Billy Strings Debuts ‘The Gambler’ Cover In Las Vegas

Guitarist Billy Strings fit plenty of songs referencing gambling and sin into setlists for a two-night stand in Las Vegas. For instance, Strings, banjoist Billy Failing, bassist Royal Masat and mandolinist Jarrod Walker opened the run at Virgin Hotels’ Event Lawn on Friday with their first cover of the Kenny Rogers-popularized “The Gambler” and ended Saturday’s show with a rare take on The Flying Burrito Brothers’ “Sin City.”

“The Gambler” was written by Don Schiltz with Rogers’ version scoring him a #1 hit in 1978 and Grammy for best male country vocal performance in 1980. Strings and company followed “The Gambler” with Tony Rice’s “Tipper” and changed the lyric in “Everything’s The Same” from “I’m going to Florida” to “I’m going to Las Vegas.” The fitting “Must Be Seven” came next before the quartet delivered well-jammed versions of “Pyramid Country” and “Hide & Seek” along with a performance of Renewal single “In The Morning Light.” Billy capped Friday’s first frame with “A Robin Built A Nest On Daddy’s Grave,” the geographically-appropriate “Blackjack” and Renewal’s “Wargasm.”

Billy Strings played clawhammer banjo in joining Billy Failing on “Dos Banjos” to get Friday’s second set underway. Trains became a focus of the rest of the evening as “Slow Train,” “Old Train” and “Train 45” all saw action. Other highlights included a nicely extended “Living Like An Animal,” rare full-band “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down” and the full-band debut cover of Dave Evans bluegrass classic “One Loaf Of Bread.”

More songs referencing gambling and sin came on Saturday with at least seven mentions of the vices as per Kassidy Murphy. The band kicked off the show with their fourth ever cover of traditional folk song “Roving Gambler,” a song played often in the 1990s by Bob Dylan as Rob Turner pointed out. “Thirst Mutilator” then gave away to “Running” before Jarrod Walker’s “Show Me The Door” was followed by the pairing of “New Camptown Races” and “Unwanted Love.” The beloved “Dust In A Baggie” came after “All Of Tomorrow” and bled into “Dealing Despair.” Billy and the band closed the set with fan-favorite “Turmoil & Tinfoil.”

Saturday’s second set featured a pair of tunes discussing what can go wrong in Vegas early on with “If I Lose” and the Grateful Dead’s “Loser.” The frame also included four Renewal tunes in “Fire Line,” “Know It All,” “Red Daisy” and “Running The Route.” Strings and his mates didn’t leave the stage before offering their “Sin City” encore.

Watch fan-shot video from this weekend’s run below:

The Gambler

Roving Gambler

Setlists

Friday, September 3 (via PT Billy Strings)

Set One: The Gambler [1], Tipper, Everything’s The Same [2], Must Be Seven > Pyramid Country > Hide & Seek, In The Morning Light, A Robin Built A Nest On Daddy’s Grave > Blackjack, Wargasm

Set Two: Dos Banjos [3], Slow Train, This Old World, Living Like An Animal > Long Forgotten Dream, John Deere Tractor, Highway Hypnosis, One Loaf Of Bread [4], Old Train, Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down

Encore: Train 45

  • [1] – First Time Played
  • [2] – “I’m going to Vegas” lyric change
  • [3] – Billy & Billy duo, BS on clawhammer
  • [4] – First Time Played with full band

Saturday, September 4 (via Billy Strings Set List Page)

Set One: The Roving Gambler, Thirst Mutilator > Running, Show Me The Door, New Camptown Races > Unwanted Love, All of Tomorrow, Dust In A Baggie > Dealing Despair, Turmoil & Tinfoil

Set Two: If I Lose, On The Line, I’m Still Here > Running The Route, Loser, Know It All, Fire Line, Red Daisy, Away From The Mire

Encore: Sin City