Spend Whiskey Wednesday with Ed Helms

The actor and banjo player’s Whiskey Sour Happy Hour premiered last night with Billy Strings, Yola, and more—the first episode in a four-week series to benefit COVID-19 relief organizations

photo: Elli Lauren Photography

Ed Helms (center) at Bonnaroo with Sara and Sean Watkins, who will join him this week on Whiskey Sour Happy Hour.

Cheer up, music fans—your Wednesdays just got a lot brighter. Last week, the Atlanta-born actor and banjo player Ed Helms announced his Whiskey Sour Happy Hour, a new live-streamed series presented by Helms’s roots music outlet, the Bluegrass Situation, to benefit MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund and DirectRelief. “In the seventies, everybody had a variety show—Sonny and Cher, Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell—and you never knew who was going to show up, or what they were going to do,” says Amy Reitnouer Jacobs, who co-founded the Bluegrass Situation with Helms in 2011. “They had fun with it. And that’s what we’re aiming for, too.”

The series premiered last night with music from Billy Strings, Watkins Family Hour, Yola, Aubrie Sellers, Madison Cunningham, David Garza, and Lee Ann Womack, plus a comedy segment from New Yorker cartoonist Matt Diffee and a few surprise guests. Watch the episode below, and keep Wednesday nights blocked off on your calendar until May 13—upcoming Happy Hours will include sessions from Rhiannon Giddens & Francesco Turrisi, Chris Thile, and Robert Ellis. Tune in via the Bluegrass Situation’s YouTube or Facebook pages at 8 p.m. Eastern each week to enjoy the show and help give back to the roots music community. “We need to continue to support our artists: to buy their merch, to follow them, to buy records,” Jacobs says. “All of these things are what keep communities going.”