Billy Strings

Billy Strings (born William Apostol, October 3, 1992) is a Grammy Award-winning American guitarist and a bluegrass musician.[1]

Billy Strings
Billy Strings.jpeg
Background information
Birth nameWilliam Apostol
Born (1992-10-03) October 3, 1992 (age 28)
Muir, Michigan
GenresBluegrass, Americana, rock
InstrumentsGuitar, vocals, banjo, mandolin
Years active2013–present
Associated actsDon Julin, Billy Failing, Royal Masat, Jarrod Walker, John Mailander, Molly Tuttle, Lindsay Lou, Green Shirt Guy, Billy and the Kids

Early lifeEdit

Billy Strings was born William Apostol on October 3, 1992 in Muir, Michigan.[2] His stepfather, Terry Barber, was a picker in the Michigan bluegrass scene, although he never played professionally. Barber was a heavy influence on his son, introducing him to traditional bluegrass at a young age.[1] Bill's stepfather introduced him to the music of Doc Watson, Del McCoury, David Grisman,[3] Bill Monroe, John Hartford, Ralph Stanley, Earl Scruggs, and Larry Sparks.[4][5] He is also a rock and metal fan, influenced by Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Winter, the Grateful Dead and Black Sabbath, and played in hard rock and indie rock bands in his teens.[2][6]

Apostol got his moniker, Billy Strings, from his aunt, who saw his ability on multiple traditional bluegrass instruments.[7]


In 2012, Don Julin, a mandolin player from Traverse City, Michigan, and author of Mandolin For Dummies, asked him to join him on a paying gig. The partnership lasted for the next four years.


Rolling Stone magazine named Strings one of the Top Ten New Country Artists to Know in 2017.[1] On February 12, 2018, Rolling Stone published an article entitled "Bluegrass Prodigy Billy Strings Plots 2018 Spring Tour," saying, "Billy Strings doesn't have any trouble living up to his name. [He is] one of the latest breakneck guitar pickers to emerge in the bluegrass world."[8] The International Bluegrass Music Association awarded him with the 2016 Momentum Award for Instrumentalist of the year.[9] Bluegrass Situation named him a scene tastemaker in 2016.[9] Lisa Snedeker of HuffPost proclaimed Turmoil and Tinfoil as one of the best albums of 2017, writing, "in September it charted at No. 3 on the Billboard Bluegrass charts. ‘Nuff said.".[10] In March, 2018, Rolling Stone released Strings' debut music video Dealing Despair from his album Turmoil & Tinfoil.[11] He planned to play over 200 shows in 2018.[12]

He has been invited to play on stage with artists including Dierks Bentley,[13] Del McCoury, Bill Kreutzmann, David Grisman, Larry Keel, Sam Bush,[14] The Marcus King Band,[15] Greensky Bluegrass, The Infamous Stringdusters,[16] The String Cheese Incident, Leftover Salmon, Widespread Panic and more. He has performed at festivals including Hookahville, Blue Ox, Pickathon, Merlefest, DelFest, High Sierra Music Festival, Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, Telluride Bluegrass Festival, John Hartford Memorial Festival,[17] Aiken Bluegrass Festival, Appaloosa Music Festival, Wheatland Music Festival, Red Wing Roots Music Festival, Bristol Rhythm & Roots, Rooster Walk, French Broad River Festival, Makers Trail Festival, and the All Good Presents 4848 Festival. At Grey Fox, he served as their very first artist in residence in 2017 and 2018. [18][19] Strings had the honor of being invited to play at the famous PBS musical TV show Bluegrass Underground.[20] He has toured with Greensky Bluegrass, The Infamous Stringdusters, Leftover Salmon, I'm With Her, Cabinet and others.[9][21]

Performing at WinterWonderGrass, Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Feb. 23, 2020

In February 2017, Billy was named one of the six new rising stars of bluegrass by Acoustic Guitar magazine.[22] In March 2018, PBS announced that Billy was to be the inaugural performer at the new cave for the renowned series Bluegrass Underground in the caverns of Pelham, Tennessee.[23][24]

In January 2019, Rolling Stone wrote an article entitled "Why Guitarist Billy Strings Is the Bluegrass Star You Don't Want to Miss."[25] He was signed to Rounder Records in June 2019.[26] Strings released his album, Home, (Produced & Engineered by: Glenn Brown) under the label on September 27, 2019.[27] It became his most successful release yet, reaching number one on the Heatseekers Albums and Bluegrass Albums charts. He also debuted at No. 11 on the Emerging Artists Chart.[28] On September 26, 2019 Billy Strings was voted the International Bluegrass Music Association Guitar Player of the Year in Raleigh, North Carolina.

