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Kenny Chesney Keeps Turning It Up

Of the Oakland Press

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Last year, Kenny Chesney sang about “Living in Fast Forward” — an apt description of his past 11 years.

The 38-year-old Tennessee native is as big as they come in country music these days, and he’s celebrating that this summer with a tour that’s playing some of the biggest venues of his career, including stadiums in Seattle, Boston, Tampa, Nashville and, this weekend, Detroit.

“It seems like every year we turn it up a notch,” notes Chesney, who in May notched his second consecutive Entertainer of the Year award from the Academy of country music, while his latest album, “The Road and the Radio,” debuted at No. 1 on the country and pop charts and has sold more than 2.4 million copies.

“I don’t know how we keep doing that,” Chesney says, “but it seems to happen with us on stage and with the crowd also. So to be able to win Entertainer of the Year two years in a row, I realize that it’s a small list of people that have accomplished that and done that and I am honored and thrilled to add my name to that short list ...

“It means that all the hard work and all the focus and all the energy that you put into your career is paying off.”

But, Chesney adds, that only motivates him to keep making albums and especially putting on concerts that will keep those fans coming back.

“I do have to believe that we didn’t sell all those concert tickets this year because I won (the Academy of Country Music’s) Entertainer of the Year,” notes the man who was country’s top touring act in 2005, drawing 1.2 million fans for a gross of $61.8 million. “I think that might have helped some, but I really believe that the people that are coming to our show and partying out in the parking lot before the show hours before I go on stage, they’re doing it because they’re having a great time, not because I just won that award.

“I think people are hopefully gonna still look forward to us coming to town every summer.”

Of course, it’s never hurt that in addition to all his hits, Chesney also has been one of country’s hottest sex symbols — even during his brief marriage to actress Renée Zellweger. He was even on People magazine’s Hottest Bachelors list in June.

His feelings about that? Right out of the “aw shucks” playbook ...

“Y’know, I’m the same guy I always was,” Chesney, who releases a live album called “Live Those Songs Again” on Sept. 19, says with a laugh, “and all of a sudden they think I’m sexy. I sing a lot of songs about women; maybe they’re latching on to that.

“And I am one of the few (country stars) that are single out there. ... I don’t know what to think about all that, to be honest with you. But I don’t hate it, either.”


The annual Downtown Hoedown was held three months ago, but the Motor City gets its twang on again Saturday (August 26th) when country music fills the air in downtown three locations. Put your hat and boots on and check out any of these festivities:

* Kenny Chesney (with special guest Uncle Kracker), Gretchen Wilson, Dierks Bentley, Carrie Underwood, Blaine Larsen and Jake Owen perform at 4:30 p.m. at Ford Field. Tickets are $81 and $68.50. Call (313) 262-2000 or visit www.fordfield.com.

* WYCD-FM (99.5) hosts a Beach Bash before the show starting at 11 a.m. in Ford Field's Lot 4. The national band the Lost Trailers perform at 1:30 p.m., bookended by local acts Sarah Lenore, Redhill, the Hunter Brucks Band and Wildfire, which will perform a Jimmy Buffett tribute set. Admission is free.

* Five more local acts -- the Wrenfields, Terrie Lea & the Mustangs, Tim Diaz, Horse Crave Trio and the Red Ryder Band -- will perform a free show starting at 11 a.m. at Campus Martius Park.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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