Kenny Chesney on Life Post-‘Revival’: ‘There’s This Double-Edged Sword’
And if there is one thing that everyone who knows Chesney knows — whether it is new friends or people he’s had relationships with for decades — it is that he cares.
“The guy’s really thoughtful and he’s really polite and he takes care of everybody,” says singer-songwriter David Lee Murphy, who had the distinction of playing the first two shows in Nashville and the last two in Foxborough, joining Chesney both times for raucous renditions of his hits, “Dust on the Bottle” and “Party Crowd.” (Murphy has also written a passel of hits for others including Chesney’s “Pirate Flag” and “Living in Fast Forward” and Aldean’s “Big Green Tractor.”)
“He wants everybody to feel special and all you’ve got to do is go to his show to see how hard he works,” says Murphy, who jokes Chesney should don a Fitbit during his live shows to track his mileage. “He probably ran five miles last night!”
That work ethic, routinely playing two and a half high-energy hours, is nothing new, says Murphy, who has known Chesney for more than 20 years and recalls playing a show with him to roughly 400 people at a “Rattlesnake Round-up” in Alabama in the Nineties. “He’s pretty constant. When he gets up there, that’s not an act that you see. That’s a guy that just loves to make music and write songs and play them,” he says, adding with a laugh, “Just now he plays Gillette Stadium two nights.”
Matthew Ramsey of Old Dominion had not known Chesney prior to his group hitting the road as the opener for the ‘Big Revival’ tour and was surprised by the friendliness of the headliner in their initial conversations. “He talked to me like he’d known me forever,” says Ramsey. “The way he runs his operation from top to bottom, you never meet anybody in a bad mood, everyone is treated with such care.” On the second to last night of the tour, Chesney invited Ramsey and Old Dominion bandmate Brad Tursi out for the live debut of his current hit, “Save It for a Rainy Day,” which was written by the pair.
Sure, he’s the boss, but the praise for Chesney’s equanimity is universal. Spend enough time around him and you’ll see why; he’s a person who is unfailingly gracious given the level of stardom he has attained. Whether it is the sponsors with whom he snaps pics backstage at Gillette or the fans to whom he offers a special moment at the meet and greet, Chesney wears his fame very lightly, if at all.
It is not that his presence is unassuming, exactly, it is that he is eminently open. He can address crowds upwards of 60,000 — making Gillette Stadium feel like a back porch hootenanny as he leads a deafening singalong of “Boston”— and make you feel like you are the only person in the world that he wants to be talking to in a particular moment.
Even when he has a major commercial shoot unexpectedly appear on his schedule during the final two shows — admittedly tired and with the finish line in sight, it is not ideal timing — Chesney rolls with the punches as cameras follow him through the bowels of the stadium chronicling his day-of-show routine. But ever the cut-up, he manages to give a sly wink to folks standing outside the shot. (The company for which Chesney is shooting the spot is on the DL, but, suffice to say, the man who has generally eschewed reality television, perfumes, and other tenuous brand extensions has chosen a major player for his rare advertising moment and will likely be inescapable on TV this fall.)
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