His album Home won the Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards.

His touring band consists of Billy Failing (banjo), Royal Masat (bass), and Jarrod Walker (mandolin).

In 2021 he joined Bill Kruetzmann's Billy & the Kids for a number of shows, along with James Casey (saxophone).


Studio albumsEdit

Title Album details Peak chart position Sales




Rock of Ages
(with Don Julin)
  • Release date: December 31, 2013
  • Label: Billy Strings & Don Julin
Fiddle Tune X[30]
(with Don Julin)
  • Release date: October 1, 2014
  • Label: Billy Strings & Don Julin
Turmoil and Tinfoil[31]
  • Release date: September 22, 2017
  • Label: Apostol Recording Company
3 18
  • Release date: September 27, 2019
  • Label: Rounder
41 11 1 1
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Extended playsEdit

  • Billy Strings - EP, 2016


  1. ^ a b c "10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: August 2017". Rolling Stone. 8 August 2017. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  2. ^ a b "The Amazing Billy Strings". Northern Express.
  3. ^ "Watch Billy Strings Crush Garcia & Grisman's "Dreadful Wind & Rain"". 23 March 2018.
  4. ^ "Midwestern Gentleman - Keep Stringin': The Billy Strings Interview".
  5. ^ "Billy Strings: Just Beginning An Already Wild Ride". NPR. Archived from the original on 2011-05-19. Retrieved 2018-11-07.
  7. ^ "Billy Strings Is A Fascinatingly Unpredictable Performer". Greenville Journal.
  8. ^ "Bluegrass Prodigy Billy Strings Plots 2018 Spring Tour".
  9. ^ a b c "Crossover Touring".
  10. ^ "Year in Review: Favorite musical picks for 2017". Huffington Post.
  11. ^ "See Bluegrass Shredder Billy Strings Call Out Violent Culture in 'Dealing Despair' Video". Rolling Stone.
  12. ^ "Steeped in versatility, Billy Strings Keeps Returning to His Bluegrass Roots". Daily Progress.
  13. ^ "WMOT Fundraiser: An Evening with Dierks Bentley".
  14. ^ "Greensky Bluegrass Collaborate with Sam Bush and Billy Strings in Nashville".
  15. ^ "Marcus King & Billy Strings To Team For 'King & Strings' Set At Rooster Walk".
  16. ^ "The Infamous Stringdusters, Fruition, & More To Bring The Pickin' To Aiken Bluegrass Festival".
  17. ^ "John Hartford Memorial Festival - Previous Lineup History". Retrieved 2018-06-02.
  18. ^ "Lineup".
  19. ^ "2018 Lineup".
  20. ^ "Cave Concert Venue Gives New Meaning to Underground Music Scene". NY Post.
  21. ^ "Greensky Bluegrass & Billy Strings Take Manhattan". Jambase.
  22. ^ "Next-Gen Pickers: 6 Rising Stars are Carrying on the Bluegrass Tradition by Making It Their Own". Acoustic Guitar.
  23. ^ "First Look: Bluegrass Underground's New Home The Caverns". The Tennessean.
  24. ^ "Music and Magic in the Pelham Valley". The Grundy County Herald.
  25. ^ "Why Guitarist Billy Strings Is the Bluegrass Star You Don't Want to Miss". Rolling Stone.
  26. ^ Lawless, John (June 25, 2019). "Billy Strings to Rounder Records". Bluegrass Today.
  27. ^ a b Woodward, Garret K. (2 October 2019). "Billy Strings Talks His Brand of Bluegrass, New Album 'Home'". Rolling Stone.
  28. ^ Zellne, Xander (October 9, 2019). "Billy Strings, Dayseeker and Temples Debut On Emerging Artists Chart". Billboard.
  29. ^ a b c d "Billy Strings". Billboard. Retrieved October 10, 2017.
  30. ^ "Fiddle Tune X". Amazon.
  31. ^ "Turmoil & Tinfoil track debut from Billy Strings - Bluegrass Today". 27 July 2017.
  32. ^ Bjorke, Matt (March 10, 2020). "Top 10 Country Albums Pure Sales Chart: March 9, 2020". RoughStock. Retrieved March 22, 2020.

External linksEdit