In 2023, Billy Strings Will Officially Be an Arena Artist
It was bound to happen, and you can bellyache all you want about not being able to see one of your favorite artists in a more intimate venue. But you were warned, and had your chances for years to see Billy Strings in local watering holes, clubs downtown, and historic theaters across the country. But now the appeal for Billy Strings has reached critical mass, and he will be officially taking bluegrass music to the arena level in 2023.
Just let that sink in for a moment: this is Bill Monroe’s music that is now becoming so resonant among such a wide swath of the population, they have to book it in 14,000+ capacity venues, and in some cases, for multiple nights in a row just to satisfy demand. We’ve seen independent country artists like Sturgill Simpson and Tyler Childers conjoin to play arenas (before the pandemic cut it short), but who knows if this could be done today. With Billy Strings, there’s no choice.
This week Billy Strings announced a slew of new dates for 2023. He’ll be playing an intimate show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville on February 26th like he’s done many times before. But he’s also booked not one, but two nights at the Bridgestone Arena across the street right in the heart of mainstream country’s epicenter on February 24th and 25th. Even some major label acts can’t demand that kind of capacity.
On February 21st and 22nd, Billy Strings will be playing the 14,000-capacity John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Virginia—again, two nights at the biggest music venue in the region. Same with the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem, NC March 3rd and 4th, and the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, GA, capacity 21,000.
It’s true that Billy String has already been playing some arena-capacity venues here in 2022, and selling them out as well. It’s also true that to help keep himself grounded and still give fans some opportunities at intimate performances, Strings is also booking some smaller shows like his night at the Ryman, or one at the 1,000-capacity Georgia Theatre in Athens on March 7th, 2023.
But let’s not overlook what is happening here, and make sure we celebrate just what an achievement this is. Billy Strings is now an arena artist, and he got here not by selling out, but in many respects, doubling down on his bluegrass roots, including his upcoming album Me / and / Dad comprised of traditional country and bluegrass songs to be released on November 18th.
Billy’s appeal in the jam band realm has also opened up an entirely different audience, and there is definitely a Grateful Dead aspect to his fandom of folks following him all around the country to see him play that has helped bolster his audience. But ultimately, this is bluegrass—an elemental building block to true country music—finding an arena-level appeal. Eat your heart out, Music Row.
Tickets go on sale to the general public Friday, November 4th at 10:00 a.m. local time. Billy Strings has also announced that his next 10 shows will stream for free on nugs.net.
BILLY STRINGS TOUR DATES:
Bold = New dates
11/03 — Kalamazoo, MI @ Wings Event Center
11/04 — Saginaw, MI @ Dow Event Center
11/05 — Pittsburgh, PA @ Petersen Events Center
11/09 — Rochester, NY @ Blue Cross Arena
11/11 — Uniondale, NY @ Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum
11/12 — Philadelphia, PA @ The Met – SOLD OUT
11/13 — Philadelphia, PA @ The Met – SOLD OUT
11/16 — Richmond, VA @ Virginia Credit Union LIVE! – SOLD OUT
11/18 — Washington, DC @ The Anthem – SOLD OUT
11/19 — Washington, DC @ The Anthem – SOLD OUT
11/29 — Oslo, NO @ Rockefeller Music Hall
11/30 — Copenhagen, DE @ Vega
12/01 — Stockholm, SE @ Slaktkyrkan – SOLD OUT
12/03 — Berlin, DE @ Columbia Theater – SOLD OUT
12/04 — Amsterdam, NE @ Melkweg – SOLD OUT
12/05 — Cologne, DE @ Die Kantine
12/07 — London, UK @ O2 Forum Kentish Town – SOLD OUT
12/08 — Manchester, UK @ O2 Ritz Manchester
12/09 — Dublin, IE @ The Academy – SOLD OUT
12/11 — Glasgow, UK @ Galvanizers Yard
12/30 — New Orleans, LA @ Lakefront Arena
12/31 — New Orleans, LA @ Lakefront Arena – SOLD OUT
02/02 — Denver, CO @ 1STBANK Center – SOLD OUT
02/03 — Denver, CO @ 1STBANK Center – SOLD OUT
02/04 — Denver, CO @ 1STBANK Center – SOLD OUT
02/16 — Atlantic City, NJ @ Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena
