“The first time I put a pair of those in, they were moulded to my ear,” she recalls. “Once I got used to that feeling of having everything just right there and at a lower volume, they’re awesome! I’m singing and playing bass, and there are seven of us on stage, so there’s a lot going on in the mix and it sounds perfect from ear to ear. There’s an art to that.Despite all her experience, Harmoni still feels she almost needs to pinch herself when she sees the size of the stadiums she is now accustomed to playing in:
What does a touring musician do when all gigs are cancelled? Bassist and vocalist Harmoni Kelley reveals how she’s keeping occupied this year, and why she wouldn’t be without JH Audio and Fender on stage.
“It’s funny to call him my boss, because he’s a friend at this point. I’m sure it’s kind of driving him crazy to not be touring right now, because he loves it so much and he feeds so much off of that energy. I know it’s killing him to not actually be able to play and be out there on stage, because he’s so good at it. You don’t know how much you miss it until it’s taken away,” she sighs. “You really realise how big of a thing it is in your life.”During her time as a young musician in Austin, Harmoni worked her way up through the ranks and spent time both in the studio and on the road with local legends Fastball, James McMurtry, Slaid Cleaves and Bob Schneider to name a few. Those years proved to be the most important in starting Harmoni down the path of honing in on her craft as a bass player and vocalist. She cut her teeth with bands of all musical genres from rock, pop, blues, funk, bluegrass, country and americana – which has allowed her to easily switch genres for her touring work. For in-ear monitors, Harmoni likes the JH Audio Siren Series Roxanne customs, which she says lured her in with “the widest frequency range you’ll ever hear,” then seducing her with the first variable bass control IEM cable. Interestingly, before working with Chesney, Harmoni had never used in-ears before: “I don’t do well sitting still,” she says warmly. “A lot of us want to be doing something. We can’t tour and we’re not going to be rehearsing, so I’ve got to do something – I can’t just sit here! So I’m trying to still be creative and learn new things. If I can come out of the other end of this having learned two or three new things, or learned a new skill, then that’s a win for me. That’s a great silver lining to the weirdness of this whole pandemic.””At that moment, no one really felt that creative. We have all this time in the world – we’re sitting at home in our studios surrounded by basses and amps – and nobody’s really creating. I think that’s probably shifted, but at that time when it was all new and we were all trying to wrap our heads around what this meant, no one was really feeling that creative. Now, a lot of people are doing YouTube videos from home, some gear demo stuff and live stream gigs. We’re keeping that creative spark alive.”
“I have this group of bass players on a text thread – most of them live out in L.A,” she answers brightly. “They’re more in the pop and rock touring world and play with Pink and Gwen Stefani, so I’m kind of the lone country bass player in Austin. We decided to do these weekly Zoom calls to check in. We did one a few months ago and we were talking about when you’re on tour and are super busy, the one thing that you probably wish you had the most is time to just sit, be creative and do your own thing. And now we’re all forced into this new world where we have nothing but time.
“When I was in my 20s I was just getting going, so I said yes to all these different gigs. I didn’t think, ‘I don’t want to do that because it’s country,’ or ‘I don’t want to do that gig because it’s blues,’ – I was just hungry to play. So the style of music was sort of an afterthought – I was so happy to be on stage and to be playing. There have been times when I’ve thought, ‘I’m not really comfortable playing this Latin funk style, but I’m here and I’m in the gig, and I’m going to do it and I’m going to figure it out’. So that was really great for me, and I feel that could be beneficial for any player.””And I’m self taught: I just sat down in front of the record player or the CD player and started to play along. I never went to music school and I think I took one lesson from another bass player friend of mine here in Austin when I needed to learn how to play slap bass on a particular song. It just evolved from there,” she says modestly.Harmoni auditioned for Chesney in 2014, and has been touring with him steadily ever since. Since all touring has been cancelled, she has turned her attention to recording at home and has been tentatively dipping her toes into the world of music production. Chesney the rest of his band have kept in contact throughout the year – in fact her boss messaged the group a few days ago, remarking on where they should have been playing that night:
“I asked for a bass and an amp for Christmas when I was 17 and my parents maybe thought it was crazy,” she chuckles. “They said, ‘well that’s all we’re getting you, and even that is going to be tricky’. I remember going to the music store here in Austin with my dad, which sadly doesn’t exist anymore. We picked out a bass and an amp, and it stuck with me. I actually recently bought a Gretsch Catalina drum kit – I’m a rhythm section gal, for sure.
