Of Course This is What Billy Strings is Doing for His Next Album
This story has been updated.
Well, we knew it was bound to happen sooner or later. Though we all have fallen in love with bluegrass phenom Billy Strings as he’s taken the roots music world by storm to the point where his popularity has spilled out into the greater music landscape, you just had the sense that sooner or later he would jump the bluegrass tracks, fly away to greener pastures and wider expanses with the way he loves to experiment with different guitar sounds and jam band improvisation, and land somewhere completely detached from his bluegrass roots.
…and here he is announcing that his next proper studio album will be a straightforward bluegrass record of traditional classics, cut with the greatest bluegrass pickers in the world, and featuring none other than his father Terry Barber who instilled Strings with the love of bluegrass at an early age. I just don’t even know if this crooked ol’ world even deserves Billy Strings at this point.
“As long as I can remember I wanted to make a record with my dad,” says Billy. “I’ve been burning up and down the highways the last 12 years, and as time slips away, you start thinking, ‘I need to make time.’ It’s been a bucket list thing for me, something I’ve been afraid I wouldn’t find the time to do. And that scared me; not doing this record scared me.”
And so Strings got together an incredible wrecking crew of bluegrass musicians that includes mandolinist Ron McCoury, banjo player Rob McCoury (basically, the Travelin’ McCourys), fiddler Michael Cleveland, bassist Mike Bub, along with Jerry Douglas and Jason Carter, and put them all in the Nashville Sound Emporium. What they came up with will be released under the title Me / and / Dad on November 18th via Rounder Records.
Now I know what some will say: “Gee, sounds great. But I wish we could get another original record from Billy Strings.” Well don’t worry. There will be plenty of time for that. Let him recharge his creative batteries for a while, will ya? What this will be is that straightforward traditional bluegrass album of standards many other people have been wanting Billy Strings to make.
Even more cool, Billy Strings was able to hunt down the old Martin guitar his dad used to play when Billy was just a kid, and present it to his father. His dad had to pawn it off to help support the family. They were poor growing up, and the OSB walls adorning the album cover verifies this. Strings was able to relocate the instrument. “I’ve never been so dumbstruck in my life,” Terry says. “It was like bringing my mother out of the grave.”
Again, what planet is this Billy Strings dude from? “We’ve done these songs forever,” Strings says. “We get to the part where someone has to sing and we’ll look at each other: ‘You or me?’ We’ve been doing it since I was 3 years old.”
In the last few weeks, Billy Strings has been named the Americana Music Association’s Artist of the Year, and the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year. Ahead of the album, they’ve already released a couple of new tracks: “Long Journey Home” and “Life To Go” (listen below). Me / and/ Dad is now available for pre-order.
- Long Journey Home
- Life To Go
- Way Downtown
- Little Blossom
- Stone Walls and Steel Bars
- Little White Church
- Dig A Little Deeper (In The Well)
- Wandering Boy
- John Deere Tractor
- Frosty Morn
- I Haven’t Seen Mary In Years
- Little Cabin Home On The Hill
- Heard My Mother Weeping
October 3, 2022 @ 6:40 pm
Wow! Based on the two posted songs and the album’s track list, this looks like it’ll be a mighty fine record. That’s some solid gold bluegrass tunes and with a bunch of fantastic musicians, I’m putting it on my pre-order list. Also that’s very cool that Billy included his Dad on the album. Way to go! I do believe this album will quickly climb high on the bluegrass charts.
October 3, 2022 @ 6:45 pm
By no means is he George Jones, but Terry does a fine job on “Life to Go”. If this project doesn’t make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, I don’t know what will. Can’t wait to hear the rest!
October 3, 2022 @ 7:04 pm
“By no means is he George Jones, …”
Dam* straight Terry Barber is not George Jones…
Look at the wonderful young man Mr. Barber raised.
““As long as I can remember I wanted to make a record with my dad,” says Billy. “I’ve been burning up and down the highways the last 12 years, and as time slips away, you start thinking, ‘I need to make time.’ It’s been a bucket list thing for me, something I’ve been afraid I wouldn’t find the time to do. And that scared me; not doing this record scared me.””
Hats off to you Billy, you are a wonderful gentleman.
Hats off to you Trig, for the fine job that you do.
October 4, 2022 @ 3:20 pm
I’ve been singing Life to Go for many years (by myself most of the time) and I never thought of it as a bluegrass tune, and it doesn’t really come across that way here (the style is just like George’s original, except for the dobro for the electric guitar), but it sounds just fine whatever you call it. And btw, Trig, you sure set me up with that lede about Billy spreading his wings.
Sir Adam the Great
October 3, 2022 @ 6:53 pm
You had me in the first half, not gonna lie.
October 3, 2022 @ 6:55 pm
Billy is a good dude and an extremely talented musician.
October 3, 2022 @ 7:03 pm
Now that’s some musical integrity right there.
October 3, 2022 @ 7:27 pm
Way to go, kid. Beautiful.
October 3, 2022 @ 8:20 pm
Wow, this guy is special. Absolute respect to the guy.
October 4, 2022 @ 4:47 am
Fantastic artist,and song too.Stay strong man.
October 4, 2022 @ 1:20 am
Gather around children, let me tell you a tale of dark days in the music business.
It was the year 2022 and things were looking bad. All artists that we had looked to were turning their back on music lovers and were chasing gimmicks. Multiple disc albums abounded with more filler than substance, and broken songs with political undertones were causing divides.
Into this chaos came one man with more talent than any other in the genre. Carrying only an acoustic guitar, he set forth to save us from the scourge.
With nothing but talent, hard work, respect and generosity, Billy Strings saved us all.