02/17 — Atlantic City, NJ @ Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena
02/18 — Atlantic City, NJ @ Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena
02/21 — Charlottesville, VA @ John Paul Jones Arena
02/22 — Charlottesville, VA @ John Paul Jones Arena
02/24 — Nashville, TN @ Bridgestone Arena
02/25 — Nashville, TN @ Bridgestone Arena
02/26 — Nashville, TN @ Ryman Auditorium
03/03 — Winston-Salem, NC @ Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum – Doc Watson’s 100th Birthday Show
03/04 — Winston-Salem, NC @ Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum
03/07 — Athens, GA @ Georgia Theatre
03/10 — Atlanta, GA @ State Farm Arena
03/11 — Charleston, SC @ North Charleston Coliseum
03/12 — Charleston, SC @ North Charleston Coliseum
03/16 — Cincinnati, OH @ The Andrew J Brady Music Center
03/17 — Cincinnati, OH @ The Andrew J Brady Music Center
03/18 — Cincinnati, OH @ The Andrew J Brady Music Center
November 3, 2022 @ 10:53 am
We’ll be at the Peterson Event Center Saturday night. My first time seeing Billy in concert and the first time in 20 years I’m not watching LSU-Alabama.
November 5, 2022 @ 10:04 am
Wishing you a great time at the show tonight!
November 5, 2022 @ 10:00 pm
Curious on what your thoughts are from tonight’s show? Don’t comment often but you seem to have similar tastes. I thought Billy and the band were on an entirely nother level musically. But…
I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I found the comments below about the 99% Dead head hippie crowd to be shockingly accurate. Was really taken by surprise for Pittsburgh and I guess, to be honest, way out of my element. But like I said Billy is on another level musically.
November 9, 2022 @ 3:40 pm
Hey, Randy. We ended up not going due to a family emergency (this has been a challenging year). I’m glad you had a good time. I passed on Billy last summer when he was at Stage AE because of the hippie, dead head factor, but when we went to Delfest last May, the hippies were great! I probably would have been out of my element too.
Hopefully, I’ll run into you at another show locally.
November 8, 2022 @ 5:45 pm
May we ask how you enjoyed the Billy Strings concert, last Saturday night?
November 9, 2022 @ 3:42 pm
It’s been a trying year and things came to ahead Saturday night and we couldn’t go. So I’m 0-3 when trying to see Billy.
November 9, 2022 @ 5:16 pm
Oh man …
I hate to hear that.
Really hoping the person/people involved in the family emergency are going to be alright.
Putting you & all of your family, extended family, in prayer.
Thanks for letting us know
November 3, 2022 @ 11:24 am
Was at the Halloween show (highly reccomend it) and the man is on a different level these days. Crazy first time I saw him was at a 700 person venue and now this. Good for him to staying true and doing this.
Also his cover of Ramble On and War Pigs was badass and should be checked out on YouTube
November 3, 2022 @ 4:03 pm
I had to share some of those videos with my buddy that’s a huge Panic fan, as Panic’s drummer, Duane Trucks was on the drum kit for BS on Halloween.
November 3, 2022 @ 11:37 am
This ain’t your daddy’s bluegrass….the the Arenagrass era begin!
November 3, 2022 @ 11:39 am
Got my presale tickets for Atlanta yesterday! I got to see Billy in 2019 at Terminal West (625 capacity) so this will be a much different experience. Also got to see Sturgill and Childers on their arena run, and was pleasantly surprised.
As far as the jam band aspect goes, I can attest to your statement that he is huge in that world. I saw Goose in Atlanta last month (Goose rules) and there were about as many Billy Strings shirts and hats in the crowd as there were Phish or Grateful Dead/Dead & Co., and that community is extremely loyal to their favorite artists.
Would be interested to hear your thoughts on “jam bands” and how that relates to country music as a whole. You have the obvious offshoots of the Allman Bros., like Tedeshi Trucks Band and their other projects, as well as the Marcus King Band. Then there’s the bluegrass side of things with Billy, Bela Fleck, Leftover Salmon, etc. And the Dead’s country influences have been pretty well documented as well. I don’t listen to jam bands outside of a small handful of bands (Allmans, Tedeshi Trucks, Marcus King, the Dead, Billy Strings, and Goose), but I am intrigued by the culture around them, especially after going to a few shows.
