Young virtuoso guitarist Billy Strings, aka William Apostol, is heading to Nashville to pursue solo projects, but credits Don Julin for his mentorship and success. Their final Traverse City show is Wednesday.
Guitarist Billy Strings hinted at the possibility in an interview earlier this fall, telling Local Spins that he was pursuing solo projects with other musicians and pulling back on performing 200-plus gigs a year with duo partner and mandolinist Don Julin.
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Now, it’s official.
Julin this week posted a message on Facebook saying that after “an incredible two years,” the Traverse City duo – with Kevin Gills on bass – is “fulfilling contracts through April of 2016, but not accepting offers for future performances” because Apostol plans to move to Nashville to launch his solo career.
Indeed, the final scheduled show in Traverse City takes place Wednesday night at InsideOut Gallery with The Go Rounds, and the only other West Michigan concert for 2015 listed on the Billy Strings website is a Dec. 4 show at Seven Steps Up in Spring Lake. They’ll also play the Winter Wheat benefit at The Intersection in Grand Rapids on Jan. 9, and based on the current schedule, the duo’s final show will take place during April’s MerleFest in North Carolina.
“I have personally had a great time playing, touring and recording with this very special musician, born as William Apostol, and wish him all the best. Anyone that has ever seen him play or sing knows that he has a bright future in music,” Julin wrote.
Apostol told Local Spins that he’s in a “transition period” as he prepares for the Nashville move and collaborating with other artists.
A ‘MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL’ PARTNERSHIP AND A DESIRE TO PLAY WITH ‘DIFFERENT CATS’
“Don, he’s one of the most badass mandolin payers out there and one of the most wise musicians as far as business goes,” he said. “There’s no way I could have done any of this without Don. It’s been mutually beneficial.”
Apostol, who said he hoped fans “wouldn’t freak” over the decision, insisted he’s “not excluded the idea of playing with Don in Michigan” in the future, because he intends to tour the state regularly. “It would be special to come back and play as Billy & Don in Michigan. That’s where our fans are heavy.”
But he’s also passionate about writing original material and pursuing solo endeavors.
“I’m moving on and playing with lots of different cats,” he said, adding that he also wants “to focus more on playing with my dad,” a musician who inspired Apostol from a young age.
Apostol and Julin met in Traverse City, and the “maximum bluegrass” duo made a splash regionally and nationally in a very short period of time, crisscrossing the country for major bluegrass festivals and earning acclaim from national publications.
With the impending change, Julin said he plans to “put more time into other projects” and focus more on his mandolin teaching.
“I will be playing more jazz,” he said, “and even doing some dates in a new reggae band while sticking closer to home for a while.”
SOME OF THE MOST SCINTILLATING BLUEGRASS YOU’LL EVER SEE AND HEAR: BILLY STRINGS & DON JULIN (Local Spins Live at River City Studios interview, video and podcast)
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Copyright 2015, Spins on Music LLC