When Miranda Lambert walked offstage at Denver’s Pepsi Center on March 2nd of 2020, it marked the last time she would perform in front of paying fans for more than a year. That dry spell came to an end last week when Lambert played her first three of five scheduled indoor concerts at Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth.

A cavernous 100,000-square-foot space, Billy Bob’s has become a live-music institution in Texas since opening in 1981. Willie Nelson, Garth Brooks, and ZZ Top have all performed there. Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry, and Bob Hope once headlined a New Year’s Eve party at the club. And in the coming days, artists like Thomas Rhett, Gary Allan, and Lynyrd Skynyrd will take the stage as part of the honky-tonk’s ongoing 40th anniversary celebration — even as the Covid-19 pandemic remains a threat. While nearly 10.7 million of the state’s 29 million residents have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported 1,390 new cases and seven deaths on Monday.

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