Billy Strings Plays Doc Watson Tribute Set At Newport Folk Festival

Guitarist Billy Strings led his band through a set in honor of the late Doc Watson on Sunday at Newport Folk Festival’s Folk On event. Billy’s set took place on the Quad Stage at Fort Adams State Park in Newport, Rhode Island yesterday afternoon and featured songs either written by or covered by Doc Watson.

Strings was joined by band mates Royal Masat on bass, Jarrod Walker on mandolin and Billy Failing on banjo at Newport. Walker, Strings and Failing each sat in a chair for their hour-long performance on Sunday instead of standing as they typically do.

“They had this big ol’ picture of Doc hanging in our Green Room, I just thought that was wonderful,” Strings said before opening with “Way Downtown,” the first of 12 Doc-associated songs the band played. “I love thinking about the history of this festival and the amazing things that happened here. There’s these great photos of Doc just hanging behind Bob Dylan, watching him play and Mississippi John Hurt back there. I’d like to take a page out of that book and play a few of those songs that maybe would’ve been happening back then at this place.”

Strings and company dusted off “Nashville Blues” following “Way Downtown.” The band then treated attendees to Doc’s versions of “Streamline Cannonball” by Roy Acuff and “Summertime” by George Gershwin. Next up was a run of “Let The Cocaine Be,” “Shady Grove” and “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down.” The guitarist’s first take on “Billy In The Lowground” since 2019 followed before the set came to an end with “She Makes My Love,” “The Train That Carried By Girl From Town” and “Black Mountain Rag.”

Billy Strings and his band close out the Quad Stage later today as part of the second Folk On event. Watch fan-shot video from Sunday’s set captured by Matt Frazier below:

Way Downtown

Shady Grove

Train That Carried My Girl From Town


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Matt Frazier (See 18 videos)
Billy Strings (See 324 videos)

Setlist (via PT Billy Strings)

Set: Way Downtown, Nashville Blues, Along The Road, Streamline Cannonball, Summertime, Let The Cocaine Be, Shady Grove, Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down, Billy In The Lowground, My Love Come Rollin’ Down, The Train That Carried My Girl From Town, Black Mountain Rag