Billy Strings had plenty to celebrate in 2022. From starting off the year with a trip to the Grammy Awards with a pair of nominations, ascending to playing arenas, turning 30, completing his first tour of Europe, and fulfilling a lifelong dream of releasing an album with his dad, the bluegrass guitarist had quite a bit to reflect on during a New Year’s run in New Orleans. Over the course of two shows at the UNO Lakefront Arena, Strings waved goodbye to his biggest year yet and gazed through the windshield to 2023.

There was extra cause to celebrate during the opening show on Saturday, with December 30th marking what would have been John Hartford‘s 85th birthday. The progressive bluegrass musician is a major influence on Strings, who honored the jamgrass forefather with a pair of back-to-back covers, “I’m Still Here” and “Steam Powered Aereo Plane”, which both arrived in the second set.

Between the two shows, Strings and his cohorts Billy Failing, Jarrod Walker, Royal Masat, and Alex Hargreaves delivered 74 songs. Among them were a bevy of covers, including a number of debuts. The first night witnessed Strings and co.’s first take on Blaze Foley‘s “Let Me Ride In Your Big Cadillac”, which arrived in the encore slot ahead of a New Orleans namecheck in Creedence Clearwater Revival‘s “Proud Mary”.

Saturday’s three-set marathon started off with a run of covers by Leroy Drumm and Cal Freeman, Jerry Reed, and Chris Henry, ahead of the debut of Willie Nelson‘s “Hands on the Wheel”. In the second set, Strings would double down on his love for Blaze Foley with the location-specific “Rudee Down In New Orleans”. Though his birthday was over, Strings also made sure to fit in some more John Hartford by performing “With A Vamp In The Middle”.

As the clock inched toward midnight, Strings and his bandmates ignited the third set with a “Meet Me At The Creek” that would run out the clock on 2022. The year-end countdown was accompanied by a photo montage of the band and fans from this past year. For the first song of 2023, the band opted for the relevant “Ridin’ That Midnight Train” from The Carter Family.

After loading the remainder of the show with originals like”Secrets”, “Bronzeback”, and “Highway Hypnosis” alongside covers of Pearl Jam and Bill Emerson, Strings set his sights toward home by closing the run with an encore of “Tennessee”. Strings heads back to the Volunteer State for a well-deserved month off before conquering Colorado with a three-night run at 1stBank Center in Broomfield February 2nd–4th. Tickets and a full list of tour dates are available on his website.

After the show, Strings confirmed his 2023 return to New Orleans, set for December 29th–31st.


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Billy Strings – “The Fire On My Tongue” > “Must Be Seven” [Pro-Shot] – 12/30/22

Billy Strings – “Tangled Up In Blue” (Bob Dylan) > “Show Me The Door” – 12/30/22

[Video: Amy Karibian]

Billy Strings – “Away From The Mire”, “Long Forgotten Dream” – 12/30/22

[Video: Amy Karibian]

Billy Strings – “I’m Still Here” (John Hartford), “Steam Powered Aereo Plane” (John Hartford) – 12/30/22

[Video: G Robbins]

Billy Strings – “Hide and Seek” – 12/30/22

[Video: Amy Karibian]

Billy Strings – “Slow Train” (Leroy Drumm, Cal Freeman) [Pro-Shot] – 12/31/22

Billy Strings – “All Fall Down” (John Hartford) – 12/31/22

[Video: Amy Karibian]

Billy Strings – “Meet Me At The Creek” – 12/31/22

[Video: Amy Karibian]

Billy Strings – “Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town” (Pearl Jam) – 12/31/22

[Video: Amy Karibian]

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Setlist: Billy Strings | UNO Lakefront Arena | New Orleans, LA | 12/30/22

Set One: The Fire On My Tongue > Must Be Seven, Psycho (Eddie Payne) > Pyramid Country, Ole Slewfoot (Johnny Horton), Hellbender, Tangled Up In Blue (Bob Dylan) > Show Me The Door, Gone A Long Time, Down Yonder (L. Wolfe Gilbert), While I’m Waiting Here > Thunder (Robert Hunter)

Set Two: Know It All, Taking Water, Ice Bridges, Dreadful Wind & Rain (Jerry Garcia, David Grisman), On The Line > Train 45 (Traditional), This Old World > Ernest T. Grass (Ronnie Bowman, Dan Tyminski) > How Mountain Girls Can Love (Carter Stanley), John Deere Tractor (Lawrence Hammond), My Alice, Away From The Mire, Long Forgotten Dream, I’m Still Here (John Hartford), Steam Powered Aereo Plane (John Hartford), Hide & Seek

Encore: Let Me Ride In Your Big Cadillac (Blaze Foley) [1], Proud Mary (Creedence Clearwater Revival)

[1] FTP

Setlist: Billy Strings | UNO Lakefront Arena | New Orleans, LA | 12/31/22

Set One: Slow Train (Leroy Drumm, Cal Freeman), Likes Of Me (Jerry Reed), West Dakota Rose (Chris Henry), Hands On the Wheel (Willie Nelson) [1], Fire Line > Reuben’s Train (Traditional), Love & Regret, Where Is My Sailor Boy? (Traditional), All Fall Down (John Hartford)

Set Two: Rudee Down In New Orleans (Blaze Foley) [1], Freeborn Man (Keith Allison, Mark Lindsay), End Of The Rainbow (Frank Wakefield), Rank Stranger (Albert E. Brumley), Everything’s The Same, Heartbeat Of America, In The Morning Light, John Hardy (Traditional), Running The Route, With A Vamp In The Middle (John Hartford) > Tentacle Dragon (Revenge Of The) (Béla Fleck), Dust In A Baggie

Set Three: Meet Me At The Creek [2], Ridin’ That Midnight Train (Ralph Stanley), Nothing’s Working, Secrets, Bronzeback, Home, The Train That Carried My Girl From Town (Traditional), Love Like Me, Highway Hypnosis, Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town (Pearl Jam), Home Of The Red Fox (Bill Emerson) > Little Maggie (Traditional)

Encore: Tennessee (Doyle Neikirk, Jimmy Martin)

[1] FTP

[2] 2023 was greeted with confetti and balloons at midnight

As midnight approached and the band played pictures of the band and fans from 2022 flashed over the big screen with a countdown to the new year.