Billy Strings made his late-night debut on Monday, performing on Jimmy Kimmel Live! with his band. But it wasn’t simply a promotional push for his latest album, 2019’s Home. Instead, the bluegrass prodigy was raising awareness about the plight of independent music venues, many of which are in danger of closing for good without a federal bailout.
Strings played his song “Taking Water” at one such venue, Nashville’s venerable bluegrass and string-music outpost the Station Inn. “This ol’ boat is taking water/It won’t be long till it goes down,” Strings sang in the chorus, which can be viewed as a metaphor for the venue crisis. Along with Strings’ Station Inn performance, he and his band also delivered an at-home rendition of “Watch It Fall.”
According to the National Independent Venue Association, 90 percent of music venues are in jeopardy of shutting down. NIVA is asking music fans to petition Congress for help via the website saveourstages.com.
Strings is currently on a streaming tour, playing venues throughout Nashville. He’ll perform two shows at City Winery on July 22nd and 23rd, two gigs at Exit/In on the 24th and 25th, and a final concert at 3rd & Lindsley on July 26th. A portion of the proceeds will be divided among charity partners, including the ACLU, Backline, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.