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Entertainment Weekly Gets Real with Kenny Chesney on Spread The Love Tour

Kenny Chesney, Miranda Lambert and Sam Hunt photographed at Steel Mill Rehersal Space in Nashville, TN on April 14, 2016 Hunt's Grooming: Alex Wingo; Lambert's hair: Ali Ryan; Makeup: Megan Thompson; Styling: Tiffany Gifford (NO GROOMING CREDIT FOR CHESNEY)

As the only country artist on Billboard’s Top Touring Acts of the Last 25 Years – even though he has only done a dozen headlining tours since 2002 –Kenny Chesney’s NFL stadium-filling treks have become a rite of summer. So when Entertainment Weekly was putting together their annual Summer Music Issue, there was only one tour to get inside: Chesney’s 2016 Spread The Love Tour with  Miranda Lambert,  Sam Hunt and  Old Dominion.

“The idea of sitting down with Sam and Miranda, talking about the road and music really appealed to me,” said the 8-time Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music Entertainer of the Year. “Beyond how many trucks or favorite memories, they wanted to have a real talk about the state of what we do, what makes shows really click – and how awesome I think all of these acts touring with us this summer are.”

Meeting at an industrial complex rehearsal space in Nashville, Chesney, Lambert and Hunt took part in a photo shoot with noted photographer Danny Clinch, who’s also shot several of Chesney’s album covers. Then the trio retired to a tiny production room for an hour-long roundtable interview about what the summer will hold.

Sub-headlined “From portable bars to finding new fans, country’s biggest stars reveal the best parts of hitting the road together,” writer Madison Vain made connections between Lambert’s prior touring with Chesney, Hunt’s first breakthrough coming from Chesney’s No. 1 version of “Come Over” and the way some thrills of road life never fade. Read a preview of the piece here.

With “Noise,” the last-minute swapped single from Some Town Somewhere being Chesney’s most-added first week single ever, the man the Dallas Morning News called “Two parts Mick Jagger, one part Bruce Springsteen, one part Billy Graham” is hitting a new creative peak. Spread The Love reflects that passion for music among all of this year’s participants.

“Normally, I don’t like to give too much away before the shows really get into the pocket,” Chesney says of the decision to give Entertainment Weekly such an in-depth interview. “But this is such a creative, musical bunch… and everyone out here loves music with that same intense passion that my guys do, so we figured: why not? And to talk music like that with people I respect so much, well, it was a pretty cool way to spend a morning.”

Having kicked off with 50,430 members of the No Shoes Nation as the first concert at Auburn University’s Jordan-Hare Stadium, Spread The Love is already in high gear. By summer’s end, Chesney will have logged 135 stadium shows and well over a million fans on each of his 13 headlining tours.

As “Noise” hits Top 10, No Shoes Radio goes live on SiriusXM from Asbury Park, NJ’s Stone Pony tonight and Some Town Somewhere gets closer to its July 8 street date, this week’s Entertainment Weekly is a chance to see three stars unguarded and throwing down.

Kenny Chesney Rocks Asbury Park

kenny chesney

By the time Kenny Chesney leaned into his set’s last song almost two hours after taking the stage at the legendary Stone Pony, it was clear that the aptly titled “Don’t Happen Twice” captured the feeling of the chilly New Jersey night. Inside the belly-to-belly club, it was so hot the 8-time Entertainer of the Year was covered in sweat from the second song – and outside, the several hundred hopefuls who couldn’t get a ticket were bathed in the music rolling out of the open doors and onto Ocean Avenue.

For Chesney, the show capped the launch of his No Shoes Radio on SiriusXM. Like the radio station Chesney pioneered eight years ago, the set was eclectic – multi-instrumentalist Jon Conley did a spot-on Willie Nelson for “Whiskey River,” Harmoni Kelley did her now-expected take on AC/DC’s “Whole Lotta Rosie” and guitarist Clayton Mitchell did a blazing take on Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Pride And Joy” featuring a harmonica cutting contest between tour coordinator Robin Majors and legendary photographer Danny Clinch – and full of heartfelt moments, including rare performances of “The Life,” last fall’s three week No. 1 “Save It For A Rainy Day” and a rendition of “When I See This Bar” that had the audience singing the chorus response louder than the band.

“There’s something about playing a real live bar,” Chesney said. “The audience is so close, so ready for the music, it’s like the night explodes. For something being broadcast live across America, I can’t think of a better place to celebrate No Shoes Radio on SiriusXM.”

The audience – SiriusXM subscribers who won tickets – came in from across America. Aware of the lengths travelled, as well as the people listening at home, he sent regards to everyone “everywhere from Maine to Malibu.” Later introducing “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems,” he proclaimed “Everyone out there in the No Shoes Nation, this is your anthem – and has been since 2002!”

With “Noise,” the last minute swapped single from Some Town Somewhere being Chesney’s most added first week single ever, the man the Dallas Morning News called “Two parts Mick Jagger, one part Bruce Springsteen, one part Billy Graham” is hitting a new creative peak. His Spread The Love Tour reflects that passion for music among all of this year’s participants.

Towards the end of the set, Chesney talked to the audience of the debate he had about the next song. “Part of me thought it was cliché, part of me wanted to pay respect… This song was on my No Shoes album, and I got an amazing letter from my friend from Asbury Park. It was one of the highlights of my life. I believe Bruce is in Barcelona, so Bruce, greetings from Asbury Park!”

As the crowd cheered, an acoustic guitar part hushed the room – and Chesney’s easy baritone found its way through, “Woke up this morning, the house was cold/ Checked out the furnace, she wasn’t burnin’…” In a complete gear switch, he moved from the propulsive “Noise” and “American Kids” to the stunning “One Step Up,” and the audience followed him.