“I don’t know what I expected when I started playing bass!” she admits. “That’s everybody’s dream as a musician – to be playing big stages. I think that my first show with Kenny Chesney was at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. It’s crazy! You can be playing to 60,000 people. Until you’re up there doing it, you really don’t know what that feels like – the power of that many people that are so excited, and all the energy is going from them directly to you. It’s an overwhelming experience and it definitely took my breath away the first time that I was on stage, because you can’t prepare for that. It’s been a wild ride!”
“There are different parts of the show where we’re all out there on this catwalk in the middle of the crowd, so without in-ears it would just be this cacophony of sound and this terrible soup of noise! If you ever take your in-ears out in the middle of a stadium out there, it feels like you’re just alone in the middle of an ocean because you can’t hear anything. I can’t imagine doing any of those shows without my in-ears, and those Roxanne’s are awesome.”
Harmoni Kelley should be on tour with Kenny Chesney as the moment. Instead, she’s sipping a coffee in her pajamas for a morning catch up with Headliner from her hometown in Austin. Usually splitting her time between Texas and Nashville (interspersed with numerous tour busses or planes), the usually nationally-touring bassist and vocalist is trying to keep busy.With Neil Thrasher and Wendell Mobley, Chesney also co-wrote Rascal Flatts’ 2007 single Take Me There”, which served as the lead-off single to their album Still Feels Good.
On September 11, 2007, Chesney released the album Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates. This album represented a move to a more gulf and western sound with a number of “breezy, steel-drum island songs”. Kanye West and 50 Cent’s albums Graduation and Curtis were both released that same day. Those artists were in the midst of a competitive sales war, with the latter claiming that he would end his solo rap career if West sold more albums than he did (remarks he later retracted as terms of his contract conflicted with the promise). Chesney, however, decided that he would give country music a place in the competition, claiming country artists were just as popular as those in the rap genre. Chesney came in third place in record s
ales among the three musical artists.
After graduation from East Tennessee State in 1990, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he performed at several local clubs, including The Bluebird Cafe. He became the resident performer at The Turf, a honky tonk bar in the city’s historic district.Chesney, along with Tim McGraw, contributed to a version of Tracy Lawrence’s single “Find Out Who Your Friends Are”, which can be found on his album For the Love. The official single version, only featuring Lawrence’s vocals, was released in August 2006 but did not reach the Top 40 on the country charts until January 2007, when ‘the album was released. After the album’s release, the version with him, Chesney, and McGraw began receiving significant airplay, helping to boost the single to No. 1 on the country charts. The song became Lawrence’s first No. 1 single in 11 years, as well as the second-slowest climbing No. 1 single in the history of the Billboard music charts.
In 2003, Chesney recorded All I Want for Christmas Is a Real Good Tan. The album’s title track peaked at No. 30 on the country charts from holiday airplay. Other notable work Chesney did in 2003 is that he co wrote Kid Rock’s single “Cold and Empty” from his self-titled 6th studio album Kid Rock.
On May 9, 2005, Chesney married actress Renée Zellweger in a ceremony on the island of St. John. They had met in January at a tsunami relief event. On September 15 of that same year, after only four months of marriage, they announced their plans for an annulment. Zellweger cited fraud as the reason in the related papers, and after media scrutiny of her use of the word “fraud,” she qualified the use of the term, stating that it was “simply legal language and not a reflection of Kenny’s character.” Chesney later suggested the failure of his marriage was due to “the fact that I panicked.” In an interview by 60 Minutes with Anderson Cooper, Chesney commented on the failed marriage, “The only fraud that was committed was me thinking that I knew what it was like… that I really understood what it was like to be married, and I really didn’t.” The annulment was finalized in late December 2005.
