Watch: Billy Strings Joins Greensky Bluegrass for Home State Set with Jeff Austin Tribute

June 10, 2024
Watch: Billy Strings Joins Greensky Bluegrass for Home State Set with Jeff Austin Tribute

Photo Credit: Scott Harris

Greensky Bluegrass kicked off its summer 2024 tour last week, and on Sunday, June 9, the band delivered a home-state show to celebrate the triumphant outset. At Grand Rapids, Mich.’s Frederik Meijer Gardens Amphitheater, the band honored the Great Lakes State with another hometown hero, welcoming the celebrated Billy Strings for an extended second-set sit-in. Together, the titans of bluegrass issued five collaborative treatments of original songs and a cover of The Rolling Stones in the encore, as a stirring tribute to the dearly departed trailblazer Jeff Austin.

After a thrilling first set, which featured an appearance from mandolinist and regular collaborator Brian Oberlin on the 2016 “Take Cover” as well as the track’s customary tease of The Simpsons’ theme, Greensky exploded into the second frame with Wendy Waldman’s “Can’t Stop Now.” The esteemed ensemble kept on with the Handguns classic “Cold Feet” and Cris Jacobs’ “Bone Digger” before arriving at the fan favorite “I’d Probably Kill You,” for which Paul Hoffman tweaked the lyrics to tease Strings’ appearance. Suddenly, at the song’s midpoint, the progressive bluegrass innovator and longtime friend of Greensky sauntered onstage and helped complete the song.

Strings’ stay continued as the artist played along to the Greensky classic “Demons” and stripped things back to a duet with Dave Bruzza on Handguns’ “Hot Dogs (on Parade),” then moved on to bold improvisatory peaks with “Reverend” and the ensemble’s recent 2022 fan favorite “Monument.” The band closed out its set sans-support with “Windshield” and “Run or Die,” then called their guest to the stage for one last hurrah with an encore performance of The Rolling Stones’ “No Expectations.” The Beggars Banquet entry was particularly potent, given its association with the late Austin, who made the song a staple in performances with Yonder Mountain String Band and his Jeff Austin Band. Austin remains an undying influence and inspiration on Strings and Greensky alike, and the power of his memory brought an undeniable warmth and feeling of community to the show’s closer.

Greensky Bluegrass will take the stage again tomorrow, June 11, at Fort Wayne, Ind.’s Sweetwater Performance Pavilion. The band’s with 21 further stagings throughout the summer, including festival sets and headline performances at esteemed venues like Morrison, Colo.’s Red Rocks Amphitheater. For tickets and more information, visit

Watch Strings and Greensky tear it up together via Greensky Bluegrass’ official YouTube channel.

Greensky Bluegrass
Fredrick Meijer Gardens – Grand Rapids, Mich.

Set I: Who Is Frederico, Wish I Didn’t Know > New and Improved, Old Barns@, Take Cover%, Born Again, Entirely Mine, Solstice
Set II: Can’t Stop Now, Cold Feet, Bone Digger, I’d Probably Kill You+, Demons+^, Hot Dogs on Parade#, Reverend+, Monument+, Windshield*, Run or Die,
Encore: No Expectations+

@ New Barns arrangement, “This girl I raised“ lyric change
% w/ Brian Oberlin (mandolin) and “Simpsons Theme” tease
+ w/ Billy Strings
^ Molly Groat and Christian Schauman lyric change
# Only Billy Strings and Dave Bruzza
* Lyric change, “Nothing left for the woman to give to her man”