When Game of Thrones returns to HBO on April 24th, it’ll begin as it always does: with a rumble of percussion, a sweeping of strings and the unfolding of a now-iconic theme song that’s been kicking off the series’ episodes for five years.
Although rooted in medieval folk music, the title theme recently received a facelift from Flatt Lonesome, a Tennessee-based family band of bluegrass pickers and harmony singers. The bluegrass cover was commissioned by the staff at Sirius XM’s Bluegrass Junction station, whose DJs wanted something new to play in the weeks leading up to the show’s Season Six premiere. With Flatt Lonesome at the helm, the Game of Thrones theme becomes something different: a fretwork-heavy burst of mandolin, fiddle, upright bass and acoustic guitars, evoking not the grandeur of Westeros as much as the earthy charm of the American South. Nobody sings, but banjo player Paul Harrigill and guitarist Buddy Robertson trade solos during the song’s second half, adding their own voices to German composer Ramin Djawadi’s work.
Above, the group tackles the theme song in Sirius XM’s Nashville headquarters. Flatt Lonesome’s live shows have often included their Game of Thrones tribute. The band’s tour schedule of bluegrass bashes and folk festivals will keep the musicians busy through December 30th.