After snaking their way across the continent, covering virtually every region of the U.S. in a three-month span, Billy Strings and his band concluded the spring leg of their extensive 2023 tour last night in Chicago at Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island.

Strings, banjoist Billy Failing, bassist Royal Masat, mandolinist Jarrod Walker, and violinist Alex Hargreaves showed no signs of fatigue as they greeted the Windy City with a swift run through “The Old Mountaineer” by Bill Monroe. A mix of originals and covers ranging from George Jones’ “Life to Go” and the traditional “Come Down the Mountain Katie Daly” to Bob Dylan’s “Escape”. Other highlights of the set included a mournful “Love and Regret”, a devilish “Hellbender” that was interrupted when Billy stopped to break up an altercation in the crowd, and a set-closing plea for peace with “Wargasm”.

Set two provided a strong finish to a run of historic proportions, beginning with “Long Forgotten Dream” and a harmony-driven cover of Jonathan Edwards and The Seldom Scene‘s “How Long Have I Been Waiting for You”. Then, after a detour through “This Old World” on “The Train That Carried My Girl From Town”, Billy played a dramatic solo rendition of “Catch & Release” before being joined by Billy Failing for “Dos Banjos” with Strings on clawhammer banjo. Strings then dedicated “California Sober” to Willie Nelson, with whom he collaborated on the playful pot-promoting track earlier this year. Later in the set he paid tribute to the late great Jeff Austin, who was born in nearby Arlington Heights, IL, with a cover of his song “Fiddling Around” before wrapping the set with Carter Stanley‘s “The Lonesome River” and a no-holds-barred, jammed-out “Turmoil & Tinfoil” closer.

Strings and company returned to the stage for a two-song encore featuring Doc Watson’s “Southbound” and Jimmy Martin’s “Tennessee”, perhaps indicating that the bluegrass outfit is already looking ahead their next leg of tour dates, which begin in the South next month. First the band will take some well-deserved time off. For a list of upcoming tour dates and ticketing details, visit Billy Strings’ website.

Click below to view fan-shot videos and a gallery of photos from Billy Strings at Northerly Island in Chicago courtesy of photographer Brett Bergen.

Billy Strings – “Taking Water”, “Ice Bridges” – 6/17/23

[Video: Sojahsey1]

Billy Strings – “Love And Regret” – 6/17/23

[Video: Been there done that]

Billy Strings – “Show Me The Door” – 6/17/23

[Video: Sojahsey1]

Billy Strings – “Drifter’s Escape” (Bob Dylan) – 6/17/23


[Video: Matt Frazier]

Billy Strings – “Wargasm” – 6/17/23

[Video: Sojahsey1]

Billy Strings – “Long Forgotten Dream” – 6/17/23

[Video: Been there done that]

Billy Strings – “California Sober” – 6/17/23

[Vidoe: Gribb 710]

Billy Strings – “My Alice” – 6/17/23

[Video: CorneiliusLibowitz]

Billy Strings – “Home Of The Red Fox” (Bill Emerson), “Know It All” – 6/17/23

[Video: Jim Bauw]

Billy Strings – “Fiddling Around” (Jeff Austin) – 6/17/23

[Video: Jim Bauw]

Billy Strings – “Turmoil & Tinfoil” – 6/17/23

[Video: Jim Bauw]

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Setlist [via Billybase]: Billy Strings | Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island | Chicago, IL | 6/17/23

Set 1: The Old Mountaineer (Bill Monroe), Hollow Heart, Life to Go (George Jones), Taking Water, Ice Bridges, Come Down the Mountain Katie Daly (Traditional), Love and Regret, Hellbender, Running, Shenandoah Breakdown (Bill Monroe), Show Me the Door, Drifter’s Escape (Bob Dylan), Leaders, Wargasm

Set 2: Long Forgotten Dream, How Long Have I Been Waiting for You (Jonathan Edwards and The Seldom Scene), This Old World, The Train That Carried My Girl From Town (Traditional), Catch & Release [1], Dos Banjos [2], California Sober [3], My Alice, Home of the Red Fox (Bill Emerson), Know It All, Fiddling Around (Jeff Austin), The Lonesome River (Carter Stanley), Turmoil & Tinfoil

Encore: Southbound (Doc Watson), Tennessee (Jimmy Martin)

[1] Billy Strings solo
[2] Dos Billys (Billy Strings on clawhammer banjo, Billy Failing on banjo)
[3] Dedicated to Willie Nelson