Chesney Tour By The Numbers

Photo by Danny Clinch

A run-down of the 2011 Corona Presents Kenny Chesney’s ‘Goin’ Coastal’ Tour.

Here’s what it takes to make Goin’ Coastal a reality:
• 1,000,000—number of tickets sold thus far on the tour, with numerous shows left to go.
• 110—number of workers, including crew, drivers, caterers, sound and lighting techs, and musicians. For stadium shows, the number shoots up to 140.
• 23 trucks and 10 buses in Chesney’s fleet. While the trucks barrel on to the next stop, buses return home between shows along with the band and crew,
• 60,000—miles logged each tour.
• 80,000 pounds—weight of the ‘Goin’ Coastal’ stage set-up.
• 8—number of hours to set up for one show.
• 3—number of recent sold-out shows at Colorado’s famed Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
• 3—number of sides on the “periaktoi” columns which frame the stage. Influenced by ancient Greek theatre, one side features video tiles, the second features lighting and strobes, and the third is all mirrors.
• $39.50 plus fees—cheapest seat to his stadium show with ZBB in Kansas City, Missouri on July 30.
• $225 plus fees—most expensive ticket for the same show.

MR's Ross Shares Sales Insight With News 2

WKRN News 2 tapped MusicRow Publisher David Ross to give industry insider perspective for a story on last night’s evening news. The segment explored the recent bump in digital album sales, which climbed 19% in the first two quarters of 2011.
MusicRow subscribers who regularly follow Ross’s sales analysis will be familiar with the facts he shared with News 2. While digital album sales are on the rise, total album sales which include digital, are still on the decline. “Overall all genre album sales are down 34% over the last six years, and country music is down 44%,” Ross told reporter Jamey Tucker.
See the video below, following commercial. Or read the story here.

DISClaimer Single Reviews (7/13/11)

“After years of being nothing, they’re all looking right at you.”
That’s what it says in our Music Row anthem, “16th Avenue.” And that’s exactly what is happening to Blake Shelton right now. All at once, everything is going this man’s way. Male Vocalist award. Superstar wife. National TV stardom. Hit after hit. He deserves them all. As well as a Disc of the Day award for “God Gave Me You.”
Our DisCovery Award goes to a Canadian singer-songwriter who has a completely captivating album called Little Red Boots. If you buy one platter from today’s stack of sounds, by all means make it hers. Remember this name: Lindi Ortega.
BADHORSE/It’s All Good
Writer: Adam Grant/Robert E. Walden II/Charlie Gilbert; Producer: Larry Blackmon & Badhorse; Publisher: none listed; Global Maximus (
—More cowbell! The first thing you hear is the snap of a beer tab, then the stomping and romping begins. And, yes, the steady rhythm is punctuated by a cowbell. These guys sound like a built-in party.
MARTINA McBRIDE/I’m Gonna Love You Through It
Writer: Ben Hayslip/Sonya Isaacs/Jimmy Yeary; Producer: Martina McBride & Byron Gallimore; Publisher: WB/Melissa’s Money/Get a Load of This/Nashvistaville/Sonya Isaacs/Black to Black, ASCAP/BMI; Universal Republic
—A wife and mother faces cancer with a strong and steady husband by her side. This kind of ballad performance is what made this lady a star. Heart tugging, to say the least.
DAVID WOOD/Ride The Wild West
Writer: Lore Orion/Robert E. Byrd; Producer: Ronnie Guilbeau, David Wood & Billy Graham; Publisher: Shy Ann/Finest, BMI; Dew Note (track) (
—Monotonic. I’ve heard more complicated nursery rhymes.
Writer: Dave Barnes; Producer: Scott Hendricks; Publisher: No Gang/Razor & Tie, ASCAP; Warner Bros.
—I worshipped writer Dave Barnes’s version of this when I reviewed it last year. Blake sure knows a dynamite song when he hears it, too. Producer Hendricks surrounds his emotional reading with chiming guitars, sighing steel and thumping percussion. A shining, glittering gem of a disc.
Writer: Lindi Ortega; Producer: Ron Lopata; Publisher: ShadowBox, SOCAN; Last Gang (Canada)(track) (
—Enchanting. She has one of those sweet/tart vocal instruments that manages to sound both fragile and tough within the same song. This starts out softly, but builds into a smart shuffle with terrific, suppressed, undertow energy. This gal is definitely worth your attention.
ASHTON SHEPHERD/Where Country Grows
Writer: Ashton Shepherd/Bobby Pinson; Producer: Buddy Cannon; Publisher: EMI BlackwoodGin Road/Music of Stage Three/Bobby’s Song and Salvage/BMG, BMI; MCA Nashville (track)
—The title tune to Ashton’s sophomore CD is a soaring statement of purpose. Her voice on this is a resonant, ringing, victory bell of authenticity. I am hopelessly in love with this artist.
DANE ESTOK/Semiautomatic Kind Of Love
Writer: Dane Estok; Producer: The Zods; Publisher: Sounds from Space, ASCAP; DaneEstok (track) (
—This Nashvillian is described as “pop-country.” I’d say he leans strongly toward the “pop” end of that spectrum. Whatever the genre, this twirling and utterly engaging wisp of romance was featured on TV’s Keeping Up the Kardashians soundtrack. Somebody at the E! network definitely has ears.
RONNIE MILSAP/If You Don’t Want Me To
Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Bigger Picture (track)
—This bouncy ditty evidently accompanies a dance called The Freeze. The retro, repetitive ‘80s keyboard riff is bound to jog a few memories and tap a few toes, at any rate. Jaunty and smiley, despite the somewhat downbeat lyric.
Writer: C. Beathard/T. Shapiro; Producer: Bob Ezrin & Jimmie Lee Sloas; Publisher: Sony-ATV Acuff-Rose/EMI Blackwood/Piano Wire, BMI; Bigger Picture (track) (
—This Leverage TNT-TV star sings well, with admirable expressiveness and personality. So this sounds best when he’s allowed to shine through with a minimum of production adornment. Unfortunately, during many passages, the producers just can’t leave well enough alone. Still, it’s a highly melodic improvement over his overly rocked-up debut single.
Writer: Dan Simonis; Producer: Greg Schumacher; Publisher: Croaking Toad, BMI; 45 Caliber (track) (
—File this under “arty troubadour,” if there is such a category. Actually, make that “pitch-y, arty troubadour.”

