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Billy Strings Expands the Bounds of Bluegrass

It’s a sweltering afternoon in New Martinsville, West Virginia, the sun and humidity punishing workers who are readying the stage for the opening night of the Back Home Festival, a celebration of Appalachian sounds and community set in a grassy field just off Main Street. A black and silver tour bus idles behind the stage, the inside cool, hushed, and dark. It’s a little past 2:00 p.m., and Billy Strings has just woken up, with a shaggy bed head. Wearing blue jeans and a white T-shirt emblazoned with the logo of bluegrass legends Hot Rize, he squints out the window. “Wait, are you high enough to do the interview?” asks Ally Dale, his tour manager and girlfriend. “No, I am not,” he says with a grin.

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