Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen
The acoustic band Big Smith is playing their final show April 14 in Fayetteville, one of the last stops on their farewell tour.
The Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen Tour will have four stops, allowing the band to properly say goodbye to their fans.
The band’s event promoter Dwight Glenn believes a tour is the most appropriate way to end their career. “It would be impossible to adequately say goodbye to our fans with just one show,” he said.
Hailing from Springfield, Mo., Big Smith has been playing authentic Ozark music since 1996. The five cousins have accumulated a dedicated following across the Midwest, even extending their reach to venues in Colorado, Austin, Nashville and Chicago.
The band announced their retirement in November, stating that their final concerts will be held in their hometown. They have been a constant performer at George’s Majestic Lounge and will hold their Farewell to Fayetteville show there.
“We came to the realization that some of the band members needed to stop,” said mandolin player Jody Bilyeu. “I don’t know how I’ll feel when it’s over, but I’m amazed at how the community embraced us and our music.”
In a tragic turn of events during the band’s tour, bassist Bill Thomas suffered a stroke in January, losing feeling on the right side of his body for a few weeks after the incident. During a show at the Cherokee Casino in West Siloam Springs, the band noticed Bill’s lack of rhythm and jumbled words when he responded.
“When he hit the stage and I heard him playing bass, I immediately knew something was wrong,” said singer/guitarist Mark Bilyeu.
Thomas recuperated at the Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville, and is continuing on the tour with the band despite the stroke.
“It was clear that his musical ability was still there,” Mark said. “Talk about a wave of relief.”
The band hopes to convey their appreciation for all of the support that the community offered throughout their years in show business and throughout Thomas’ recuperation, citing George’s as one of their favorite places to perform.
“The community has been extremely helpful and extremely supportive,” Mark said. “We’ve always considered [Fayetteville] our home away from home.”
The final concerts for Big Smith will be held May 5 and 6 at Gillioz Theater in Springfield, Mo., promising to be an emotional show for both the band and its fans.