They’re doing it all over Florida and Arizona… Getting the equipment, loading up the gear and digging in. And for Kenny Chesney and his No Shoes Nation, it’s no different. As February finds its legs, the 4-consecutive Academy of Country Music and 4-time Country Music Association Entertainer is already waist high in video footage for an even bigger video presence and sorting through lighting designs, and on Feb. 13, the band reports to an undisclosed location to begin musical rehearsals for what promises to be Chesney’s biggest tour to date.
“I used to say we’re like a baseball team: six months on, six months off, because I love baseball so much,” Chesney says. “But the truth is, what we do to create what people see from a show this size out there on the road really does take a lot of work, a lot of thought and a lot of practice. And the great thing about my crew is they get as much a charge seeing the fans respond to what goes into all this work as the band and I do when we’re on stage.”
With “Pirate Flag,” the swaggering anthem of rebellion right where you are, being Hot Shot Debut, Breaker, Most Increased Audience and Most Added at Billboard this week, where it hit the charts at #22 marking his 8th Top 25 debut. The next closest Top 25 chartbreaker is the iconic Garth Brooks who’s done it four times.
For Chesney, who appears at the Musicares’ Person of the Year dinner honoring Bruce Springsteen as Friday’s Grammy kick-off event, he’s been in edit bays and looking at schematics of lighting rigs since January. But for the songwriter/entertainer, it all gets a little more exciting when the band reports for rehearsals.
“That’s when the music really starts happening, and everybody’s playing and catching up,” Chesney offers. “These are my brothers of the road, and we live to get out there and be a part of everybody’s summer! So when we’re working up the new songs – and ‘Pirate Flag’ is gonna rock – or maybe something people haven’t heard in a while, we’re already imagining how the fans are gonna respond!
“The No Shoes Nation are the best music fans in the world – that’s why we named the tour after the fans! They love these songs like they live their lives in’em, and we take that serious. They come out every summer and throw everything they got at us so hard, that’s why we rehearse – just the band – for a couple weeks before we even think about production! The music has to be right, so we’re gonna make sure we’re ready.”
Kicking off March 16 at Tampa’s Raymond James’ Stadium, home of the Buccaneers, the No Shoes Nation Tour plays a mixture of NFL Stadiums, basketball arenas and outdoor amphitheaters across the country. With “Pirate Flag” named USA Today’s Song of the Week before release and Life On A Rock due April 30, it looks like it could be the No Shoes Nation’s best summer…ever.