Images from the Billy Strings Renewal Festival in Colorado

Billy Strings at the Renewal Festival in Colorado, September 2021 – photo © Chad Zellner

The Billy Strings phenomenon is something that must be seen to be believed, something many bluegrass lovers have not yet been able to do. A very talented young guitarist and vocalist, with a tight band of professional pickers, has managed to combine bluegrass music with headbanging and a rock n roll attitude, and attracted a huge and loyal audience to his music. There is nothing sedate or ‘traditional’ about his presentation, but he is entertaining his zealous fans with acoustic guitar, banjo, mandolin, and upright bass, playing in a bluegrass style.

And he is selling out large venues all over the United States, and headlining jamgrass festivals, bringing in a young, raucous, and dedicated fan base that wouldn’t know Ralph Stanley from a hole in the ground. But we can’t all come into bluegrass through Flatt & Scruggs and The Stanley Brothers, and Billy is winning over a new audience for the music we all love, doing it his way.

Who could have predicted it?

This past weekend a two-day outdoor festival was held in conjunction of the release of the latest Billy Strings album on Rounder Records, Renewal. Billed as the Billy Strings Renewal Festival, it was held in the Rocky Mountains near Beuna Vista, CO on The Meadows Farm, a 100 acre facility with beautiful natural vistas and a creek running through, a perfect space for rough camping and a concert area with 360° views of the 14,000 foot Collegiate Peaks.

Only 5,000 tickets were made available, in keeping with the wishes of the property owners and the desire of the promoters to respect this lovely natural place.

Photographer Chad Zellmer was on hand, and shared some terrific images from the festival. It would seem a good time was had by all.

Here is the first single from the Renewal album, one called Fire Line.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.