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Billy Strings in concert in France, Fall Tour 2023

11-22-2023

This post is available in  French or  English.

Billy Strings
 Billy Strings 

William Lee Apostol, has not finished surprising us! At 31, he's a frenetic and exciting live performer who says: "We'll never be a band that sells a million records. We're just a band that's going to sell a million tickets".

Born in Lansing, Michigan, it was his aunt who spotted his talent early on and named him Billy Strings. His music reflects his deep connection with the traditional sounds of bluegrass, and his stepfather Terry Barber, a guitarist renowned in Michigan and the Midwest, introduced him to the "high, lonesome sound", while pushing back the boundaries of the genre with his innovative approach and youthful enthusiasm. A talent that seems limitless at the tip of his mediator.
Music helped him through a difficult youth, with a mother and stepfather who were hard drug users. He left home at 14, living a precarious existence until a friend's mother took him in and helped him complete his secondary education.
After graduating from school, he escaped his hometown and encountered the sound that would become his inspiration and salvation - rock-influenced jam-grass bands such as Yonder Mountain String Band and Greensky Bluegrass, whose mandolin player, Paul Hoffman, became a friend and mentor. I'd like to take this opportunity to recommend this excellent group to you. Billy's energy comes from his rock metal period, where the speed of his playing is also very present.
The title of Strings' 2017 debut album, Turmoil and Tinfoil, captures a childhood spent surviving poverty in small-town Michigan after losing his father to a heroin overdose at the age of two.
After more than 10 years on the road, playing 200 concerts a year, Strings signed with the prestigious independent label Rounder and produced the successful album Home in 2019. In 2021, he released Renewal, which won Best Bluegrass Album at the 63rd GRAMMY Awards, followed by his latest album, Me/And/Dad, featuring new versions of fourteen bluegrass and country classics with his father-in-law Terry Barber.

Affiche FALL TOUR - PARIS 2023 - Jam Hall
Affiche FALL TOUR - PARIS 2023
 - Jam Hall
 - Jam Hall
 

In 2023, he began his Fall Tour outside the USA, and after concerts in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and before the UK, he was in France in Paris on 13 November 2023, in the magnificent venue of La Cigale for more than 2 hours of concert in 2 sets with 20 songs.
This Parisian venue, La Cigale, is a listed historic monument and is famous for having welcomed over a million spectators and 4,000 artists, including famous stars such as Eric Clapton, J. Beck, Allman Brothers, Johnny Winter and Prince...
Last Monday, around 1,200 spectators were totally carried away by the Billy Strings phenomenon and his music.
The community of French bluegrass friends and musicians was in full attendance, as were many Americans. An intergenerational audience captured by the energy of the first track, Daisy.
Billy's right hand is precise, the sound crisp and clear, even at very high tempos. Billy is also an excellent singer, and his lyrics are incisive and committed.
Over the last few years, guitarists like Tommy Emmanuel, Molly Tuttle, Brian Sutton and the young Chris Luquette have accustomed us to such virtuosity that we might not be surprised any more. But Billy Strings manages to surprise us even more with an avalanche of notes with astonishing phrasing, punctuated by dissonant chords.
What's more, the arrival of pedals and various foot switches in bluegrass music has enriched both the playing and the sound. Billy Strings goes much further with his 27 effects pedals, which he uses with ease and without detracting from his guitar playing - quite the opposite, in fact.

4 exceptional musicians accompany him with unrivalled energy. The unity and cohesion of the Billy Strings Band is impressive.
A real alchemy!
Jarrod Walker is an accomplished mandolinist, a former pupil of Missy Raines & The New Hip and the Grammy-nominated Claire Lynch Band.
Alex Hargreaves is destined to become one of the fiddle giants of the 21st century. He draws his inspiration from a wide variety of genres and traditions. Based in Brooklyn, NY, Alex has toured with Jerry Douglas, David Grisman, Bela Fleck, Danilo Perez, Sarah Jarosz and performed with many other musicians, including the Punch Brothers, Sierra Hull, Steve Martin and Kacey Musgraves.
Billy Failing, banjo and guitar player, songwriter and composer, is an energetic and inventive musician who spent 2 years at Berkeley College, where he was influenced by Wes Corbett and Bêla Fleck. At the Paris concert, he surprised us with a duet with Billy Strings on clawhammer banjo on the track Dos Banjo.
Royal Masat, a double bassist with a rich playing style, is as close as possible to each musician. Accompanying Billy Strings is quite a challenge for this musician, who toured on the bus with the family band Masat Family from the age of 7, at bluegrass festivals where he played the fiddle. He took up the double bass shortly afterwards under the influence of his mother, also a double bass player. He also developed his playing with jazz standards.
His meeting with Billy Strings was to prove decisive in his career.
Standing on his own two feet, he dances with his double bass with impressive stage presence.
In conclusion, it has to be said that the bluegrass scene hasn't seen such a surge in popularity for a long time. It's here to stay, and it'll be here again when Béla Fleck comes to France and Europe next January.
Billy Strings' concert was a perfect balance of progressive bluegrass with a psychedelic 70s feel, and more traditional songs. The evening ended with a lively Long Gone.
Thanks Billy! and thanks for the lovely 'Thank You Paris' video!

Rolling Stones magazine said of him: "Watching him on stage is a bit like watching a hummingbird in its natural state".

Article rédigé par Philippe Boutet

 

 

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