Chesney’s 2009 tour was titled the Sun City Carnival Tour and featured both small and large venues in order to keep his ticket prices down. The tour included a performance at Gillette Stadium again, marking the fifth year in a row that he played at the Foxboro, Massachusetts football field.The second single from Hemingway’s Whiskey, “Somewhere with You”, was released in November 2010. The song debuted at No. 35 on the country chart for the week of November 6, 2010. Both it and its followup, “Live a Little”, went to number 1 on the country charts. The next single was “You and Tequila”, co-written and originally recorded by Deana Carter. Chesney’s rendition, which featured Grace Potter on backing vocals, went to number 3. After it, “Reality” also went to number 1. On May 19, 2008, just a day after being honored as the ACM Entertainer of the Year at the 43rd Annual Academy of Country Music Awards, Chesney criticized the lack of choice in the producers’ awarding the honor based on fan votes. “The entertainer of the year trophy is supposed to represent heart and passion and an amazing amount of sacrifice, commitment and focus”, he said. “That’s the way Garth [Brooks] won it four times, that’s the way I won it, that’s the way [George] Strait won it, Reba [McEntire], Alabama all those years. That’s what it’s supposed to represent.” Chesney did not acknowledge the injury during the early part of his performance. However, he was visibly limping and seemed to rest near a drum riser while leaning over and holding his knee during the instrumental breaks of his songs. As he came offstage, a doctor from the University of South Carolina cut off Chesney’s cowboy boot and immediately began treating the foot injury. X-rays that were taken afterwards revealed several crushed bones in his right foot.
I Will Stand, Chesney’s fourth album and his third from BNA Records, followed in 1997. The album’s first single, “She’s Got It All”, became Chesney’s first number one hit on the Billboard country charts and spent three weeks at that position. The album’s second single, “A Chance”, peaked just shy of the Top 10. The third single, “That’s Why I’m Here”, peaked at number 2 in 1998.
By 2000, Chesney released his Greatest Hits compilation album. It included four new tracks, as well as updated versions of “Fall in Love”, “The Tin Man”, and “Back Where I Come From”. The new version of “The Tin Man” was one of the disc’s three singles, along with two of the new tracks, “I Lost It” and “Don’t Happen Twice”. In 2001 he performed with Kid Rock at a Waylon Jennings tribute concert covering Waylon’s song Luckenbach Texas.Live: Live Those Songs Again, Chesney’s first live album was released on September 19, 2006, via BNA Records. This album includes live renditions of 15 songs, 11 of which were singles. “Live Those Songs”, “Never Gonna Feel Like That Again”, “On the Coast of Somewhere Beautiful”, and “Back Where I Come From” were never released by Chesney as singles, although “Back Where I Come From” was released as a single from Mac McAnally’s 1990 album Simple Life.
In spring 2005, Chesney was honored with the prestigious Triple-Crown Award presented by the Academy of Country Music. This award was presented after Chesney’s 2004 Academy of Country Music’s Entertainer of the Year award was combined with 1997’s New Male Vocalist of the Year award and 2003’s Top Male Vocalist of the Year award. The following year, on May 23, 2006, Chesney was honored with his second Entertainer of the Year at the Academy of Country Music Awards.
