Billy Strings Revisits the Songs That Shaped Him With His New Album ‘Me/And/Dad’

by Clayton Edwards
(Photo credit: Joshua Black Wilkins via Sacks & Co.)

Billy Strings has been honing his guitar skills since he was very young. Today, fans around the world know him for his lightning-fast flatpicking. With the new album Me/And/Dad, Strings is revisiting the songs that he cut his teeth on. To make things even more special he’s doing it with the man who taught him to play all those years ago – his dad, Terry Barber.

The new album features Billy Strings and Terry Barber performing 14 of the countless songs they’ve been playing together for decades. You’ll get bluegrass staples like “Long Journey Home” and “Frosty Morn” alongside covers from greats like George Jones (“Life to Go”) and The Stanley Brothers (“Stone Walls and Steel Bars”).

Overall, it’s a great traditional bluegrass album. Billy Strings and Terry Barber have the kind of musical chemistry that can only come from playing together for more than 20 years. Additionally, the teacher-student relationship between them becomes clear when you listen to them play together. Terry’s picking style is at the heart of Billy’s.

Strings also recruited a murderer’s row of musicians for the album. Mike Bub (bass), Jerry Douglas (dobro), Michael Cleveland (fiddle), and Travelin’ McCourys members Rob McCoury (banjo), Ronnie McCoury (mandolin), and Jason Carter (fiddle) flesh out the tracks.

Billy Strings on Me/And/Dad

For listeners, Me/And/Dad is a truly great bluegrass record from some stellar pickers and singers. For Billy Strings, though, it’s more than that. In a mini-documentary about the making of the album, Strings said that making this album was like revisiting his childhood. “These songs are how I learned how to play music. Some of these songs, I was probably playing before I could tie my shoes,” he said.

“It’s a me and my dad record, ya know? It sits right at the top, or at the bottom. Maybe it’s the foundation and everything else is sprinkled on top – all of my records and stuff. This is the main one,” Billy said of the album.

At the same time, he said it was a chance for him to let Terry Barber shine. He said he wanted to “Kind of showcase his talent, which is real and honest. A real grassroots kind of player. I’ve always loved that about him.”

However, Billy Strings doesn’t want to call this album a tribute to his dad. “I don’t want to say ‘tribute’ I’m not gonna bury him while he yet lives. But, I mean, it’s reverence and respect. It’s a thank you. It’s a thank you for showing me the way to a good life.”

Me/And/Dad Tracklist

  1. Long Journey Home (traditional)
  2. Life to Go (George Jones)
  3. Way Downtown (Doc Watson)
  4. Little Blossom (Hank Thompson)
  5. Peartree (Watson, Gaither Carlton)
  6. Stone Walls and Steel Bars (Ray Pennington, Roy Eugene Marcum)
  7. Little White Church (Eugene Wellman)
  8. Dig a Little Deeper in the Well (Jody Emerson, Roger Bowling)
  9. Wandering Boy (A.P. Carter)
  10. John Deere Tractor (Lawrence Hammond)
  11. Frosty Morn (traditional)
  12. I Haven’t Seen Mary in Years (Damon Black)
  13. Little Cabin Home on the Hill (Lester Flatt, Bill Monroe)
  14. Heard My Mother Weeping featuring Debra Barber (Carl Story, Lowell Blanchard)