Billy Strings to Make Network Television Debut
You were warned around here many moons ago to keep a close eye on Billy Strings to potentially become one of the next big breakout artist from the independent music scene similar to what we’ve seen from Tyler Childers, Cody Jinks, Sturgill Simpson, and others. And on Monday night (7-20), the bluegrass wizard will be taking a big symbolic step by making his network television debut.
Billy Strings will appear on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live Monday night with guest host Joel McHale at the helm. It will be quarantine style, with Strings streaming live from Nashville, where he has currently been participating in his “Streaming Strings Tour” broadcasting live from venues throughout Nashville in ticketed livestream events with no crowds and limited support crew.
Starting late last week, Strings did two shows from The Brooklyn Bowl, and the famous Nashville bluegrass haunt The Station Inn, and will resume the tour Wednesday and Thursday (22nd & 23rd) at The City Winery streaming via nugs.net, and then at the Exit/In Friday and Saturday (24th & 25th) via TourGigs, and then wrapping up at 3rd and Lindsley Sunday, July 26th broadcast on nugs.net.
A bluegrass flatpicking guitar player that is second to none in this generation or any other, Billy Strings has caught the imagination of a new generation of string music fans, stretching the possibilities of what bluegrass can be, while also working in elements of the jam band experience yet still staying firmly grounded in the roots. Both his speed and compositional imagination has won him fast fans growing at an exponential pace, and he may soon put bluegrass in a pantheon it hasn’t seen in many years.
Check local listing times for the Jimmy Kimmel Live performance.
July 20, 2020 @ 6:42 pm
This is great news and excellent timing for him with another week of shows to go.
I’ve been loving the livestreams. He a phenomenon as a guitar player and the band kicks ass.
July 22, 2020 @ 8:29 am
Past time for this to happen. This young man has burned the strings up for a long time. Can listen to my lay for hours. So much fun.
July 22, 2020 @ 10:31 am
Billy Strings is a National Treasure.
July 20, 2020 @ 7:12 pm
Watching Billy tear it up on Marcus King’s livestream right now. Those two are unstoppable.
July 21, 2020 @ 5:27 pm
They’re an incredible combination.
July 20, 2020 @ 7:21 pm
I say this only half heartedly, and not to be snarky or to start an argument…part of me is surprised that bluegrass is still ok to be on one of these shows. Maybe that’s silly…just my gut reaction in reading this.
July 20, 2020 @ 11:50 pm
Why? there’s pretty much no bigotry or even racially charged content within bluegrass. There’s probably a handful of songs across 4 generations of artists, but that handful would be literally enough to count on both hands unless you find some obscure racist bluegrass band. Most just told stories of love, vengeance, pride in the geographical location in which they lived, and covers/adaptations of gospel music. There’s really not much room for bigotry in the genre, although it is absolutely not very racially diverse, not by any sort of intention within the genre. There’s definitely a lot of bluegrass fans of different backgrounds, but the musicians driven to write it and the fans are definitely predominantly white. And again that is in no way by any sort of design or decision. It’s definitely a genre that will take a long time to reach out to others, but it already has. If you attend a modern bluegrass festival/jamgrass festival, you’ll see a lot more diversity than you’d think, even though it’s still skewed. Afters listening to hundreds and hundreds of hours of bluegrass old and new, there’s really nothing much to consider questionable when it comes to modern standards of decency and equity.
July 20, 2020 @ 11:52 pm
And Billy Strings in particular is a very progressive artist in both his lyrics and his playing. He absolutely speaks to a much broader swath of people, and his lyrics are much more universal.
July 21, 2020 @ 7:22 am
I don’t think he meant that he personally believes there is anything wrong with bluegrass. But it wouldn’t surprise me if some frustratingly ignorant human being decided that it was suddenly ‘evocative’ of an ‘oppressive culture.’ I can certainly see that happening in today’s world, especially on a show like Kimmel’s (though I like Joel McHale). Which is sad because Billy Strings is a phenomenal instrumentalist and has a good voice to boot. And what you say here is all accurate and true.
July 21, 2020 @ 8:04 am
July 21, 2020 @ 9:47 am
See seaks comment below…
Didn’t take long,
July 21, 2020 @ 9:52 am
One could turn this into a drinking game, really. Unbelievable.
July 20, 2020 @ 8:20 pm
He and his band are amazing – so happy that we have broken away from the big record labels and independent musicians are actually taking over – I have not listened to terrestrial radio in years – this is the good stuff – Congrats to Billy and his band!
July 20, 2020 @ 9:34 pm
Billy Strings a company..
July 21, 2020 @ 12:02 am
He is one of the best flat pickers I have ever seen.
July 21, 2020 @ 12:26 am
To bad its on Jimmy Kimmel and alot of people wont watch it because it Jimmy Kimmel show…billy is a great artist and has worked hard to get where he’s at.
July 21, 2020 @ 8:12 pm
July 21, 2020 @ 7:21 am
Immensely happy for Billy to get the platform, but thought it was a very average performance by him.
I imagine he was probably pretty damn nervous and under a time constraint though, so I’ll give him a pass.
July 21, 2020 @ 8:26 am
I love bluegrass, and I like Billy Strings, but …. it’s yet another white male, following other white males (and no, I don’t buy that there are zero equally talented women, PoC). It’s just exhausting, seeing even in independent music, the same cultural uniformity.