Chesney started his Poets and Pirates Tour on April 26, 2008, at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina. During the introduction of his set, his boot got caught between a hydraulic lift and the lip of the stage surface, which crushed his foot causing a severe hematoma in the ankle; most of the damage was centering within his toes. It took about 30 seconds for Chesney to pry his foot loose as he squatted down on the stage while the band continued to play an extended introduction of the song. When Chesney finally freed himself, he stood up and held his hand on his knee as he began singing.Chesney’s debut album, In My Wildest Dreams, was released on the independent Capricorn Records label in April 1994. The album’s first two singles, “Whatever It Takes” and “The Tin Man”, both reached the lower regions of the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart. The album sold approximately 10,000 copies before Capricorn Records closed its country music division in Nashville later that year and moved to Atlanta. Chesney’s third studio album and his second major-label one, entitled Me and You, was released in 1996. Its first single, “Back In My Arms Again”, peaked just outside the Top 40 on the country charts, while its title track (which Chesney had recorded on his previous album) and “When I Close My Eyes” (which was previously recorded by Keith Palmer on his 1991 debut album and then by Larry Stewart on his 1993 debut album Down the Road) both peaked at number 2. Me and You was Chesney’s first album to be certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). A cover of Mac McAnally’s 1990 single “Back Where I Come From” was also included on this album. Even though Chesney’s version was never released as a single, it has been regularly performed during his concerts. In recognition of his successful year, Chesney was honored with the 1997 Academy of Country Music’s New Male Vocalist of the Year award. In 1992, the head of writer relations at BMI, Clay Bradley, recommended Chesney to his friend, Troy Tomlinson, at Opryland Music Group by saying: “I met this kid today from East Tennessee. He’s a good singer, a good songwriter, and more than anything, I think you’re going to really like him as a person.” Chesney performed five songs during his audition for Tomlinson. Tomlinson’s reaction was enthusiastic, later telling HitQuarters:
2004 saw the release of the album When the Sun Goes Down. Its lead-off single, “There Goes My Life”, spent seven weeks at number one on the Billboard country charts. On April 21, 2004, the accompanying music video for that song was honored by CMT with the Male Video of the Year award. The album’s title track, a duet with Uncle Kracker, also went to number one. The music video for the album’s third single, “I Go Back”, was honored on April 11, 2005, with Country Music Television’s Male Video of the Year Award. This song, along with the album’s fourth single, “The Woman with You”, both peaked at number two. The fifth single, “Anything But Mine”, reached number one, and the final single, “Keg in the Closet”, peaked to number six.Chesney produced and narrated a biographical film, The Color Orange, on his favorite football player growing up, University of Tennessee quarterback and Canadian Football League hall-of-fame Condredge Holloway. The film was produced for ESPN’s “Year of the Quarterback” series, and premiered on February 20, 2011.
First of all I was attracted to the songs, because I thought that he painted great pictures in his lyrics, particularly for someone who had not been around the typical Music Row co-writes. I thought that he sang very well too. But more than anything there was a kind of this ‘I-will-do-it’ look in his eyes – I was really drawn in by the fact that he was so set on being successful in this business.
In May 2009, Chesney released his second compilation album, Greatest Hits II. This album included the No. 1 hit, “Out Last Night”, as the lead single. On February 9, 2010, this album was re-released with two new tracks “This Is Our Moment” and “Ain’t Back Yet”, with the latter becoming the album’s third single in February 2010. Also included on this album is one that Willie Nelson recorded before Chesney did, “I’m Alive”. Chesney himself later recorded a version of the song as a duet with Dave Matthews. This version was released in August 2009 as the album’s second single.
Chesney also recorded a duet with Reba McEntire on her No. 1 2007 album Reba: Duets. “Every Other Weekend” peaked at No. 15 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and No. 104 on the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart. The album has sold 2.1 million copies world-wide and is certified Platinum by the RIAA for sales of over 1 million. “Every Other Weekend” was the final single from the album.
Chesney collaborated with one of his personal heroes, Jimmy Buffett, on a remake of Hank Williams’ single “Hey Good Lookin’ (with Clint Black, Alan Jackson, Toby Keith, and George Strait), and a second song “License To Chill”. Both songs are on Buffett’s 2004 album License To Chill.