November 3, 2022 @ 12:38 pm
I think one of the reasons for Billy’s wild popularity beyond his incredible talent is that he bridged the worlds of bluegrass and jam bands like never before. Leftover Salmon, Greensky Bluegrass and other outfits are definitely bluegrass-based jam bands. But they’re still jam bands more than anything else. Billy’s sound is still grounded solidly in bluegrass, especially on his albums, and that has made a lot of bluegrass fans more open to the jam moments, while jam band fans still get what they’re looking for.
Billy said a while back that he doesn’t consider himself a “jam” artist. There is much more structure to what he does. Whatever you want to call it, it’s creating such overwhelming appeal, especially live, it will be really interesting to see where this goes from here. He’s on the precipice of becoming our generations’ Grateful Dead/Phish. He might be selling out stadiums before too long.
Luke the Drifter
November 3, 2022 @ 2:59 pm
I think Billy Strings is somewhat misunderstood on account of his Deadhead following. People want to make him the poster child of the jamgrass movement, and he certainly has extended jams in his show but really his music, especially as a recording artist, is really more of a continuation of the Golden Age of Newgrass (a la New Grass Revival) than Railroad Earth or Greensky or even Infamous Stringdusters. Yes he leans into the rock influence a little harder than Sam Bush or Jerry Douglas but not by too much. If Sam’s formula was to be the best rock’n’roll band in the world for 10 minutes a night, as I often joked, Billy adjusted the formula to being the best rock’n’roll band in the world for 30 minutes a night. But he also plays lots of songs with real drive and has legitimate bluegrass harmony singing. I saw him in Atlanta recently and while he got big audience traction from a Widespread Panic cover, he followed it up with “Bringing in the Georgia Mail” and when the crowd didn’t go nuts, he made a comment that they must have been deprived of bluegrass and busted into some Stanley Brothers. (As an aside, Bela Fleck is less of a jam artist than people think; he through-composes a lot of stuff. I have seen two of his My Bluegrass Heart shows and while I have almost never been more thrilled by a performance, it was virtually identical to the record.)
As far as jam bands generally, there is this funny thing where every good jam band denies being one. The reason is because so many of them- the inexplicably popular Phish being the best example- have moronic lyrics and wimpy singing. The Grateful Dead got by with the mediocre singing (and sometimes sloppy playing) because while some songs required being a 60’s stoner to get the lyrics, there’s also lots of songs like Friend of the Devil or Truckin’ that are often covered by song-focused artists like Tom Petty and Dwight Yoakam for example. There is nothing more thrilling in person than a great improvisational band but it should not come at the expense of everything else. That’s why the Allman Brothers Band are my favorite artist and I love their successors like Tedeschi Trucks and Marcus King. 2018-19 era Sturgill Simpson was hitting that sweet spot too.
November 3, 2022 @ 4:13 pm
Spot on! Sound observations. Billy unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you see it, has been adopted by the Jamgrass/ Phish crowd. I’m sure it helps his checking account big time, but these folks don’t know squat about Trad bluegrass. Pity. Fully agree that The Allman Brothers have NEVER been equalled. To this day I listen to em regularly, they are numero uno on the Southern Rock Mt Rushmore. Dickey Betts brought so much melody to his jams, which is something many jambands don’t have.
As for Billy, he’s a monster player whom I admire greatly. Imagine in 2022, a flat picker is a rock star…Talent shines through, can’t fake it.
November 3, 2022 @ 4:17 pm
I’ve told the story in the comments before of a show of his I was at in October ’21. He played some traditional bluegrass stuff and I was the only one singing along. Then he covered Cher’s Do You Believe and everyone in the damn place was going nuts and singing. I love Billy, but I still wasn’t down with that cover.
November 4, 2022 @ 10:10 am
Travis, Spot on. The ABB is the best jam band ever. Period.
