in 2019 reached number one on the Heatseekers and Bluegrass Albums charts. In January, Rolling Stone Magazine wrote an article entitled “Why Guitarist Billy Strings Is the Bluegrass Star You Don’t Want to Miss.” In it, Strings says “We’re never going to be a band that sells a million records. We’re just a band that’s going to sell a million tickets — one show at a time. That’s what we do. We’re a live band. Our thing is our show.”
Even watching a live-stream concert, that is abundantly clear.