Country Anthems Can Be Authentic

Jason Aldean's songs offer a realistic snapshot of small-town life and backwoods parties.

Like The Tennessean’s Peter Cooper, I grow weary of all the dirt-road redneck songs bombarding radio airwaves. These “I’m-so-country” anthems are hardly the most original songs Nashville’s talented tunesmiths are capable of writing. In fact, plenty of these tracks are downright trite. But it doesn’t mean that the songwriters who pen them, and the artists who deliver them, haven’t lived those experiences.
Talented music writer Cooper is usually spot-on with his analysis, but I have to offer an alternative viewpoint to his latest column. Just like him, I spent summer evenings pulled into a stall at Sonic, but I also spent plenty of nights driving back country roads and partying in an open field.
Most of the usual party spots could only be reached by four-wheel drive. There was the field outside the city limits where songwriter Channing Wilson held court with his guitar. There was the stop on Rocky Lane in the Pigeon Mountain state park where we’d congregate at the “first pull off on the left.” And there was property in rural Harrisburg, 30 minutes outside of town, where cars were abandoned on the highway so their drivers could hop into the back of pick-ups for a bumpy trek to an old cabin for a night of keg beer, and blaring country music sing-alongs. Just like a muddy cliche, we slept in tents and truck-beds.
In my hometown LaFayette, Georgia (pop. 7000), these were the Saturday night options. The nearest movie theater was a half-hour away, and the closest decent restaurant was almost an hour’s drive.
Daytime entertainment was found “muddin’” in Jeep Wranglers after a heavy Saturday rain, and fishin’ with our dads after church on Sunday. Even though I don’t know much about cane poles, and I’d never heard of channel cat until Easton Corbin came along, this was our reality, and it was a good one, even if it involved mud tires and camouflage.
Just like many artists, songwriters and others on Music Row who grew up in small towns, I’ve had a good amount of redneck training. For some, it is a source of pride. Others, like myself, get bored with the backwoods cliches. Either way, when songwriters like the aforementioned Wilson—who recently inked with EMI Music Publishing—sit in a cozy room on 16th Ave. and write a song, often it is based on real-life experiences. And when an artist makes it a hit, sometimes it is coming from an authentic place.

