Kenny Chesney‘s I Go Back Tour, which included Kelsea Ballerini as his opening act, is officially history. The country music superstar ended the tour with two back-to-back shows in Orange Beach, Alabama on May 26 and 27, adding the May 26 date after the tour had already been booked.
“We usually close it down with a double,” Chesney says. “You have the two nights to come to terms with the fact that this – the magic of the band, the way No Shoes Nation brings it so hard, being together – really is over. How it feels when the buses roll home, or the planes take off for my fly guys, that last time is bittersweet. So, this gives us that two-show moment to accept what’s coming.
“And Orange Beach, the people who come for Memorial Day, they’re so much like my family and my friends growing up,” he continues. “They love the coastline and being together and music. For them, this is a vacation and being together, but it’s also letting off steam, having fun and remembering how great life can be. So, No Shoes Nation, part of our road family, are here to celebrate this with us, too.”
Chesney joined Ballerini for her No. 1 hit, “half of my hometown,” which they performed together during his concerts each night. For the final show, Chesney surprised Ballerini with a video montage of her life and career, from early childhood to performing on the I Go Back Tour.
“I didn’t mean for her to cry,” Chesney says. “But I wanted that moment in that song – about leaving and doing what people think is crazy, and everyone has an opinion, and it’s so scary when you’re a kid driving west – to really sink in. It’s not just how far she’s come, but it’s her heart and the way she’s not just making her dream, but a whole lot of little girls’ dreams come true.
“I wanted her to see it, and understand the power of what we do, what she means… and like the girl in ‘Big Star,’ it only comes with hard work, great songs and believing,” he adds.
Ballerini grew up idolizing Chesney, unaware that their “half of my hometown” duet would forever seal their friendship, and earn her the respect of the country music superstar.
— Kenny Chesney (@kennychesney) May 29, 2023
“Kelsea understands everything about where I come from, because she’s from there, too,” Chesney says. “She knows how hard it is to leave, how much you miss all those things that make you who you are… but also how the only way to chase the kind of dream she has is to do just that. It’s a tough call when you love home the way we both do, but for kids like us, there was never really a choice.
“When she texted me to sing on the song she’d written with some of our friends, I said, ‘Let me hear it,’ knowing she knew everything about who I was,” he continues. “As soon as I heard that first verse, I was in. And I have been one of Kelsea’s biggest fans ever since. She’s a writer, a girl who sings from her heart and isn’t afraid to honor where she comes from. To me, there was no other choice for this tour.”
Chesney will play both the Gulf Coast Jam in Panama City Beach and the Carolina Country Music Fest in June, in place of Morgan Wallen, who is on vocal rest. Find all of Chesney’s music and upcoming shows at KennyChesney.com.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of EB Media / Allister Ann