Words by Scotlyn Ogel
Over the course of the last six months, Fort Worth has seen many businesses close their doors in an effort to keep the community safe. This included Billy Bob’s Texas, a city staple, and the World’s Largest Honky Tonk.
Now, they are back, with a few new precautions, and ready to bring live music back to Fort Worth.
Following governor Greg Abbott’s shuttering of all bars in late June, Billy Bob’s shifted gears, applied for a new permit to qualify as a restaurant with their Honky-Tonk Kitchen, and then slowly started to reopen.
“In the six months that coronavirus had us down, the virus was not in our building,” said general manager Marty Travis. “My job now is to keep it out.”
With the reopening comes new regulations, including checking everyone’s temperature before they enter the building, and providing hand sanitizer stations throughout the building and on every table in the showroom.
They also have a “clean team” that consists of four to five people that walk around on Friday and Saturday nights, cleaning ‘anything that they can get their hands on.’
The venue, which can hold up to six thousand people, is currently maxing out at fifteen hundred in order to maintain social-distancing requirements.
In the midst of all the madness going on in the world, Billy Bob’s stayed busy during the time they were temporarily shut down. They used the time to do improvement projects on the building, so that when they opened back up, they’d be ready to get the ball rolling.
Over the past few months, Billy Bob’s also hosted three blood drives for the Red Cross and Carter Blood Care, were they got over a thousand pints of blood donated. They also hosted multiple live streams, where they raised about $15,000 for the Tarrant County Creator fund, which benefited local artists whose gigs were cancelled due to the pandemic.
In April, they hosted a concert benefiting the Texas FFA Foundation, with big names headlining the show such as Aaron Watson, Cody Johnson, and Casey Donahew.
“Whiskey Meyers also did a show here, and no one was in the room,” said Travis. “It was weird to see Whiskey Meyers, which is such a powerful band, come out and nobody be there.”
The money they made from the Whiskey Meyers live stream concert went directly to a bartender relief fund, which helped local bartenders who lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
Since reopening for shows, the venue has faced positive reactions from the community, with most people excited to have a safe place to go out to.
“There are a few people who have been hesitant about coming out because they don’t feel safe, and I understand that because it’s their choice,” said Travis. “But a lot more people have come up and said thank you for giving us a place to go.”
Billy Bob’s has shows lined-up through December, including newcomer Riley Green with back-to-back shows on September 24 and 25, Josh Weathers on September 26, and gigs with Eli Young Band and Robert Earl Keen, as well as others, later this year.
While the future of live music is up in the air due to so many unknowns, Billy Bob’s plans to do everything they can to stay a safe place for Fort Worth’s citizens to enjoy, and support local musicians as best they can.
For now, gigs will stay small, and musicians might charge a little extra, but Travis believes that it is important to continuously support them so they can keep live music alive.
“The key is for people to keep going out and supporting local businesses,” said Travis. “We are providing a safe place to go, relax, listen to live music, drink a little beer, and eat some food. Go out, and pump money back into the system.”
For more information on Billy Bob’s upcoming shows and new safety protocols, you can visit their website here.
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