Of all the country music superstars who have found their way to the shores of South Jersey, perhaps none are a more appropriate fit than Kenny Chesney. Although he was born and raised in Tennessee, Chesney is a tried-and-true beach bum and has managed to morph his particular brand of country music into a sort of laid-back, beach-themed hybrid, taking cues from the master of this musical genre, Jimmy Buffett. Chesney’s fans — which he refers to as “Flip-Flop Nation” — are as passionate as any Parrotheads and are sure to be out en mass when he hits the stage at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 11, at Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City as part of his Songs for the Saints tour. For those of you who may not be as knowledgeable on the subject of Mr. Chesney, here are a few fun facts.
1) Chesney can be cheesy once in a while. While Chesney has always made a point to stay in tip-top physical shape, he does allow himself one day of indulgence per week. On Sundays he can be found snacking on a few less-than-healthy items. His favorite of which is a grilled cheese sandwich with extra salt. Chesney even wrote a song about the classic American sandwich titled “Red Wine and Grilled Cheese.” Haven’t heard of it? There’s a reason for it. It’s not out. “I’ll put it on a record someday,” Chesney told People magazine in 2010.
2) He hitched his wagon to a star … briefly. In January 2005 Chesney met actress Renee Zellweger at a tsunami-relief event. The two hit it off and by May the couple was married on the island of St. John. But sadly their whirlwind love affair ended as quickly as it started. By September they announced plans to have their marriage annulled. Chesney later admitted that he had misjudged what married life would be like.
3) He didn’t break a leg on stage; he broke a foot. On the first night of his Poets and Pirates tour in 2008, Chesney’s boot got caught between a hydraulic lift and the edge of the stage. The incident happened during the introduction portion of the show and though he was in pain, he chose to continue performing. After the show, doctors determined that he had crushed several bones in his foot. Ever the trooper, Chesney opted to not cancel any shows and continue with the tour.
4) He and Tim McGraw were once literal partners in crime. In a bizarre incident that sounds more like the plot of a rejected “Dukes of Hazzard” script than a real occurrence, Chesney and fellow country star Tim McGraw were both arrested after an incident in June 2000 in which Chesney attempted to climb onto a police horse and ride it. Following his performance at the George Straight Country Music Festival in New York, Chesney mounted a police horse in an ill-fated attempt to get a few laughs. Officers on the scene believed that the horse was being stolen and attempted to forcibly remove him and place him under arrest. When McGraw attempted to intervene on behalf of Chesney, both of them found themselves in handcuffs.
5) He may be from Tennessee, but he has lots of love for New Jersey. Country music is certainly most popular in rural and middle America, but fans of Chesney are dedicated no matter where you go, including New Jersey. In fact, Chesney himself seems to have a serious soft spot for the Garden State, thanks to a particularly special show in Wildwood in 2012. In a 2014 interview with ABC Radio News, when asked what the most surprising show of his career was, he replied, “The Wildwood, New Jersey, show a couple years ago was the most — surprised me a lot. The connection we had with that audience was unbelievable ... I loved playing out there that night.”
CMA winner to open for Chesney
Supporting Kenny Chesney at Hard Rock on Saturday will be David Lee Murphy. Murphy has had much success in the world of country music as well and his recent single “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” — a collaboration with Chesney — earned him a CMA award in 2018.
Murphy has been one of the more in-demand songwriters in country over the better part of the last quarter-century, penning tunes for such renowned artists as Brooks & Dunn, Jake Owen, Blake Shelton, Montgomery Gentry, Luke Bryan, Hank Williams Jr., Thomas Rhett, Florida Georgia Line, Keith Urban, Gary Allan, Brad Paisley, Justin Moore among others.