Chesney studied advertising at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, where he was a member of the ETSU Bluegrass Program and the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity and graduated in 1990. In 1989, he recorded a self-released demo album at the Classic Recording Studio in Bristol, Virginia. He sold 1,000 copies while performing at the local clubs in Johnson City and used the money from album sales to help himself buy a new guitar.BNA Records closed in June 2012. As a result, Chesney was transferred to Columbia Nashville. His first release under Columbia was the album’s second single, “Come Over”, which went to number 1. The album’s third and final single was “El Cerrito Place”, which was written by Keith Gattis and originally recorded by Charlie Robison. Chesney’s rendition, which featured Grace Potter on backing vocals, went to number 10 on the country charts.Chesney then signed with BNA Records, and released his second studio album All I Need to Know in 1995. The album produced three singles. “Fall in Love” and the title track both reached the Top 10, while “Grandpa Told Me So” peaked at number 23. That same year, Chesney co-wrote Confederate Railroad’s single “When He Was My Age” from their album When and Where. Chesney utilized fiddle and steel instrumentation within this album in order to highlight the down-home sentiments and the unique Tennessee twang in his voice. This album seemed to capture the traditional spirit that made country music popular.
In June 2014, Chesney released the new song “American Kids” to radio. This song served as the lead-off single from his sixteenth studio album The Big Revival, which was released on September 23, 2014. The album’s second single, “Til It’s Gone”, was released in mid-October. It reached number one on the Country Airplay chart the week of January 31, 2015. The third single “Wild Child”, which is a duet with Grace Potter, was released two days later. It reached number one on the Country Airplay chart the week of June 27, 2015. The album’s fourth single, “Save It for a Rainy Day”, was released to country radio on June 29, 2015. It reached number one on the Country Airplay chart the week of October 9, 2015.
In January 2018, it was announced that Chesney had ended his contract with Sony Music Nashville and signed to Warner Bros. Records Nashville. Chesney released his first album with Warner, entitled Songs for the Saints, on July 27, 2018.
That injury did not have him cancel any shows, as saying “[the doctor] told me it’s going to hurt – though nothing could hurt worse than Saturday, I don’t think – and they can give me something to deaden the pain when I get out there. I also have to have a doctor standing by should something give, but I’m going to tape it up, and I’m going to get out there”.
The lead-off single from Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates was “Never Wanted Nothing More”. That song became Chesney’s twelfth number one hit on the Billboard country charts. On the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart dated for the week ending on September 15, 2007, the album’s second single “Don’t Blink” debuted at No. 16, setting a new record for the highest debut on that chart since the inception of SoundScan electronic tabulation in 1990. This record was broken one week later by Garth Brooks’ “More Than a Memory”, which debuted at No. 1 on the same chart, making it the first song ever to do so. The third single, “Shiftwork” (a duet with George Strait) peaked at No. 2 on the country charts. During the week of June 28, 2008, the fourth and final single, “Better as a Memory”, became Chesney’s fourteenth number one hit.
On August 25, 2012, at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, Kenny Chesney announced to his fans that he would call his fan following No Shoes Nation. The term No Shoes Nation originated from Chesney’s hit song “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem”. The symbol of No Shoes Nation is a black flag with a white skull and crossbones. The name was accompanied by a live album called Live in No Shoes Nation, which topped the Billboard 200 after its release in late 2017. No Shoes Nation inspired the name of Chesney’s Sirius XM channel, No Shoes Radio.
On March 7, 2016, Chesney announced that he was in the studio working on new music. The lead single to the album is titled “Noise”, which was released to country radio on March 24, 2016. The album, Cosmic Hallelujah, was released on October 28. The second song in the album, “Setting the World on Fire”, featuring singer P!NK was released to country radio on July 28, 2016.
Chesney released his fourteenth studio album, Welcome to the Fishbowl, on June 19, 2012. Its lead-off single, a Tim McGraw duet titled “Feel Like a Rock Star”, debuted at number 13 on the country charts, making it the second-highest debuting country song since the Billboard charts were first tabulated via Nielsen SoundScan, and the highest-debuting duet on that chart. Despite its high debut, the song peaked at number 11 only six weeks later before falling.
