Billy Currington Gets Ready to Go Coastal
About 15 years ago, before he got his big break, Billy Currington was doing back-breaking work, helping build Nashville's Bridgestone Arena. This week, the now country star embarks on Kenny Chesney's Goin' Coastal tour, which will not only take him to large arenas but also amphitheaters and stadiums. The 40-plus-city tour kicks off tonight (March 17) in West Palm Beach, Fla.
"I don't feel nervous at the moment," Billy told The Boot just prior to one of his final rehearsals for the tour. "I've been in a similar environment like the stadiums before, but I know when we do the stadium dates, I need to reach all these people musically and connect with them. I know it's a tough thing to do. I guess my only nervousness would be having to do that and how much I want to do it. I just have to learn how to. It's all new to me."
Billy sought advice for the stadium dates, and found the one thing he needs to do is play songs the audience knows. That won't be a problem for the Georgia native, who is currently making his way to the top of the charts with 'Let Me Down Easy.' He can easily complement that tune with several of his past hits including 'Must Be Doin' Something Right,' 'People Are Crazy,' 'Good Directions' and 'Don't.'
"In the stadium, where the audience is so far back, you might lose them if you're playing new stuff. If they hear something they know, even if it sounds like AM radio to them, they'll sing along."
Once the tour starts, the singer won't have much time to get ready for that first stadium crowd. The trek will make its way to the first stadium date on March 19 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Fla. The Zac Brown Band joins the tour for those larger-capacity shows.
Billy's previous tour with Carrie Underwood prompted the superstar to comment that his "talent and charm" have made crowds fall in love with him. The singer, while clearly flattered by Carrie's remark, acknowledges that there is "so much more involved in a show, like hard work, staying in shape, being sweet to people throughout your day even when you're not onstage."
Billy adds that the Carrie tour was an ideal learning experience. "It was very simple, very quiet, and I learned one person's way of doing a tour in front of that many people. The simplicity of it was very cool to see. I've seen other ways of doing it, where backstage it was crazy and there was a lot going on. With her, there was never anything ever going on. With Kenny I think there will be so much going on."
And this time around, Billy will have an extra 10 minutes in front of his audience. "I could only do seven songs with Carrie, but we've added three more with Kenny," he explains. "We'll mostly do songs we had on the radio and we might add a couple of tunes from the new album.
"When I did a show with Kenny last year, we did a song together at the end of the night. I know he does that with a lot of his acts, so hopefully we'll end up doing something like that on this tour."
Fans who experience the Goin' Coastal tour will find that Billy's show is full of fun-loving, uptempo songs. The singer says his days working clubs in Nashville and Georgia taught him a lot about what an audience enjoys, which he also keeps in mind while in the studio.
"When I was recording this past album I had two sad songs I was ready to record, but when I played the other songs with the sad songs, it didn't feel right. It was like the air got let out or something. But when I took them out and put happy ones in those slots, I didn't feel any negative energy; it was all positive. That's what I think the audience will feel."
Billy will have a stage set up with panels behind him where the display will range from graphic images to pictures of pick-up trucks, deer, hot rods and other illustrations that go along with his songs. The band is rocking and ready to hit the stage, and Billy is more sure of himself than ever. In fact, he says people are complimenting him on the fact that he seems more confident these days.
"It's flattering to hear that, and definitely you want to be looked at as someone who is confident," Billy says. "I always was and I tried to learn as I worked at my career. Now I've got the right people around me and that gives me confidence and trust. Plus the recent radio success has helped, because any time you have success it gives you more confidence. I think it's also confidence with age, because the more things you do, the better you get."
One constant on the road for Billy is his dog Paco, a three-year-old chocolate lab who has traveled with him since he adopted the pup at six weeks old.
"The only time he doesn't go with me is if I fly," Billy says. "He's a good dog, with good energy, and it's good for us that he's on the road. He is a great companion and everybody in the band loves having him along with us."
Uncle Kracker will also join Kenny on the Goin' Coast tour, which will travel to nearly 60 venues by the time it wraps up October 27 with two shows at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass. More than 600,000 tickets have already been sold for the tour. Foxboro, always a huge show for Kenny, and Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa. are two stadium dates which have already sold out.