July 21, 2020 @ 6:21 pm
So just because he’s a white guy means he can’t be on TV?
July 22, 2020 @ 7:22 am
100% did not say that. I pointed out that the only people coming out of this scene are white males… and that’s disappointing
July 22, 2020 @ 8:30 am
I can think of numerous women who are at least bluegrass friendly that are doing pretty good for themselves, like Sierra Hull, Sarah Jarosz, Molly Tuttle, and Sarah Watkins. Alison Krauss came out of the bluegrass scene. Rhonda Vincent, too. A few other older names that I know of but don’t know their music very well are Laurie Lewis, Lynn Morris and Claire Lynch, but at least I’ve heard of them. I don’t know that bluegrass is quite the men’s club that it was in the beginning.
July 22, 2020 @ 8:55 am
Great how many of them have had live TV appearances (and btw I was not limiting my comments to blue grass only)? If you look at a independent music festival bill, how many non white male headliners do you see? What percentage of the overall performer list is non-white male?
July 22, 2020 @ 10:02 am
Charley Crockett has a real chance to step up into that upper tier of independent country performers with his upcoming album. People are real hungry for his kind of sound, and it’s the right moment for a guy like him.
As I said in my last article on Margo Price, she was supposed to be the artist with a woman’s take on the country music insurgency. The press most certainly did everything they could to make it that way. But now she has made a rock album, and once again she proves she just doesn’t have the selling or staying power as her male counterparts. Her new album debuted at #17 in country with only 6,200 sales and streaming equivalents total. To put that in perspective, that is just 100 units over “Purgatory” by Tyler Childers, which was released three years ago.
When looking for women who could fulfill that role, I definitely think they could emerge from the bluegrass scene. I’ve mentioned Sarah Jarosz before. Molly Tuttle is another good candidate, but she needs to figure out how to balance her guitar talent with her songwriting aspirations. Sierra Hull is another good name. I think it’s easy for us to overlook bluegrass as a proving ground. In a few years, Billy Strings may be bigger than everyone.
July 22, 2020 @ 10:26 am
It looks like Billy Strings is has been blowing up lately in the NYC area. Looks like he sold out two shows at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY (about 3,000 tickets, I think) and has sold out two more that are currently scheduled for December. Those are roots music superstar numbers.
It seemed like Molly Tuttle’s star was starting to rise pre-COVID. She was going to headline the Birchmere here in the DC area in April, after playing a show on a previous tour at the smaller Pearl Street Warehouse. I was going to go, but of course, it got canceled.
The new one from Courtney Marie Andrews drops on Friday. I really like what I’ve heard from it so far.
July 21, 2020 @ 7:15 pm
Even Jason Isbell cringes at this post.
July 22, 2020 @ 7:17 am
I am calling it. This guy is a Poe.
July 22, 2020 @ 11:05 am
Had the exact same thought, honestly.
July 21, 2020 @ 11:02 am
Billy plays with tons of talented women. Search for Molly Tuttle, his old roommate.
July 21, 2020 @ 5:39 pm
They’re in a new add for Fender together.
July 21, 2020 @ 12:49 pm
Billy’s awesome. I was fortunate to see him in Jackson, MS this year before the pandemic shut down concerts. I purchased his CDs earlier this month too and need to look at maybe catching one of his streaming shows this weekend…
July 21, 2020 @ 3:26 pm
Just got your email wed aft, 2 days to late to catch billy. Country music won’t be saved at your rate.
July 21, 2020 @ 7:11 pm
I’m gonna get crucified here for this…..I’m not a huge fan. Is he immensely talented? Yes. But his songs bore me and his voice is a tad weak. Again the kid is an incredible musician and I respect the shit out of his craft it just doesn’t excite me.
July 21, 2020 @ 7:30 pm
I agree actually. I tried getting into him. He’s technically good, and seems like a good dude, but I’ve yet to be engaged by his music. Not that they need to be compared, but I’m much more into Molly’s playing, singing, and songwriting.
July 21, 2020 @ 7:43 pm
You have to see Billy Strings live to get the full experience.
July 22, 2020 @ 12:26 am
Agree. The pre recorded stuff is above my pay grade, but live he’s incredible! I’ll always support this kid and wish the best for him!
July 22, 2020 @ 4:55 pm
2018: Billie Strings and band opened the Telluride Bluegrass Festival on Thursday morning. Late Friday afternoon, after driving some 1400+ Miles he performed ahead of Tyler Childers at the Whimmydiddle Festival in Hamilton OH just north of Cincinnati. Incredible performance, later stating they were exhausted. He’s amazing with any stringed instrument. Between Billy and Tyler it was a concert for the ages.
Nancy Aaron Freund
August 31, 2020 @ 7:46 pm
A 19 year old phenom, named BILLY STRINGS got his first paying gig at my little 90 seat tavern in Traverse City, MI called LITTLE BOHEMIA. He played every Thursday with local Mandolin Master DON JULIN for nearly 3 years from December 2011 to October 2014. He’s an amazing and talented young man; I am so very proud of his success. I told him in March 2012, “You’re going places Billy! I want you to know that in my opinion, you are Elvis reincarnated with a different genre.” His reply was absolutely priceless, he said, “Ok, cool man!”