Chesney released his fifteenth studio album, Life on a Rock, on April 30, 2013. The first single from the album, “Pirate Flag”, was released to iTunes on February 5, 2013, and peaked at number 3 on the Country Airplay chart in May 2013. Pirate Flag peaked at number 7 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, May 25, 2013. The album’s second single, “When I See This Bar”, was released to country radio on June 10, 2013. When I see This Bar peaked at number 25 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, September 14, 2013. This specific album was a drastic change from his regular country feel, to an all beach and island touch.
In 2017, Chesney came to the aid of the U.S. and British Virgin Islands victims of Hurricane Irma, one of whom was given a free lift to the mainland United States. Chesney owns a mansion on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where many stayed to weather the storm. Chesney also set up a charitable fund, Love for Love City, to help victims of the storm. Chesney will donate all proceeds from “Songs for the Saints” to the fund.Chesney was born on March 26, 1968, in Knoxville, Tennessee, United States, at St. Mary’s Medical Center and was raised in Luttrell. He is of English and Irish descent. He is the son of David Chesney, a former elementary school teacher, and Karen Chandler, a hair stylist in the Knoxville area. Chesney has one sibling, a younger sister named Jennifer Chandler. In 1986, Chesney graduated from Gibbs High School, where he played baseball and football. He received his first guitar, “The Terminor”, for Christmas and began teaching himself how to play it.On November 7, 2007, Chesney was named the CMA Entertainer of the Year for the third time in four years. The following week, on November 15, 2007, the compilation Super Hits album was released as part of Sony BMG’s Super Hits series.In March 2020, he announced a new album called Here and Now, which features the title track and “Tip of My Tongue”, a leadoff single that was released in mid-2019. The album debuted at number one and became Chesney’s 16th top 10 album on the U.S. Billboard 200, with 233,000 units. In July 2010, Chesney released “The Boys of Fall” as the lead-off single from his album Hemingway’s Whiskey, which was released in September 2010. The song hit No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart for the week of October 9, 2010, marking Chesney’s eighteenth number one hit. Chesney has received twelve Country Music Association Awards (including winning their top Entertainer of the Year honor four times) and eleven Academy of Country Music Awards (including four consecutive Entertainer of the Year awards from 2005 to 2008), as well as six Grammy Award nominations. He is one of the most popular touring acts in country music, regularly selling out the venues in which he performs. His 2007 Flip-Flop Summer Tour was the highest-grossing country road trip of the year.
Chesney’s next album, The Road and the Radio, debuted at number one the Billboard 200 and produced five singles. “Living in Fast Forward”, “Summertime”, and “Beer in Mexico” all reached number one, while “Who You’d Be Today” and “You Save Me” both broke the Top 5. Chesney promotes his beliefs of perfection, as getting songs right in the studio, ultimately leads to performing it right on the road and on the radio.
In 2000, Chesney and Tim McGraw became involved in a scuffle with police officers in Buffalo, New York, after Chesney attempted to ride a police horse. McGraw came to Chesney’s aid after police officers nearby believed the horse was being stolen. The two were arrested and charged, Chesney for disorderly conduct and McGraw for assault, but were acquitted in 2001.When the Sun Goes Down was honored with the 2004 CMA award for Album of the Year while Chesney was honored as the Entertainer of the Year. He was also presented with AMA’s 2004 Artist of the Year award.
Kenneth Arnold Chesney (born March 26, 1968) is an American country music singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He has recorded more than 20 albums and has produced more than 40 Top 10 singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay charts, 32 of which have reached number one. Many of these have also charted within the Top 40 of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, making him one of the most successful crossover country artists. He has sold over 30 million albums worldwide.In January 2005, Chesney released the album Be as You Are (Songs from an Old Blue Chair), supporting it with his Somewhere in the Sun Tour. Be as You Are is composed mostly of ballads. The album qualified for RIAA Platinum and entered the top of both mainstream country and pop music.
