Billy Strings stopped by The Anthem in Washington D.C. on Saturday. The guitarist and his band debited an apt cover of the traditional “White House Blues.”
“White House Blues” was first recorded by Charlie Poole & The North Carolina Ramblers in 1926. Father Of Bluegrass Bill Monroe would later make the song a bluegrass standard. Billy Strings and his band — mandolinist Jarrod Walker, bassist Royal Masat and banjo player Billy Failing — kicked off their show in the nation’s capital with their debut of “White House Blues,” which traces the assassination of President William McKinley in Buffalo, New York in 1901. Billy would get a rise out of the audience on the “From Buffalo to Washington” line.
Strings and company continued with “Hide & Seek,” from his 2021 album Renewal, and another Monroe popularized tune, “A Good Woman’s Love.” The band then embarked on a nearly 20-minute excursion on a pairing of Bill Emerson’s “Home Of The Red Fox” and “Must Be Seven” from Billy’s Grammy-winning 2019 album Home. The first set also included “Watch It Fall,” “Red Daisy,” Love And Regret” and “Chris Henry’s “West Dakota Rose.” Billy closed out the frame with a pairing of New Grass Revival’s “This Heart Of Mine” and original “Everything’s The Same.”
Danny Barnes’ “Pretty Daughter” launched the second set. The quartet then offered up another Renewal cut in “This Old World” ahead of a two-song section containing Doc Watson’s “The Train That Carried My Girl From Town” and traditional “Black Mountain Rag.” The band then reeled off a number of originals in “Hellbender” and “Highway Hypnosis” ahead of a segment beginning with the Failing-penned “So Many Miles” which headed into “Running The Route” followed by “Long Forgotten Dream.”
The Grateful Dead staple cover “Me And My Uncle” then prefaced The Dillards’ bluegrass standard “The Old Home Place.” The quartet closed out the second set with a 15-minute outing on “Meet Me At The Creek” and JJ Cale’s “Ride Me High.” Billy Strings and company would retake the stage for an encore of Home closer, “Freedom,” which the band performed around a single mic.
Watch a clip of the “White House Blues” debut and also find full-show audio below via Alex Leary:
Setlist (via Billy Strings Setlist Page)
Set One: Whitehouse Blues (1), Hide & Seek, A Good Woman’s LoveHome of the Red Fox > Must Be Seven, Watch It Fall, Red Daisy, Love & Regret, West Dakota Rose, This Heart of Mine > Everything’s the Same
Set Two: Pretty Daughter, This Old World, Train That Carried My Girl From Town > Black Mountain RagHellbender, Highway Hypnosis, So Many Miles > Running the Route > Long Forgotten Dream > Me and My Uncle, Old Home Place, Meet Me at the Creek > Ride Me High > Meet Me At The Creek