Charles Kelley is taking his solo show on the road, and he's revealing his tour plans exclusively on our Ram Report.
After announcing last week that he's doing a solo side project during Lady Antebellum's fall and winter break, the singer is now filling his calendar with dates for 'The Driver' Tour, kicking off November 28th in Cleveland, Ohio. It'll be a whole new ballgame for Kelley, who is used to playing huge stadiums and arenas — something he's been doing all along with Lady A, given the trio's swift rise to fame that landed them on Martina McBride's tour before their first album even came out. For his own, 22-city headlining trek, he'll play smaller clubs and theaters and will do something he hasn't done in years: play music unfamiliar to his audience.
"It's gonna be fun to watch the fans hear a song they haven't heard before, because the project won't come out until early next year. So I go out there almost like we did with Lady Antebellum, with just one single on the radio, and have to prove myself. I miss that," he tells Rolling Stone Country. "You get so used to screaming and everybody knowing all the songs, and there's something really fun about getting out of your comfort zone."
While Kelley's crowds may be smaller, he still plans on traveling big. Along with longtime Lady A guitarist Jason "Slim" Gambill, the singer has put together a new band and a high-energy, plugged-in show that pinches no pennies.
"I'm not going to make a dime," Kelley says with a laugh. "It's funny, my business manager called me up and she goes, 'I hear you want to take two tour buses out.' I said, 'Yeah, there's gonna be 12 people and one tour bus is gonna be kinda tough.' And she goes, 'Well you know you're not going to make any money.' I said, 'I don't care. I'm doing this to feed the soul.'"
The singer, who hasn't yet revealed whether his solo collection will be an EP or full album, released his first solo single, "The Driver" (featuring guest vocals by Eric Paslay and Dierks Bentley) last week. The day before the song came out, Kelley debuted five other new tunes at a private show in Nashville — all of which are vocally reminiscent of Lady A's earlier days, when he showcased a bit more grit and more of a Southern rock flair.
Kelley promises to merge some of those beloved hits from his platinum-selling trio into his set list. To help him with Hillary Scott's vocal parts will be opening act Maren Morris, a celebrated singer-songwriter who just recently signed a record deal with Sony Music Nashville. This will be the first high-profile tour for the Texas native, who co-wrote Tim McGraw's "Last Turn Home" and Kelly Clarkson's "Second Wind."
"She's great," Kelley says of Morris. "We were talking about who to bring out there, and I thought it would be fun to bring out an up-and-comer. She's got a lot of buzz; she's got the perfect sound that will fit in with what we're doing."
Tickets for 'The Driver' tour go on sale Friday, October 16th at www.charleskelley.com. See a full list of cities and dates on the trek below.
November 28 - Cleveland, OH @ House of Blues
November 29 - Asbury Park, NJ @ The Stone Pony
December 1 - New York, NY @ Gramercy Theatre
December 3 - Charlotte, NC @ The Fillmore Charlotte
December 4 - Tallahassee, FL @ The Moon
December 5 - Atlanta, GA @ Tabernacle
December 10 - Kansas City, MO @ Uptown Theatre
December 11 - Oklahoma City, OH @ Diamond Ballroom
December 12 - St. Louis, MO @ The Pageant
December 17 - Dallas, TX @ House of Blues
December 18 - Houston, TX @ House of Blues
December 19 - New Orleans, LA @ House of Blues
January 7 - Milwaukee, WI @ The Rave
January 8 - Chicago @ House of Blues
January 9 - Cincinnati, OH @ Bogart's
January 16 - Washington, D.C. @ The Fillmore Silver Springs
January 17 - Boston @ House of Blues
January 22 - Louisville, KY @ Mercury Ballroom
January 23 - Springfield, IL @ Boondocks
January 24 - Sioux City, IA @ Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
January 26 - Denver @ Gothic Theatre
January 28 - Las Vegas @ House of Blues