Toast A Little Good Sales News

A music marketing exec. walks into a bar and says to the bartender, “Hey give me a drink, album sales are up 1% YTD this year.” Bartender who reads MusicRow says, “Sounds like you’ve already had enough to drink!”
Because although a trickle of good news is better than none, there really aren’t enough tidings yet to celebrate. All genre album sales have fallen about 34% during the six years from 2004 through 2010. For country music they have fallen 44% during the same period. Those are pretty steep declines. Figure in a paltry 1% YTD all-genre gain and about a 2% loss for country and yeah, you’d have to be drunk to cheer with enthusiasm.
The consumer press is embracing Nielsen SoundScan’s proclamation, “Album sales are up for the first time since 2004.” But the reality is this little kernel of truth is dwarfed by the enormity of the marketplace consolidation that has taken place. Also since 2004, album prices are lower, costs are higher and margins slimmer. But there is more upbeat news as well.
Here’s a few SoundScan Factoids
>>Digital album sales are up 19% through the first six months over 2010 and are on pace to set a new sales record at the end of the year.
>>E.T. by Katy Perry tops the chart for best selling digital song for the first six months of 2011 with 4.1 million downloads
>>Lady Gaga’s Born This Way experienced the biggest 1st week album sales of 2011 with 1,108,000 units.  The album sold a record 662,000 digital albums in the first week of release.
>>July 3, 2011 – Eminem’s Recovery becomes the first digital album to sell more than one million units; Adele’s 21 is on track to surpass a million units next week.
Looking at the various compiled Top 10 lists, Adele tops most of them. Nashville artists are included on the following…
Top Selling Albums: No. 4, Jason Aldean, My Kinda Party
Top Selling Physical Albums: No. 3, Jason Aldean, My Kinda Party; No. 9, Taylor Swift, Speak Now
Top Selling Catalog Albums: No. 2, Miranda Lambert, Revolution; No. 10, Johnny Cash, VH1 Story Tellers
Top Selling Digital Catalog Albums: No. 8, Miranda Lambert, Revolution

Press Buzzes Over Mr. Honey Bee

Who is the most interesting man in country music?
Given the quantity of insatiable egos up and down the streets of Music Row no doubt many of our readers just jumped up and yelled, “Me.” But, you would all be wrong, because we now know officially—it’s been reported in the New York Times— the most interesting man is Blake Shelton, whose new album Red River Blue launches July 12.
Nashville’s Warner Music Group has worked long and hard developing this 6’ 5” Okie and it’s clear they aren’t slowing down just cause they are approaching the superstar goalposts. The “push comes to shove” dedication began paying dividends last year with the controversial release of two mini-album six paks. Industry observers proclaimed Warner was “losing money” on the deal and “devaluing” music. But WMG held firm while unleashing a media storm of press coverage. Shelton landed a co-hosting gig for the ACM Awards and his label wisely leveraged that opportunity into an album-style [hugely successful] launchpad for the first single from the new album, “Honey Bee.” But really that’s just the tip of the story here.
“Mr. Shelton is a strong singer,” writes Jon Caramanica in the New York Times this week. “But technical skill isn’t his selling point. It’s charm, through and through. It’s evident on his albums, in his TV appearances and whenever he forgoes the stoic reserve that appears to chronically afflict male country stars. A mouth given to profanity and a Twitter account full of blue humor help too.”
Shelton’s NYT profile also dwells on his recent marriage to another high profile country music star and his role as judge on hit TV talent show The Voice.

“BLAKE SHELTON has been getting choked up a lot lately,” Caramanica continues. “First came his May wedding to fellow country star Miranda Lambert, his girlfriend of several years. And then came the subsequent weeks when he barely got to see her at all. For the most part he was in Los Angeles working endless hours on the first season of The Voice, the hit NBC singing competition on which he’s one of four celebrity coaches. On off days he was flying out to do concerts…. Mr. Shelton, … over the last two months has emerged as the spiritual conscience of The Voice—an earnest and warm coach with a naughty streak. That the breakout star of the show wouldn’t be one of the contestants but instead one of the coaches, and the country one at that, was an unanticipated outcome. But Mr. Shelton, 35, has been primed for such a mainstream star-making opportunity for years now. He’s one of the most affable celebrities in Nashville and one of the most unpredictable, cheekier than all his male counterparts put together. Handsome and 6-foot-5, he’s one of the highest-profile country stars to appear regularly in prime time since the days Buck Owens hosted “Hee Haw.” Apart from perhaps Taylor Swift, he’s becoming the most important and visible ambassador from Nashville to the American mainstream.”

Now there is a new fact-filled (read: wildly exaggerated) video which details the rise of Blake Shelton, the Most Interesting Man in Country Music. The video notes for example, that Shelton has been the protagonist and hero in over 300 best selling novels; that the name “blake shelton” in binary form opens the vaults of 83% of the world’s top banks; and lastly, “Carrie Underwood’s legs notice Blake Shelton.”
How does Mr. Honey Bee respond to these video accolades? He’s uncharacteristically speechless, but offers a piercing look that says it all….
Press Facts: Shelton is the reigning CMA Male Vocalist of the Year; “Honey Bee” is his 4th consecutive No. 1 single and has sold over one million digital downloads; Won CMT Video Awards for Male Video and Best Web Video… Named MusicRow New Artist Critic’s Pick 2002.