Photo Credit: Bryan Lasky

All aboard! On April 13, Billy Strings returned to the Yuengling Center in Tampa, Fla., for night two of his long-awaited Spring Tour 2024. Fraying from the expected, Strings followed in the footsteps of jamband vets Widespread Panic and Phish, applying themes to the first and second sets of his Sunshine State stand. Putting on his conductor hat, the frontman struck a train-centric concept during frame one, which featured 12 covers, including the Vermont foursome’s “Back on the Train.” For his follow-up, the motif mavin pulled in songs about animals, keeping with the concert’s thematic approach. 

As a sonic nod at what was to come, the band arrived on stage to a rumble of steam and the chug-a-chug-a-chug-a of steel on rails, which took them to their first stop: The Larry Spark’s original, turned Strings’ EP included, “Slow Train.” Like a billow of smoke, the band ascended into The Seldom Scene’s “Old Train,” followed by the Elizabeth Cotton standard, “Freight Train,” representing a first-time play for the entire band and a bust out for Strings, who closed a 595 show gap, since his last performance of the tune in 2018. 

The set’s motif became ever-apparent as the ensemble locked into a steady lineup of covers that were harnessed to the rails, including a pair of Doc Watson covers, “Ridin’ That Midnight Train” and “Greenville Trestle High,” and Roy Acuff and His Smoky Mountain Boys’ original “Streamline Cannonball.” Strings blew the dust off “Last Train From Poor Valley,” which was last played in 2022, before traditional “I’d Like To Be A Train” and Gussie Davis’ “The Baggage Coach Ahead.”

With the station looming and the final stop (or set break) ahead, the band added their final homages to locomotives with Charlie Monroe’s “Bringing In The Georgia Mail,” Blackfoot’s “Train, Train,” and finally, Phish’s “Back on the Train.” The latter tune seemed to acknowledge Trey Anastasio, Mike Gordon, Jon Fishman, and Page McConnell, who have been known to treat their audience to a setlist contrived of meaning or playful patterns/messages.  

With the arrival of the second frame, Strings molded a new motif, which began to take shape on “Living Like an Animal,” followed by a pair of traditional numbers, “Molly And Tenbrooks” and “Forked Deer.” Critters continued creeping into the frame with a bust out of Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys’ “Goodbye Old Pal,” ending a 142 show gap. Arthur Collins’ original “The Preacher & The Bear” came before Strings’ own “Love and Regret,” the band wasted little time before turning back to their archive of borrowed favorites with Doc and Merle Watson’s “Sheeps In The Meadow” which bled into Johnny Horton’s “Ole Slew-Foot.” 

Billy Failing celebrated his own pet next, playing “Charlie’s Birthday Breakdown,” an original instrumental, in honor of his pup. The Beatles’ “And Your Bird Can Sing” was a full-band delivery prior to a solo String run-through on “Groundhog” and the first-time play, “Muskrat.” Jimmy Driftwood’s “Tennessee Stud” came on the heels of “Pig in a Pen” and set closer, John Hartford’s “All Fall Down.” For the night’s encore, Strings and company went with a convergence of “Away From The Mire” and “Dust In A Baggie.” 

After the band’s Tampa, Fla., tour openers, they will take a brief break before returning to their Spring Tour schedule for a sold-out Wednesday night appearance on the Enmarket Arena stage in Savannah, Ga. For more information on Strings’ Spring Tour, visit his official website

Billy Strings 

Yuengling Center – Tampa, Fla. 

April 13, 2024

Set I: Train Intro!, Slow Train, Old Train, Freight Train@#, Ridin’ That Midnight Train, Greenville Trestle High, Streamline Cannonball, Last Train From Poor Valley$, I’d Like To Be A Train, The Baggage Coach Ahead, Bringing In The Georgia Mail, Train, Train, Back On The Train

Set II: Living Like An Animal%, Molly And Tenbrooks, Forked Deer, Goodbye Old Pal^, The Preacher & The Bear, Love and Regret, Sheeps In The Meadow& > Ole Slewfoot, Charlie’s Birthday Breakdown, And Your Bird Can Sing, Groundhog*, Muskrat*?, Tennessee Stud, Pig In A Pen > All Fall Down

Enc.: Away From The Mire > Dust In A Baggie


! The 1st set had a train theme and was comprised of all train songs

@ Last Time Played 2018-07-21–595 show gap

# FTP with full band

$ Last Time Played 2022-09-24–148 show gap

% The 2nd set had an animal theme and was comprised of all animal songs

^ Last Time Played 2022-10-06–142 show gap

& Last Time Played 2023-03-03–101 show gap

* Billy Strings solo

? FTP – Merle Travis

~ Last Time Played 2020-05-01–349 show gap

Setlist via