Bluegrass in The Big Easy: Billy Strings Comes to New Orleans

Frenchmen Street isn’t just for Halloween — the lively street is a great place at any time of year to find live music in the intimate venues for which New Orleans is famous. One might expect jazz to dominate these venues, but this Saturday, Nov. 10, bluegrass is coming to Frenchmen in the form of Billy Strings. Strings, who Rolling Stone named one of 10 country artists to know in Aug. 2017, will perform for the first time in New Orleans at d.b.a. this weekend. The 11 p.m. showtime might seem late, but this lively take on “progressive bluegrass” will definitely keep audiences wide awake.

Courtesy of Billy Strings publicity

Strings is based in Nashville, but according to him, he has been on tour “for the past six years.” That kind of energy can only point to a passionate musician who really loves to perform.

“Music is such a beautiful, spiritual thing,” Strings said, calling to mind music’s therapeutic role for so many people, including the performer. It’s hard to find anyone on whom music hasn’t had some kind of impact. After six years on the road, Strings would know how powerful the cramped, buzzing energy of an intimate live concert can be.

“I get to bond with so many people,” Strings said of what he loves best about performing. That bond, fleeting though it may be, isn’t one sided — according to a Nielsen report, 50 percent of Americans chase that artist-fan connection at at least one live music event per year. Given the popularity of events such as Voodoo Music and Arts Festival among Tulane students, we aren’t any different.

With so many big names touring New Orleans, though, it’s easy for Tulanians to miss out on smaller-venue acts like Strings and his band, including Billy Failing on banjo, Jarrod Walker on mandolin and Royal Masat on bass. Unfortunately, sometimes recordings just can’t do music justice.

“I consider us a live music band,” Strings said. “You gotta come see us live to really see what we’re about.”

If you’re looking for a reason to get out of the Tulane bubble, come by d.b.a. this Saturday night. Audiences will see why, even in a city known for jazz, they can experience the intimacy and energy of live performance through another genre deeply rooted in Southern culture. Strings’ music calls up the image of the humid, front-porch kind of dusk native to Louisiana — the kind of night that reminds us to take a deep breath and let ourselves just enjoy the music. Tickets are available until Saturday on for $18.

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