Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Sex and drugs and Flatt and Scruggs


Just as I find myself humming this great tune from the new Billy Strings album, Renewal, there appears before me this fine article in the New York Times about the man himself. Here's a sample:

Billy Strings did not know what exactly had given him the hangover from hell. Was it the previous evening’s onstage bottles of beer or post-show cans of wine? The late-night tumblers of whiskey that Strings — then an unsigned 23-year-old bluegrass hot shot — bought to celebrate that profitable night in the summer of 2016? The endless bumps of cocaine?

Barreling down Interstate 85 the next afternoon through suffocating Southern heat, Strings just knew he’d made a mistake. Every 15 minutes, he shuffled outside to vomit until the rest of his band agreed that, if they were going to reach their South Carolina show, they couldn’t stop again. Strings hung his head from a window, streaking the van’s sides with last night’s regret. He swore he’d never again let the partying interfere with the playing. He has yet to take another drink.

“I had decided this music stuff could save my life,” Strings said by phone from a parking lot in Spokane, Wash., lounging in one of his twin buses. “Music was my one opportunity — otherwise, I was going back to being a meth head, overdosing, prison. I was not going to mess this up with booze.”

The guitar, after all, had given Strings purpose since he was a toddler, vying for validation in a home struck by drugs and tragedy. The instrument never betrayed him. In the five years since he vowed never to betray it, Strings has emerged as a premier bluegrass mind for this post-everything era.

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