November 3, 2022 @ 5:04 pm
November 6, 2022 @ 11:41 pm
Very Spot on that Billy is more like NewGrass Revival than anyone!! I followed them from 1976 and still today follow all of them in their solo shows and sadly they were just before their time! I’ve followed Billy since 2014 and it’s amazing and overdue to see his success!! I’ve love to hear John Cowan do a show with Billy and add that VOICE!!
November 4, 2022 @ 11:48 am
First time I saw Billy Strings was when he opened for Umphrey’s McGee two night run in Asheville Feb 2020. Both shows were sold out. Billy and his band were fantastic and then the collaborations with Umphrey’s sealed the deal. We’ve been big fans ever since. Just saw him again in Asheville over Halloween weekend. Same venue and he sold out all three nights. These shows were next level great. He can’t be confined to bluegrass. In the Halloween show – he covered Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd and it was all fantastic. He doesn’t seem to age, he’s always smiling and happy, and it is clear that he’s having the time of his life on that stage. I love jam bands and I love bluegrass – and whatever’s in-between. It’s all good!
November 3, 2022 @ 12:45 pm
Also the next 10 Billy Strings shows are streaming for free on Nugs.
November 3, 2022 @ 12:47 pm
He played Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Arena (to me, it will always be the Asheville Civic Center) for three days over Halloween weekend. All three days were sold out. I told someone at work Warren Haynes should have got Billy to play this year’s Christmas Jam.
November 3, 2022 @ 2:43 pm
That would have been great but having Tyler not a bad consolation
November 3, 2022 @ 1:05 pm
Looking forward to seeing her again in New Orleans on 12/30. He played Tipitina’s only 2 years ago. Whatta rise!
November 3, 2022 @ 1:18 pm
It’s a 100% Phish head crowd now. With The Dead and Co wrapping things up the stinky people have laid claim to Billy Strings.
I’ll concede it’s a 99.4% Phish Head crowd. Just so the one reader thats not a Phish head but a Billy Strings fan doesn’t get all upset.
November 3, 2022 @ 2:11 pm
November 3, 2022 @ 4:23 pm
Granted, I have only seen Billy Strings at festivals: Pickathon, Old Settler’s, Americanafest, Under The Big Sky Fest, another one or two. But saying his audience is “99.4% Phish head crowd” I think is dramatically, dramatically overselling it. I definitely think there are bluegrass fans, and more Americana and independent country fans that make up the majority of his crowd. The idea that it’s all Wooks and Rastas is hyperbole. I’m not saying that isn’t an element of the crowd. But when I have seen him, it’s made up less than 2%. That said, you have one group of hippies playing hacky sack that smell like Nag Champa in the corner of a concert, and some fans have a “there’s goes the neighborhood” reaction to it. Perhaps in some markets, there are bigger contingents of jam band fans than others. But the idea that it makes up 99% of the Billy Strings audience is incorrect.
November 3, 2022 @ 4:44 pm
I don’t think its hyperbole honestly. I come from Phish territory in upstate NY. Jam band fans takeover artist in the blink of an eye. It’s a cash cow for the artist. Plus bluegrass fans don’t sell out Denver 3 nights in a row, jam band fans do that.
November 3, 2022 @ 4:52 pm
Saying any artists’ fan base is 99.4% anything is always hyperbole. Perhaps in upstate New York, it’s a majority Phish fans showing up to a Billy Strings concert, and that wouldn’t surprise me. But I guarantee you there are also a good handful of bluegrass fans, Tyler Childers/Cody Jinks fans that read a site like Saving Country Music, and some folks that don’t really identify as anything but a fan of Billy Strings. The only reason I’m saying this stuff is because I don’t want people who want to see Billy Strings going, “Gee, will I stick out like a sore thumb?” If you want to see Billy Strings, for Gods sake, go see Billy Strings. He’s the great live act in all of music at the moment. And even if you have to fight through a throng of hippies, it’s worth it.
November 3, 2022 @ 6:45 pm
Come on Trig, you don’t think 99.4 % of Ed Sheerans fans are pop fans??! Anyways, be sure to revisit this in a year. I’ll even temper my guess and bring it down to 80% jamband fans at that point. Regardless, Billy String is a phenomenon and hats off to him. Cheers
November 4, 2022 @ 11:42 am
Trig, in my experience it’s a heavily Phish head / jam scene concert. Not to say there aren’t also lots of “normal” people at Billy’s shows but there is a heavy contingent of tripped out white kids with dreadlocks. At the DC show last year there were guys outside the show selling nitrous and I saw a group of people wearing unicorn onesies. Also talked to a middle aged guy who was on a small dose of acid. Definitely not the traditional country or even Americana crowd at billy shows. Not to say that’s a bad thing it just is what it is.
