Words and photographs by Sugarwolf
The sound of bluegrass filled the Golden 1 Arena on Wednesday, Oct. 4, when Billy Strings brought his five-piece band to the Sacramento venue. The Lansing-born picking prodigy settled onto a dimly lit stage to play a lengthly song list weighted heavily with covers from The Stanley Brothers, Sam Patterson Trio, Arthur Collins, and Greensky Bluegrass (one of Billy’s favorite bands). A few tracks from Strings’ grammy award winning album, Home, made it to the setlist, as did a number of traditional covers. Billy opened the show with his bandmates which include banjo player Billy Failing, standup bassist Royal Masat, renown fiddler Alex Hargreaves, and mandolinist Jarrod Walker. The 5-piece band played the first third of the show together before moving off stage to allow Billy to perform solo numbers. They rejoined Billy two-thirds of the way through for a second set and encore. In a venue that commonly serves up rock, pop, and hip hop, Strings demonstrated that there’s an ample appetite for his brand of bluegrass. While it may be too early to bestow upon him the coveted label of crossover artist, his rapid rise and early successes have caught the attention of industry power brokers. It appears Billy’s train has left the station, destination …TBD.