Billy Strings concluded a two-night run at Bank Of New Hampshire Pavilion in Gilford, New Hampshire on Sunday. The guitarist and his band debuted a cover of The Doors’ “Riders On The Storm” at the end of the second set. Billy also performed a number of Jerry Garcia-related tunes on what would have been the legendary Grateful Dead guitarist’s 79th birthday.
Billy Strings kicked off the set solo with “Guitar Peace” from his Grammy-winning 2019 album, Home. Billy then headed into the title track of the album and was joined by banjo player Billy Failing. Bassist Royal Masat and mandolinist Jarrod Walker then came aboard and Failing introduced the debut of his instrumental “Charlie’s Birthday Breakdown,” by saying, “this for a very special boy, a very special birthday boy. It’s not even his birthday but we’re playing the song anyway.” “Charlie’s Birthday Breakdown” would lead into “Dealing Despair.”
A segment of Larry Sparks’ “John Deere Tractor,” “Ice Bridges” and the traditional “Raleigh and Spencer” followed before the band delivered “Dreadful Wind & Rain,” another traditional recorded by Jerry Gracia and David Grisman, which led into “Red Rocking Chair.” After The Stanley Brothers’ “White Dove,” “On The Line” headed into “Train 45” with a train theme developing to close out the first set.
The second set got underway with Tony Rice’s “Manzanita” followed by “This Old Home.” A pairing of Doc Watson’s “The Train That Carried My Girl From Town” and the trad “Black Mountain Rag” came next ahead of the newer Billy tune “Wargasm.” A trifecta of Jerry-related tunes in the Grateful Dead’s “Dire Wolf,” Elizabeth Cotten’s “Oh Babe It Ain’t No Lie” and GD’s “Wharf Rat” followed ahead of Billy’s new single, “Fire Line,” from his newly announced album Renewal.
Things then got locomotive again with The Seldom Scene’s “Old Train.” Next up came the title track to Billy’s 2017 album Turmoil & Tinfoil, which served as a springboard into “Riders On The Storm.” While the band appears to have teased the song in previous years, the New Hampshire performance seemed to be the first full performance of The Doors classic, which would head back into “Turmoil & Tinfoil” to close out the set. But Billy had one more Jerry-connected tune up his sleeve with an encore of “Rosa Lee McFall.”
Listen to full-show audio below via Phil Fernandez:
Setlist (via Billy Strings Setlist Page)
Set One: Guitar Peace >> Home, Charlie’s Birthday Breakdown (1) > Dealing Despair, John Deere Tractor > Ice Bridges > Raleigh and Spencer, Dreadful Wind and Rain > Red Rocking Chair, White Dove, On The Line > Train 45
Set Two: Manzanita, This Old World > The Train That Carried My Girl From Town > Black Mountain Rag, Wargasm, Dire Wolf, Oh Babe It Ain’t No Lie, Wharf Rat, Fire Line, Old Train, Turmoil & Tinfoil > Riders on the Storm (2) > Turmoil & Tinfoil
E: Rosa Lee McFall
(1) FTP – Billy Failing
(2) FTP – the Doors