Billy Strings Wraps Deja Tu: Return to the Experiment Run at The Capitol Theatre
Photo by Jesse Faatz
Billy Strings returned to The Capitol Theatre on Sunday, Feb. 6, to close his Deja Tu: Return to the Experiment run. The four-night event was a sequel to an audience-less livestreamed performance at the Port Chester, N.Y. venue, the Deja Vu Experiment, a year before in February of 2021.
The final evening once again saw Strings and his band pay tribute to the Grateful Dead’s famous ESP experiments with Dr. Stanley Krippner at The Capitol Theatre back in February of 1971. Each evening the musician asked fans in person and at home to telepathically pass along an image to a specific individual. The recipients of the images included Béla Fleck (Feb. 3), Strings’ mother, Debra Apostol (Feb. 4) and Les Claypool (Feb. 5). On Sunday, fans were asked to send an image of an owl to Greensky Bluegrass’ mandolinist and vocalist Paul Hoffman.
Strings welcomed his bandmates Jarrod Walker (mandolin), Billy Failing (banjo) and Royal Masat (upright bass) to the stage and opened with “Fire On My Tongue,” which flowed into “Must Be Seven.” The heat continued with “Hellbender,” followed by another hot take, “Fire Line,” which burned into a cover of Doc Watson’s “Reuben’s Train.”
Strings and Walker then left the stage with wireless receivers and appeared on opposite sides of The Capitol Theatre’s presidential suite balconies, without skipping a beat, note or chord. The two played sonic catch over the heads of a sold-out theater, dueling solos on Frank Wakefield’s “End Of The Rainbow” while Masat and Failing overlooked the crowd on stage. They continued to play “End Of The Rainbow” from their elevated triangle formation into “Running the Route.” Strings and Walker returned to the stage to close the first set with “Home” and the experimental “Highway Hypnosis.”
The quartet opened their second set with the beloved cool running “Taking Water.” Next came “Likes Of Me” and John Hartford’s “All Fall Down.” The covers continued with Jimmy Martin‘s “Tennessee,” which was followed by some Strings originals, including “Nothing’s Working” off Strings’ latest offering Renewal and the fast-paced “Doin’ Things Right.” Finally, Strings and his crew let the lightning strike with their first nod to the Grateful Dead of the evening, the traditional “Peggy-O,” which was followed by the climatic set closer “Hide & Seak.”
Strings and company returned to the stage for the last time of his four-night experiment to encore with another tribute to the Grateful Dead – the all-American anthem “U.S. Blues.”
The Capitol Theatre – Port Chester, N.Y.
Feb. 6, 2022
Set I: Fire On My Tongue > Must Be Seven, Hellbender, Fire Line > Rueben’s Train (Doc Watson) > End Of The Rainbow (Frank Wakefield)  > Running the Route , Home, Highway Hypnosis
Set II: Taking Water, Likes Of Me, All Fall Down (John Hartford), Tennessee (Jimmy Martin), Nothing’s Working, Doin’ Things Right, Peggy-O (Traditional), Hide & Seek
Enc.: U.S. Blues (Grateful Dead)
 Strings and Walker on Presidential Suite balconies