November 4, 2022 @ 12:00 pm
I’m definitely not trying to imply that there isn’t a jam band scene around Billy Strings. I’m just pushing back on the 99.4% number, and I’m doing this as someone who has seen him live half a dozen times. Again, I think in the Northeast, you’re going to have more of that jam band quotient. Down in Texas, in the Carolinas, at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, you’re going to have less of that. My only motivation for making this distinction is I think there’s an unfair stigma that is starting to develop around Strings as him being something apart from bluegrass and country. When you listen to his albums, that’s just not the case. He just released a new song today, “John Deere Tractor,” which was a country hit for The Judds. I don’t see Phish or Leftover Salmon doing this, for example.
November 4, 2022 @ 12:57 pm
Bluegrass legend Larry Sparks recorded “John Deere Tractor” first. It’s a signature song of his.
November 4, 2022 @ 7:02 pm
Hey Triggered. You’re the king of hyperbole and a drama queen, so it’s rich that you would use the words hyperbole and dramatically in reply to Brad’s comments.
November 4, 2022 @ 7:11 pm
Dude. We’re just having a conversation here.
November 4, 2022 @ 8:54 pm
Then we are definitely in agreement Trig, Billy is an actual bluegrasser and if there is a stigma developing around him because of the crowd at his shows that’s dumb. What I love about him is that he’ll have these transcendent, rocking jam shows and then record a classic cover album with his Dad. If anything, I find it strange that the jam scene is coalescing around such a traditional leaning band with no drums, synths, or electronics.
I’ve seen him convert rock guys into country fans overnight and think he is the tip of the spear of the independent country insurgency because of his mass appeal to hippies, bluegrassers, NPR americana fans, and guitar guys.
November 3, 2022 @ 4:56 pm
Well I’ll report back, I’ll be there Thursday and Friday. I would bet money you’re right though.
November 4, 2022 @ 12:46 pm
the jam band thing is a good thing anyway. prolly a helluva lot easier to stay interested in music if you aren’t playing the same thing every night.
November 7, 2022 @ 4:54 am
Brad, I was skeptical of your comment when I first read it a few days ago. After seeing him in Pittsburgh Saturday, I can say you are definitely correct. The Phish/Dead crowd have taken over. Your 99.9% comment ain’t far off. Good for Billy and it was still an amazing show, just prepare yourself especially for floor tickets.
November 3, 2022 @ 4:51 pm
The Red Rocks shows this last year was at least 75% jamband fans and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was significantly more. Everyone I talk to in the lot and in the venue try to talk to me about jambands and I always have to tell them I don’t follow anyone they’re excited about discussing. I love the crowd though and have a great time with them. I’ve bonded with a half dozen people I work with over Billy Strings and they’re all jam band fans. But thanks to Trig, I had been following BS for a few years prior to that crowd, haha.
Luke the Drifter
November 3, 2022 @ 5:02 pm
After luckily stumbling upon him at a bluegrass festival on the way up, I have seen him twice since he broke, in South Carolina and Georgia, and the crowd was mostly a jam rock crowd. However I heard his name mentioned positively several times around IBMA; he has some haters among diehard traditionalists but I think more bluegrass fans like him than not. I actually think if we had a sane country radio he could cross over more to the country crowd. If not for the iHeart-ification of radio “In the Morning Light” would be a huge country song.
November 3, 2022 @ 6:17 pm
What’s the problem?
People who want to see Billy, are going to go see him.
Why would anyone care about the crowd/patrons?
If you are uncomfortable in crowds – don’t go.
November 3, 2022 @ 3:25 pm
I love Billy.
An extraordinary musician, & man.
