Taking a break during a live stream rehearsal, Billy Strings is pulling up a pew in the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville to talk about what makes the Mother Church of Country Music so special.
“To be able to bring the Ryman into people’s living rooms, that’s pretty cool,” he says in the video below. “Maybe they’ll check it out and realize that whenever stuff opens up, they should come see a real show here.”
As anyone who’s already attended a Ryman show can attest, the acoustics are impressive, especially when it comes to bluegrass. As the IBMA Award-winning guitarist explains, “Something about this old wood, it just… works. It’s like an old church, you know? So many amazing songs ring out in here, and all the echoes of all the amazing artists from the past. It’s almost like you’re inside of an old guitar. It’s just been resonated so much that all the sounds really work well in here.”
Later this month, Billy Strings will compete for a Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album, for his exceptional 2019 album, Home. Although the Michigan native’s rise to bluegrass stardom may seem like an overnight success, he’s actually been at it quite a while, as he explains in this video, presented by Nissan.
“When I was really young, from the time I was born until about 5, 6, or 7 years old, I mostly listened to bluegrass. And then when I got a little bit older, my dad started showing me Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, and stuff like that. That led to even heavier music. I got to a certain point in middle school where I wanted to play music with people that were my age. Mostly the only bands that were really happening in the town I was in were metal bands. So I acquired a taste for the music and then joined a band,” he says. “I learned a lot about what I know about music from playing bluegrass, and I suppose I learned some musical stuff from the metal as well, but I know I took a lot of the stuff that I learned about performing from playing in the metal band.”
Even as he absorbed those other styles, bluegrass beckoned and he’s now one of the genre’s most promising artists and prominent ambassadors. He adds, “I think when I was in middle school, it’s not that I was embarrassed about playing bluegrass, but it was something that I did with my dad and his older friends, so I didn’t really feel like it was that hip. But then when I got over that phase I was in, I realized that it is super hip, and the musicians are really awesome. The guys who are playing the mandolin, fiddle, bass, and banjo in these bands, they really know how to play their instruments really well, and they spent a lot of time practicing. You know, this is where it’s at, really.”
Photo Credit: Emma Delevante
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