I’m With Her and Billy Strings bring life to audiences with bluegrass and folk music

All-star female folk trio, I'm With Her, make a tour stop to Jorgensen for a concert, in which Billy Strings was the opening performer. (Haniasha Lewis/The Daily Campus)

All-star female folk trio, I'm With Her, make a tour stop to Jorgensen for a concert, in which Billy Strings was the opening performer. (Haniasha Lewis/The Daily Campus)

The Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts had a night filled with rhythm and harmony from bluegrass musician Billy Strings and folk trio I’m With Her. The stage was set with a wide array of string instruments that were ready to showcase the talents of the incredible trio. After a brief introduction from Jorgensen Director Rod Rock, Billy Strings took to the stage with his guitar and banjo for the opening act. 

Billy Strings is currently one of the most talented bluegrass musicians who is quickly rising to fame and making a name for himself in the industry. His opening act was charming and featured one impressive guitar solo after the next. His first song was upbeat and quick which rewarded him an audibly excited round of applause, while his next song was slower and seemed more sentimental. His voice noticeably resonated with the audience and his performance was a great introduction to bluegrass music for audiences who weren’t familiar with the genre.  

“I feel like his voice was meant for this music,” Katrina Charitonuk, a fourth semester biomedical engineering major, said. 

Throughout his set, members of the audience were visibly nodding their head or tapping their foot to the rhythm of his lively originals and covers. He covered songs by many bluegrass legends such as Norman Blake, Doc Watson and Ralph Stanley. Between songs, Billy Strings talked briefly about how he was introduced to bluegrass music by his father and the many albums he inherited as a result. Upon completion of his set, the audience was so moved by his music that he was given a standing ovation. 

Following a brief intermission, I’m With Her finally took to the stage and immediately began their set. The trio consisted of Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O’Donovan who were all accomplished songwriters with their own solo careers before forming the alternative folk band. The trio amazed the audience with their proficiency in the many instruments they played on stage. Not only were they playing acoustic guitars, they also had a ukulele, a mandolin, a banjo, a fiddle and a couple of electric guitars to complement their sound. All three singers held very tight and beautifully haunting harmonies and it was obvious that the three musicians held a brilliant cohesion.  

The stage itself aided in their performance with the mesmerizing light displays that bounced off the walls and the ceilings. There even happened to be a fog machine that gave off an eerie but mystical feel to the performance. 

With some songs being originals and some being covers, the group also played a musical version of a Johnny Cash poem. The poem they specifically wrote music for was “Chinky Pin Hill.” Later in the show, the trio set aside the group songs and covers and instead performed music from each of their respective solo careers.  

At the end of the show, the three received an uproar of applause from the audience and they briefly left the stage only to come back with Billy Strings and perform a handful of love songs to celebrate Valentine’s Day.  

 “I enjoyed the last song and how it was sort of beautifully chaotic,” Charitonuk said. 

As the group’s performance ended with a violin solo here, and a banjo solo there, the audience granted all of the musicians one last standing ovation to bid them farewell.


Brandon Barzola is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at brandon.barzola@uconn.edu.