November 3, 2022 @ 4:00 pm
That’s alright, as long as he comes to Red Rocks every year. He was here 5/12 and 5/13 last year. I already got an email that says Billy Strings Morrison, CO in May (location unannounced). Not hard to figure that out. Hopefully it turns into an annual thing. The fact that it’s the week of my birthday makes it all that much better. Still pissed with AXS though. I only got one night at face value for Broomfield and shelled out a couple hundred for Friday night on the secondhand market. I’m not doing that for any other artist.
November 3, 2022 @ 5:08 pm
I’ll have to give him a serious listen. I think I passed over listening to him because I haven’t currently been in a jam band listening phase. I’ve always been a fan of Dave Matthews band and I love how most jam bands blend genres. Bela Fleck was always an interesting artist playing with whoever. Also I’ve seen Robert Randolph cross over a lot more with the Zac Brown band. Those legit crossovers are always exciting.
David: The Duke of Everything
November 3, 2022 @ 8:05 pm
Good for him. I like bluegrass though I don’t listen to it a lot. But for whatever reason, I’m not big on strings. He has talent and maybe the new album might give me a spark.
November 3, 2022 @ 9:24 pm
He’s a sellout. He sells out every show he plays that is. See what I did there? I’m happy for him, this is great news and it’s been fun to see him go from Billy who? to Billy “Fn'” Strings.
November 4, 2022 @ 2:38 am
curious of how well the bluegrass sound will translate into an arena, anyway if anyone can do it that one is Billy.
hope he will crossover to europe..
November 4, 2022 @ 10:15 am
There are 10 European shows listed above. Perhaps I misinterpreted your comment and it meant you hope he has crossover success in Europe. Cheers!
November 5, 2022 @ 1:18 am
yes , i meant i whish he was more famous over here, lots of people don’t even know his name and it’s a shame.
November 12, 2022 @ 3:50 am
I was just in London, a black cab had a Station Inn sticker on the divider window. Struck up a great bluegrass discussion with the the driver but he admitted that in the 5 years he’s had it only a handful of people know it or bluegrass music.
November 4, 2022 @ 5:47 am
Guess Geezer gotta skool you kids. Grateful Dead were a bluegrass band before they went electric. It’s not the jam, it’s the songs. Chromaticism in Jerry Garcia’s playing comes directly from ‘grass. And lol don’t leave out they both loved grass, as Billy shows us 🤣😎
November 5, 2022 @ 9:52 am
Jerry Garcia loved bluegrass so much that he followed The Kentucky Colonels across country like some kind of prototype Deadhead! This is all possible because of Clarence White, who was killed 50 years ago next year.
Wilson Pick It
November 4, 2022 @ 9:04 am
The first two Dead albums have some great songs, but I’ve never been able to stomach their boring live performances. Phish are actually better musicians, but their songwriting is so goofy that I would say their music lacks heart. Billy Strings has the best of both worlds. Great songs, great musicianship, dynamic live performances. If they really are the successor to this scene then it’s a win for everyone. Billy gets a huge audience, the jam band fans get better music.
November 4, 2022 @ 11:16 am
I got to see him in a little 80 seat venue/bar several years ago. He worked his own merch table after the show, sweat pouring off him still from the show. He was appreciative of the crowd, chatted with us and signed the CDs we bought.
I see he’s playing my hometown on this new tour. Maybe I’ll throw in with the 13,999 other people and go see him in a larger setting.
November 4, 2022 @ 5:37 pm
The show in Rochester on November 9th is in an arena. I bet it holds around 12,000 and will likely be a sellout. My first Billy show. I’m a deadhead and follow a number of Jambands including Phish. Also big fan of Greensky, Railroad Earth and Younder.
weak knee-ed willie
November 5, 2022 @ 4:21 pm
We also will be at our 1st Billy show in Rochester NY. It won’t be our 1st Bluegrass show by any means
November 7, 2022 @ 11:50 am
Taking to my wife to see Billy the 11th at Nassau Coliseum. Her 4th time, my 5th time seeing him.
Going to CT the night before, to see us some Sarah Shook and the Disarmers too!
November 8, 2022 @ 4:42 am
I saw him twice last year, three times earlier this year, and am seeing him four times next week, lol. Philly x 2 and then DC x 2. Every show is the greatest live performance I can remember since Springsteen in the early-80s.