I remember the exact moment that my life changed forever (don’t you roll your eyes at me… I saw that). It was the first time I ever heard country music.
I was 11 years old sitting at my cousin’s house when he played When The Sun Goes Down by Kenny Chesney. I know it’s sort of a strange song for 5th grader to be jamming out to, but once it started I was totally hooked. Hooked on country, and hooked on Kenny. From the time I first heard that song, my family bought every single Kenny Chesney CD that was released. Yes, will still have all of them.
Flash forward to Summer 2018. One of my other cousins sent out a mass text saying he was trying to get the fam together for Country Fest at Gillette Stadium! It took me less than 5 minutes to drop what I was doing, go online, and buy the tickets. It had been 5 years since we went to Country Fest to see Kenny and I was NOT missing yet another year. It was a total domino effect. Everyone jumped onboard and before we knew it, almost our entire family had bought tickets for August 25th.
We all piled into cars and headed to Boston for the weekend where we started festivities on Friday night. My cousin worked his tail off cooking and organizing for the tailgate, and let me tell you…. he KILLED it. The tailgate is an event in itself, and we easily had the best one in the lot. We got to the lot around 1pm and drank (margaritas made from a weed whacker converted into a blender), cooked out, and played cornhole until after 5pm.
Then it was concert time. There is this unbelievable energy that surrounds Country Fest. Everyone is there for the exact same reason… for a good freaking time. And we are never disappointed.
But I want to talk about more than just the music and drinking that goes on during Country Fest.
I have always had a strong connection with music, particularly Kenny Chesney’s music. He seems to always know exactly what I need to hear. And having been listening to his music for 14 years, when he takes the stage, I feel like I’m watching an old friend perform.
The Gillette show is always the last of the No Shoes Nation tour, but there was something so special about this night. Kenny came on stage, and you could just see the love pouring out of him into the crowd. And he said something that hit me right in the heart:
“Sports, music, and tradition bring people together.”
When he said it I looked around the stadium and took a second to take in the 60,000 people who were all there because of their love for country music. 60,000 strangers. From all different places, backgrounds, jobs, families, whatever. But who were all sharing this special night.
He spoke about living every moment to it’s fullest, and breathing life into every day. Not just letting it slip by. He spoke the same way he sings his songs: gracefully and humbly.
Part of what made the night so incredible is that Kenny sold his one-millionth ticket just at Gillette Stadium. ONE MILLION TICKETS. Just at Gillette! Kenny was talking about his bond with his Boston, the Patriots family, and his fans, and was so emotional and so grateful for all this love that he has been shown.
Kenny brought a few different performers onto the stage, and his respect and appreciation for their talent and willingness to perform with him was unmatched. This is a perfect example of why I love country music so much: the musicians support, respect, and appreciate each other as artists and as people. The collaborations that go on the in the country music world just amazes me. In such a competitive industry, these musicians are working together instead of against each other. It’s absolutely incredible.
I think about my family, and how now that everyone has grown up we don’t see each other nearly as much. But No Shoes Nation lit that spark, and sent us all into overdrive to make a huge effort to spend the entire weekend together. Watching the Patriots at home Friday night, tailgating all Saturday afternoon, and singing at the top of our lungs all night long.
I know I’m not doing this weekend justice by any means, but the concert was MAGIC. To feel that undying love coming from Kenny Chesney and his crew is like nothing I have ever experienced. And what absolutely blew me away was that even after selling a million tickets, touring for over 18 years, and having millions of fans, Kenny Chesney does not take a single day for granted. And you can see that clear as day when he is on stage.