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Billy & Halloween Part 1

Like a Prime-Time wrestling Event, Billy Strings Halloweens bring together his greatest elements and these events have become recognized as once-in-a-lifetime spectacles, not to be missed.  

Give Billy Strings the Halloween Championship Belt,” Rolling Stone Magazine wrote the day after his 2023 Van Andel Scramble Wrestling-themed event.

Billy Strings at Space in 2015 dressed in ICP paint and a diaper. Playing with Don Julin (mandolin) & Kevin Gills (bass).

Billy’s showmanship and deep musical knowledge go on full display each Halloween, as does his entire team’s efforts preparing and producing each show. But long before the packed arenas with full band costumes, huge screens, and colorful balloon drops, Billy Strings sat backstage nursing his vision. 

Finishing his costume prep, Billy tucked himself into then-girlfriend, now-wife, Ally Dale’s lap masked in Insane Clown Posse face paint, donning a pacifier and wearing nothing but a diaper: “feeding the juggababy before his set,” Dale laughed in her blue whigged clown costume, before Billy took the stage that night in 2015 at the Space in Evanston, IL. 

Juggababy rather appropriately was in the infancy of Billy’s Halloween shows.  Now he can also tick off “Bird Theme” (2018), “A Clockwork Orange” (2019), “Wizard of Oz” (2021), “Lord of the Rings” (2022) and most recently the wrestling-themed “Van Andel Scramble” (2023).

Drawing from that first show—the in-character Billy banter, the fully made up costume, and the raw conversation with the crowd—Billy’s push to keep building these experiences grows every year.

Recently, Strings has added more electric elements, friendly guest-filled spots, and an array of covers often mirroring the content of the Halloween theme’s story i.e. songs that align with what’s happening in a part of “Clockwork Orange” or “Wizard of Oz.”  The sophistication in both musicality and production has grown exponentially every year.

Seattle’s Tractor Tavern in 2018 saw the first year the entire band was in costume—dressed as eagles—and they played a bird-themed set list

Billy Strings Halloween 2019 at the Orange Peel: “A Clockwork Orange.”

e.g. Learning to Fly,” “Bird Song,” and “Free Bird” among many more. (Note: this show was also the debut of Billy’s Prison Guitar with the band.)

The following year found the band stepping up the production of the show to fit the size of the 1k+ Orange Peel.  The theme also grew more sophisticated: “A Clockwork Orange,” Stanley Kubrick’s famous on-screen interpretation of the twisted novel  by Anthony Burgess.  The band in full costume and the stage decorated with mannequins, Billy also guided the band into music pulled directly from the film—e.g. “Singing in the Rain”– incorporating it into the set list in a timely and coherent way.

After a brief break, Halloween returned with the same prowess and punch Billy garnered during the pandemic, as recognized by Pollstar.  Part 2 of “Billy & Halloween” will cover the next three mega Halloween events—”Wizard of Oz,” “Lord of the Rings,” and the “Van Andel Wrastlemania Scramble.”

Like many threads in Strings’ career, the elements and vision have been there since the beginning.  Now the stages and spaces are accommodating his early vision more, Halloween included.

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