Billy Strings Gets Grungy at the Ryman with Alice in Chains, Nirvana Covers

Billy Strings continues to be one of the most interesting artists in roots music. For years, he has been hailed as a bluegrass phenomenon. He walks a tightrope between being an innovative and modern artist and exhibiting a deep love and dedication for American folk music traditions. As a result, he has been the magnet that drew many younger fans to bluegrass and old-time music.

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Strings has a deep catalog of original songs from which to pull. At the same time, he peppers his sets with bluegrass standards and covers of artists like Doc Watson and The Grateful Dead. In short, one never knows exactly what they’ll hear when they buy tickets to one of his shows. They just know it will be good and with the prowess of Strings and his band, that’s enough.

[RELATED: Watch Billy Strings Join Tony Trischka for “Brown’s Ferry Blues” the Lead Single from ‘Earl Jam: A Tribute to Earl Scruggs’]

 In a recent show at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, he showed that he doesn’t limit himself to a single style or genre. He did so with several spot-on grunge covers. He worked “Something in the Way” and “About a Girl” by Nirvana, “Nutshell” by Alice in Chains, and “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town” by Pearl Jam into his two-set show at the Mother Church.

Billy Strings Covers Grunge Greats

A few fan-shot videos from Strings’ show at the Ryman last night (February 25) have surfaced. In one, he performs a spot-on cover of Nirvana’s “Something in the Way.” He and the band didn’t do a bluegrass arrangement of the song. Instead, they played it more or less how the Seattle-based band recorded it. While the song is technically simpler than the blazing-fast bluegrass that he usually plays, it remains a testament to both his range and eclectic taste in music.

[RELATEDL Billy Strings Performs Waylon Jennings Classic With 10-Year-Old Myles Gee in Nashville, Emotions Flow]

Strings showed the same restraint with his cover of “Nutshell.” He and the band played it straight and his voice and guitar work were right on target for the Alice in Chains classic. However, that didn’t last long. He transitioned from the grunge classic into the “Red Rocking Chair,” a traditional tune on which he was able to unleash his signature brand of lightning-fast picking.

[RELATED: Watch Billy Strings and Tool Rock Out During Surprise On-Stage Collaboration In Salt Lake City]

Featured Image by Erika Goldring/Getty Images for Americana Music Association

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