Billy Strings stopped by The Jones Assembly in Oklahoma City on Wednesday. Billy unveiled an apt cover of JJ Cale’s “If You’re Ever In Oklahoma” in the city where Cale was born.
Billy Strings and his band — mandolinist Jarrod Walker, bassist Royal Masat and banjo player Billy Failing — kicked things off with the instrumental “Bronzeback” before jumping into “Must Be Seven” off Strings’ Grammy-winning 2019 album Home. Next, Billy utilized some fuzz effects on “While I’m Waiting Here” ahead of the Larry Sparks popularized “Slow Train” and Mel Tillis’ “Walk On Boy.” The band stretched out a bit on the Bill Emerson instrumental “Home Of The Red Fox” which saw Strings, Walker and Failing trading licks before Billy ramped things up with some more fuzz guitar and headed into Bill Monroe’s “Roll On Buddy, Roll On.”
The quartet then cooled things down with “Show Me The Door,” composed by Walker and frequent collaborator fiddler Christian Ward. “Show Me The Door” featured some classic bluegrass harmonies as did following number “Blue Mule,” penned by Peter Rowan while he was in the bluegrass supergroup Muleskinner. Just as they had done with Jimi Hendrix covers in Washington, Billy and company paid tribute to JJ Cale in his home state with “If You’re Ever in Oklahoma.” The song originally appears on the Oklahoma native’s second album, Really, and was also covered by Yonder Mountain String Band and others. “Away From The Mire” brought the first frame to a close.
The Tony Rice instrumental “Tipper” got the second set underway and the band sailed into “I’m Still Here,” which contained a “Last Train To Clarksville” tease, and Billy’s own instrumental, “Thirst Mutilator.” The galloping “Dealing Despair” capped off the seamless set opening segment. Billy then brought things down with “Love Like Me” before riling things back up on New Grass Revival’s “Whisper My Name.”
The new tune “This Old World,” appearing on Strings’ recently released album Renewal, followed ahead of a killer set-closing section which got going with a meaty “Meet Me At The Creek” featuring some more overdriven guitar from Billy. The band then took the Turmoil & Tinfoil cut into “Thunder,” Billy’s stellar composition with lyrics by Robert Hunter, ahead of a return to “MMATC.” The Flatt & Scruggs bluegrass standard “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down” would serve as the encore.
Setlist (via Billy Strings Setlist Page)
Set One: Bronzeback > Must Be Seven, While I’m Waiting Here, Slow Train, Walk On Boy, Home of the Red Fox > Roll On Buddy, Show Me the Door, Blue Mule, If You’re Ever In Oklahoma (1), Away From the Mire
Set Two: Tipper > I’m Still Here > Last Train To Clarksville > Thirst Mutilator > Dealing Despair, Love Like Me, Whisper My Name, This Old World, Meet me at the Creek > Thunder > Meet me at the Creek
E: Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down
(1) FTP JJ Cale