So when you listen to an album of pure good music that takes you to new places while continuing the traditional music we love, remember to thank the one(s) who peacefully worked miracles.
October 4, 2022 @ 7:01 am
Perfectly said! Honestly can this kid get any better? Forget saving country music, Billy is saving all music. Counting the days down till he plays Pittsburgh this November, my only concern is this may be the last chance to see him in any smaller size venue.
October 4, 2022 @ 3:22 am
The part about Billy tracking down his father’s Martin for this project isn’t exactly right. Billy tracked down the guitar when he was just 17 and broke himself. The whole story is amazing how he found the guitar for sale in a guitar forum and had to talk the owner into holding onto the guitar while Billy made monthly payments. For the story, find “Billy Strings Interview” on the Thompson Guitars YouTube page,
October 4, 2022 @ 7:36 am
Yes, the way the story was presented to me is that all happened as part of this project, but I’m seeing the real story now. I think Rounder Records slipped that in without the proper time stamp to sort of embellish the story a little bit, though the fundamentals are true. In country music, the rule is usually to not let the truth get in the way of a good story. But the original story is a good story too.
October 12, 2022 @ 5:28 pm
Trigger, Bob Browning (a Texas Troubadour/ 1st electric Bass Player 4 Mr. Ernest Tubb) told me 1-time…the Late Great Minnie Pearl told him just what you said “never let the truth get in the way of a good song”.
All my best,
Rod ‘Corporal K.’ Kellow-
October 4, 2022 @ 4:51 am
Well said Blackh4t!
October 4, 2022 @ 5:58 am
Exactly my type of thing. You can go off into space if you have intimate knowledge of the fundamentals, personally I usually prefer the old school but if anyone is going to get me to listen to updated bluegrass it’s this guy!
October 4, 2022 @ 6:03 am
We are not worthy. It took me awhile, but I’m all in on Billy Strings and I can’t wait for this album.
Get a woman or man to look at you the way Willie Nelson looks at Billy. Have you seen some of the adoring pictures from this summer’s Outlaw Fest run? The number one complaint from artists participating in Outlaw Fest, Farm Aid, or the 4th of July Picnic is post pandemic they don’t get to go on the bus and interact with Willie. Billy was on the bus nightly and the pictures from onstage were priceless. I would expect word soon on Billy’s own strain of Willie Reserve. Hopefully, these two tour outside of Outlaw dates next summer.
October 4, 2022 @ 6:04 am
This is what should be on radio! True, unabashed, talent!
Dan Da Hootenanny
October 4, 2022 @ 6:49 am
I love Billy Strings and have booked him on many occasions and am thrilled with his success in reinvigorating the bluegrass scene. I do wish he would include an opener on his tours. Would be nice to share the touring success and get some of these struggling and incredibly talented bluegrass bands in front of his legions of fans.
November 18, 2022 @ 3:32 pm
Dan, there are a huge subset of his fans, including me, who are exploring all kinds of other young up and comers due to Billy. My wife and I went to see Molly Tuttle in St. Louis earlier this year because I had watched her play with Billy several times over the past few years. We got the added bonus of Ketch Secor opening for over an hour solo and we were in the front row. I only know who Sierra Hull, Sierra Ferrell, Michael Cleveland, Justin Moses, and others are due to getting into Billy’s music in 2019. And now my wife and I both are all in on all of it. We’re headed back to STL to see the Infamous Stringdusters in the same small venue this coming Sunday.
October 4, 2022 @ 7:07 am
Crazy story about the guitar! Now the real question is, will Billy take his dad on tour with him?
October 4, 2022 @ 7:27 am
Well that is just about the coolest thing. Like having your dad pitch to you in the Home Run Derby. Sounds great too!
October 4, 2022 @ 8:21 am
Heartwarming. Very exciting news as well.
John R Baker
October 4, 2022 @ 8:34 am
I can’t say that I am surprised at all. This is who he is and I had the sense he might do something like this from the Carter Guitar video he did with his dad.
I also don’t think he feels the tension between the traditional forms he’s mastered and the experiments that he does. “My Alice” ,the new tune he debuted at Renewal a few weeks back, is just more like traditional folk than anything he’s written before. But when he does another full album of original material he’ll probably go deeper with the other fusion experiments as well.
October 4, 2022 @ 10:55 am
Country music is dead as we know it. Oh wait, never mind. Its fine.
October 4, 2022 @ 3:42 pm
Fantastic! Love this and I can’t wait. I wish he would have made room for at least one female in the lineup. Sierra Hull comes to mind… Oh well, not even Billy Strings is perfect. 😜🤷🏼♀️
October 4, 2022 @ 5:51 pm
Like when he doesn’t overplay. Also like when he overplays.
October 5, 2022 @ 6:27 am
Looking forwards to this album.
October 5, 2022 @ 8:01 am
Billy and the band may be the best thing going in all of music right now. Who would have predicted 5 years ago that a bluegrass act would be one of the most popular tickets in American music? And, traditionally rooted bluegrass at that – while Greensky Bluegrass and their ilk are great, they’re as close to Pearl Jam as they are anything else – drawing upon strong songwriting and legitimately innovative arrangements within traditional structures.
After a lost two decades of electronically-driven “roots” music, it’s heartening to see real music with heart and soul selling out major venues once again.
Can’t wait for this album.
October 6, 2022 @ 12:35 pm
…great stuff!…authenitic down to the bone!
Butthurt country fans annoy me
October 8, 2022 @ 7:06 am
So many good videos of Billy & his dad out there. I prefer that type of tunes as opposed to his other output, but that’s just me.
Excited to hear this album.
October 8, 2022 @ 7:27 am
Won’t be long till Nashville has it’s claws in him