“That’s the thing about these sorts of shows: you can hit hard and throw fast, but the crowd is so right there, you can also make it pin-drop quiet in a few bars,” Chesney marveled. “It was the kind of night, the music could lead – and we let it.”

With his Spread The Love Tour, kicking off with 50,430 fans at Auburn University’s Jordan-Hare Stadium, heading to Mohegan Sun for two nights, Chesney’s summer is already blazing. With The Stone Pony show to fire him up, it’s gonna be quite a weekend.

Kenny Chesney Debuts “Noise” Music Video on Rollingstone.com

Credit: Jill Trunnel

Kenny Chesney made a video to match the reality-slamming urgency of “Noise,” the first single from Some Town Somewhere. Filled with quick cuts, slices of technology, talking heads, fashion models, vintage images, Donald Trump, a Kardashian and people yelling, the 8-time Entertainer of the Year was looking for somewhere to debut the groundbreaking clip where the cacophony he was trying to capture would truly be understood. There was only one choice: RollingStone.com.

 

“They have been the cultural and societal touchstone since I was a kid,” Chesney explains, “and that gives them the gravitas to reflect what Shaun and I were trying to capture in the song. This is not political, so much as social… if you want to get people to take it all in, to step back and really reflect, let’s put the video at the heart of where people who sort those things are.”

“…all in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shots. It’s almost like the music video equivalent of a Jackson Pollock painting: the busiest piece of art you’ve ever seen, with a million different strokes merged together into one beautifully chaotic theme,” offers RollingStone.com in their exclusive web-only feature around the clip, which debuted at 9 a.m. EDST (http://bit.ly/KCvideoRS).

The work of Chesney and longtime collaborator, award-winning director Shaun Silva, “Noise” is the visual manifestation of the song written as a reaction to too many shouting, not-talking heads, construction noise, sound pollution and tech overload.

“[The video] captures what was rolling around in my head, even in the initial conversation when we were writing. It really captured what I was thinking and the essence of how we can get lost in this fog and be drowned by all of it.”

Written en route to a marketing meeting for the original single from Some Town Somewhere, Chesney felt the song so captured the current moment. It was recorded 36 hours later – and the set-up was scrapped just two weeks before street date. The result? “Noise” became the most added song of the songwriter’s career.

He tells RollingStone.com, “We’re not preaching to anyone, we’re just making a statement about the way we live. The message is to try to be mindful of it. If you love someone, tell them you love them. Don’t text it to them! There is so much life to be lived outside our phones.”

With the 2016 Spread the Love Tour underway, Chesney is gearing up for a big summer. Some Town Somewhere lands July 8th. With “Noise,’’ just outside the Top 10, it’s only beginning.

Kenny Chesney Kicks Off Spread the Love Tour with 50,430 War Eagles

Credit: Allister Ann

Credit: Allister Ann

They hoisted the flag of the No Shoes Nation Monday. Friday afternoon, there was tell of a few songs played at the Lambda Chi house. By 8:50 Saturday night, the War Eagles were beyond ready for Kenny Chesney, who kicked off his 2016 Spread The Love Tour as the first ever concert in the 75-year history of Jordan-Hare Stadium, with two full hours.

With guitars blazing, a bumper crop of hits and guest appearances from tour mates Miranda Lambert (“You and Tequila”), Sam Hunt (“Come Over”) and Old Dominion (“Save It For A Rainy Day”), the 8-time Entertainer of the Year ran, laughed, and sang songs from a career that includes 28 No. 1s. The two dozen songs ignited the crowd, who sang along throughout, often taking an a cappella chorus on songs like “Anything But Mine” and “American Kids.”

“Sometimes you can feel the energy long before you hit the stage,” Chesney explained after the show. “It’s gathering, and you can sense it. This was one of those shows, one of those times. It was so intense, it was so there, this is the reason we do this: to play music and feel all that energy coming at us.”

The show – billed as the Music & Miracles Festival – was created to honor the last wish of Kevin Brown, who succumbed to cancer. Telling the crowd, “Before I came onstage, I got to meet so many great people… This show is because of Kevin: his dream specifically was to see us play in this stadium. And so, War Eagle…,” the audience began what became a two-minute chant of “War! War! War! Eagle!”

With only a piano, Chesney delivered a particularly heartfelt “My Home’s in Alabama” to honor the sentiment behind the event. But for much of the night, it was high impact and higher energy. Even a five-song lapse in his voice – remedied by Throat Coat Tea– didn’t slow down the man deemed “The King of the Road” by The Wall Street Journal. As the audience pumped their fists to “Noise,” his propulsive new single, the notion of being together and celebrating the night seemed to be the only thing on everyone’s mind.

Miranda Lambert, in a black leather mini skirt, offered a sultry take on Hank Williams’ “Move it on Over.” Then the 7-time CMA Female Vocalist scalded the crowd with a potent “Gunpowder and Lead.” American Music Awards Favorite New Country Artist Sam Hunt took momentum and rode the energy of his set for a performance that included diving off the stage and working his way through the crowd to the other end zone. ACM Best New Group Old Dominion opened the day with a set that included their two-week No. 1 “Break Up With Him.”

“Some years you just know from night one, it’s going to be special. When we named it Spread The Love, we got it right. To be able to hear the kind of music and the crowd I did all afternoon, it really gets me fired up to get on that stage and make some music. We started back in February with everything pointed at tonight. From the first second we heard that crowd, all the work was beyond worth it! Miranda, Sam, Old Dominion and every single person totally rocked our world. This is what memories are made of.”

As “Noise” blazes into the Top 10, the 2016 Spread the Love Tour starts on a high note. With dates at Albuquerque, New Mexico’s Isleta Amphitheater on May 5 and Phoenix, Arizona’s Chase Field on May 7, summer is now officially underway.

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