Weather Updates

McGraw, Chesney tour caps long friendship

2012 BamaJam Music Arts Festival - Day 1

2012 BamaJam Music and Arts Festival - Day 1

storyidforme: 33078569
tmspicid: 11999157
fileheaderid: 5477511


♦ 4:30 p.m. July 7

♦ Soldier Field, 1410 S. Museum Campus Drive,

♦ Tickets, $99.50-$259.50

♦ (800) 745-3000;

Updated: August 7, 2012 6:15AM

TAMPA, Fla. — This is no ordinary friendship — or concert tour.

The 22-city stadium tour that brings Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw to Soldier Field on Saturday is a high point of the country superstars’ careers and friendship.

The two men met at a bar in Nashville more than 20 years ago. Chesney had just moved to the city and didn’t know anyone. McGraw had a record contract but had yet to put out a single.

McGraw joked that they would hang out at each other’s apartments “depending on who had paid the electric bill that month.”

“That’s not a lie,” Chesney added.

Neither dreamed they would ever headline a tour, much less enter territory attempted by few music acts of any genre as they co-headline this tour together. Today they are two of country music’s top draws, and by combining forces on the “Brothers of the Sun” tour they’re headlining what some are calling country music’s biggest tour ever.

“You don’t dream that,” said Chesney, pointing at the enormous stage inside Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium. “I just wanted a song on the radio.”

Added McGraw: “We wanted to have big careers. We wanted to go out and set the world on fire. But you know, in the back of your mind, you always think, ‘If I could just get a hit song, I’d be happy.’ ”

The tour is so much more than a hit song or even your usual arena show. It’s composed of three complete stage systems, 85 tractor-trailers, 240 roadies and two culinary staffs, according to tour manager Ed Wannebo.

The tour — and especially the stage set — “consumed” Chesney. It started with ideas conceived with “a pen and napkin,” and planning and preparation began months ago.

“Building that,” Chesney said while pointing to the stage, “There’s a lot that goes into it. I have my hands on basically everything on that stage, the way it looks, the way it moves, everything. That’s just the way I am. I’m very hands-on. I care what it looks like, because I want to give the fans the best possible experience.”

McGraw said he and Chesney initially wanted to do just a couple of large shows, but the plan grew.

Each performer will have his own set, and the pair, who released the dual single “Feel Like a Rock Star” in anticipation of the tour, will join together to top off the night. Supporting act Grace Potter likely will join Chesney for a rendition of their steamy hit “You and Tequila.” And McGraw, fresh off a new deal with Big Machine Records, will unveil new songs he’s been working on for his next album.

“You try to entertain the last guy that you see in the very top row back there,” McGraw said. “Make him feel special, make him feel like his money was worth it.”


© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.