UPDATE (12/26): Billy Strings has canceled his New Year’s Eve concerts slated for Dec. 30, 31, and Jan. 1 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The bluegrass singer-guitarist made the announcement via an Instagram message to fans. “We got two or three key players on our team that are Covid positive right now and they’re not going to be better by this weekend. We can’t pull the show off without them,” he said. “The health and safety of our loved ones (including everyone of you) is paramount. That’s why I have to sit this one out. I feel really shitty about it and hope to make it up to you somehow.”
As the spread of the Omicron variant reignites fears about another wave of Covid outbreaks in the U.S., the ongoing pandemic continues to throw a wrench into the normal operations of touring artists in the country and Americana sphere. Billy Strings and Brett Eldredge both canceled shows this week — in Nashville and Chicago, respectively — due to positive Covid cases within their circles.
“It is with the upmost [sic] sadness that we must cancel String the Halls due to a positive covid case within our crew,” Strings wrote on Instagram Friday. “No one wanted these shows to happen more than us, but we cannot risk the health and safety of you our beloved fans, our crew, the band, and the venue staff.”
A benefit for Nashville Rescue Mission, String the Halls was originally set for Dec. 17 and 18 at Marathon Music Works. Strings requested that fans who purchased donation items for the show take them directly to the shelter. He also promised to make show posters available for purchase, with proceeds benefiting the Nashville Rescue Mission.
Strings says he intends to play his New Year’s Eve run — Dec. 30, 31, and Jan. 1 — in Grand Rapids, Michigan. (Tickets for String the Halls can be refunded at point of purchase.) [Note: These dates have also been canceled.]
Meanwhile, singer Brett Eldredge postponed the Dec. 17 and 18 dates of his Glow Live holiday tour at the Chicago Theater after he himself tested positive.
“Today has been a really rough day,” Eldredge said in an Instagram Live video on Thursday, explaining that he’d not been feeling well and took multiple Covid tests. “I decided to go check to see one last time to make sure it wasn’t Covid. And unfortunately, it turns out it was Covid, which really sucks.”
Unlike Strings, Eldredge was able to reschedule both dates before the end of the year and will now perform the Chicago shows on Dec. 29 and 30.
The cancellations come as the live entertainment industry begins to reckon with yet another Covid wave, this one caused by the highly transmissible Omicron variant. In New York, Radio City Music Hall canceled four performances of its Christmas show because of positive cases within the production, while Broadway shows like Tina and Hamilton have also had to scrap performances. On Thursday, Nashville reported its first confirmed case of Omicron. The city will host a massive New Year’s Eve concert on Dec. 31 broadcast nationally on CBS.