Our favorite poet and pirate Kenny Chesney wasn’t intending to make a live album when he started recording his shows in 2007. He just knew there were so many special, magic nights and he wanted the tapes to remember them. And then when he finished his Spread the Love 2018 Tour, the man The Wall Street Journal deemed “The King of the Road” decided to go back and listen to hear how these songs have evolved over the past 10 years.
“Even more than the way the guys have found new spots inside the songs, the horns or the special guests,” Chesney marvels, “It was the sound of No Shoes Nation that really caught my ear. They were so loud, and they only got louder over the years. I guess I thought some of these songs would fade for people over time, but that wasn’t necessarily the case. Even more than that, hearing them really got me fired up. The energy No Shoes Nation brings is its own rocket fuel.”
So, Kenny Chesney took those recordings into the studio and started really listening. The more he combed through the tapes, the more he knew his next project was going to be a live album – something that captures not just the songs or the musicians, but the people who shared all those nights with the 8-time Entertainer of the Year.
“In some cases, it was hard to decide,” says the songwriter/superstar from East Tennessee. “Every version of the song was better than the last one. I think I could’ve used so many different nights. ‘Anything But Mine’ was one of those songs: people were so hungry to sing it with us. At the end, we just let the whole song die – and let the audience take it. Some nights, I swear, they sound better than we do!
“That’s the thing about these songs, to me. I may record them, and be on the radio with them, but night after night on that stage, No Shoes Nation shows me: those songs are theirs. They invest their life, and their loves, and their heartbreaks into what these songs are… And when they sing, ‘In the morning I’m leaving, making my way back to Cleveland…’ it could be anywhere. That’s not what matters; what matters is that summer love, the one they’ll never forget.”
Working hard to create a document that reflects that passion has consumed a great deal of Chesney’s year off. Laughing, he admits, “If you want to really miss being out there, rocking, listen to ten years of the greatest fans in the world day-after-day.” Between listening, comparing, mixing, and sequencing, the guy the Los Angeles Times called “The People’s Superstar” has unearthed some obscure jewels, found some alternative versions, and caught some special moments with good friends that were only for the night.
Whether its stadium shows, pop-up bar gigs, amphitheaters, or the occasional beach takeover, No Shoes Nation was there celebrating their lives in his songs. For Chesney, it was not letting the obvious choices overwhelm songs that have been fan-favorite album tracks and sentimental touchstones. Culled from over a thousand hours of concerts seeking definitive performances, Live in No Shoes Nation promises a no-holds-barred, once in a lifetime trek through the music that has made Chesney the only country artist in Billboard’s Top 10 Touring Acts of the Last 25 Years.
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