Whether sharing stages with acoustic music royalty, crisscrossing the nation playing as a solo artist or performing high-energy, jaw-dropping sets at festivals, the reaction to Billy Strings tends to come in two varieties: “Who is this guy?” and “That kid can play!”
Raised in Michigan and based in Nashville, Strings — real name William Apostol — learned music from his father, who had learned it from his father, and his father before him. Maybe that’s why at 24, Strings’ songs, his articulation, his entire approach, sounds so authentic and steeped in tradition. Consider him the next in line of an Americana thread, not some upstart or bandwagon jumper.
While Strings’ profile as a guitarist and singer in the acoustic/bluegrass scene continues to grow, he has already earned some landmark achievements. He has been invited to play on stage with Del McCoury, David Grisman, Larry Keel, Sam Bush, Greensky Bluegrass, The Infamous Stringdusters, Leftover Salmon and more. He’s landed coveted slots at festivals like Pickathon, Merlefest, DelFest, High Sierra Music Festival, Grey Fox to name a few and he’s shared bills with popular touring acts Greensky Bluegrass, The Infamous Stringdusters, Yonder Mountain Stringband, Leftover Salmon, Cabinet and more. And the industry has taken notice: He just won IBMA 2016 Momentum Awards Instrumentalist of the Year for guitar, banjo and mandolin and was voted #1 in, scene tastemaker, Bluegrass Situation’s Top 16 of ’16.
While the Billy Strings phenomenon is best experienced live and in person — if you’re in Nashville, check him out during his weekly residency at The 5 Spot — if he’s not coming to your town anytime soon, there’s a self-titled EP he released in June of 2016 to dig into, a full-length debut on the way, and a slew of sessions for taste-making outlets like KEXP, The Bluegrass Situation and Second Story Garage available online.
What’s next for Billy Strings? 2017 has him in the studio working on his first full length LP, a slew of festival and tour dates including support slots for Railroad Earth and The Infamous Stringdusters, a handful of dates as part of David Grisman Bluegrass Experience and much, much more.