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Billy Strings meets Music City: this week on The Green Room

Billy Strings gets ready for an interview in a Nashville recording studio.
Pam Holland
Billy Strings gets ready for an interview in a Nashville recording studio.

When Billy Strings decided to move from Northern Michigan last January, he wasn’t exactly sure where he wanted to go. He just knew he wanted to get away.

“I’m 23 years old and my feathers are fluffed, you know,” he explains. “Kind of just wanted to go see what was on the horizon.”

Credit Pam Holland

After considering places like Denver and New York, some friends convinced him to move south to Nashville. Billy says moving to the Music City has helped him grow as a musician, which is what he wanted.

“You walk into the market and you see Gillian Welch or Sam Bush walking into the grocery store,” he says. “That’s where all my heroes live, and now I get to just hang out and pick with them sometimes.”

Billy says he continues to tour heavily, but actually doesn’t gig much in Nashville. Instead, he uses the city as more of a base, and to pick up the industry side of the music business. When he isn’t touring, he loves to attend the various impromptu jam sessions that inevitably break out around town.

“Tuesday night I’ll get a text message, ‘Hey, we’re picking over at so and so’s house,’” says Billy  “I’ll show up, the next thing you know there’s 20 musicians there, all with their instruments out and we’re frickin’ belting Stanley Brothers songs in the kitchen.”

Billy says they’re all there  learning the music of Bill Monroe and the others that made bluegrass what it is. Learning and also putting their own twist on it.

Bluegrass was the music Billy Strings grew up with. For a while, he ventured off and played electric guitar and in a metal rock band. But he says bluegrass is where his heart is. “That mountain sound and the drive of it and everything,” he explains. “It’s just great music.”

Billy doesn’t necessarily have big dreams of becoming a big star. He just wants to play music and make a living if he can. And if he can’t, he says he’ll still play music and figure something else out for making a living. 

“I’m just doing what I think I should do and just trying to live a good life and play music,” he says. “I’m just really happy to be here, that’s all.”

To purchase Billy Strings newly released EP, click hereHe will also be back in Michigan for some August performances. He’ll be in Sault Ste. Marie on August 5th, and in Elk Rapids on August 6th. He’s playing at the Hoxeyville Music Festival August 19th and 21st, and in Petoskey on August 20th.

Dan Wanschura is the Host and Executive Producer of Points North.