Chesney left the audition with a songwriter’s contract. A year later, an appearance at a songwriter’s showcase led to a contract with Capricorn Records, which had recently started a country division. Everywhere We Go, Chesney’s fourth album from BNA, came in 1999. That album produced two consecutive number one hits with “How Forever Feels” and “You Had Me from Hello” (the latter inspired by a line in the movie Jerry Maguire). The album also produced two more singles with “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” and “What I Need to Do”, which peaked at numbers 11 and 8 on the country charts, respectively. Everywhere We Go was Chesney’s first album to be certified platinum. The album marked a departure from his original neotraditional country sound, to his more familiar country pop/trop rock/Gulf and Western sound he has since become known for. On October 24, Chesney announced his 2015 tour The Big Revival Tour, which began on March 26, 2015. On October 27, he and Jason Aldean announced that they would perform 10 joint stadium shows in the summer of that year. Two days later, Brantley Gilbert announced that he would be opening for the Chesney/Aldean stadium shows, as well as five additional shows on Chesney’s solo tour.
On July 24, 2008, Chesney announced that he would be releasing a new single from an upcoming album entitled Lucky Old Sun. The song was titled “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven”, and for the chart week of August 16, 2008, it debuted at No. 22 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. The album was released on October 14, 2008. “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven” became a No. 1 hit. It was followed by a cover of Mac McAnally’s 1990 single “Down the Road”.The album No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems was released in 2002. Its lead-off single, “Young”, peaked at number 2, while the follower “The Good Stuff” spent seven weeks at number 1 and became Billboard’s number one country song of the year for 2002. The video for “Young” was honored by CMT with the Video of the Year and Male Video of the Year awards for 2002. In 2003, ACM honored Chesney as Top Male Vocalist of the Year, while “The Good Stuff” received the award for Single Record of the Year. CMT later recognized the video for the album’s title track as the Hottest Video of the Year.
In case you missed it, Emmy-nominated Music Director and Grammy award-winning writer, Adam Blackstone takes us to rehearsals and the red carpet at The Oscars and GRAMMYs. Adam Blackstone in the GRAMMYs rehearsals Credit: By C’est La Zee This man is no stranger to the world of award shows. Adam,… Read more
Andrew Marshall is a seasoned drummer who has performed and recorded with countless artists and bands. A New York native, Andrew first encountered the city’s vibrant music scene as a child. He received his first drum set at the age of 9 and soon after, his father took him to… Read moreHarmoni shares the post-show rundown of every show on her Instagram and according to her, Pittsburgh always has a special place in her heart. She talks about how concert-goers were lined up for days just to get the best spot during the show. Now that’s dedication.
Another memorable venue was Empower Field in Denver, CO which seats at least 60,000. For many, being on stage in front of a sea of people can be an unnerving experience, but this hardly seems to be the case for Harmoni who remembers the Denver tour stop as one of her top three stages. We can only imagine the atmosphere in that arena – it must’ve been surreal. Nothing greater than the musical energy you put out coming right back at you at full speed.
In case you missed our third installment of artist vlogs, Tiana Ohara takes us to the sights and sounds of Coachella 2022 as she shows off her Vertigo Ultra Electric, Vertigo Bass, and Pedalboard Medium. Tiana Ohara with NIKI at Coachella 2022Credit: Natt Lim Tiana takes lead on the guitar… Read moreI’ve played Fender basses my whole life, but the bass player who had played for two decades before me had used Music Man basses the whole time. Kenny told me Music Man would give me anything I wanted to play, but it’s my choice to play whichever type of bass I choose. It was an opportunity that I didn’t think I’d have again, so for the first two years of playing with Kenny, I used a Music Man through a Peavey amp. It was awesome and sounded great, but after going to NAMM a few years in a row, I got in touch with the Fender and Ampeg people, and that felt like home to me, so I switched back. You really can’t go wrong with that combo. And that’s not to knock Music Man and Peavey; their stuff is awesome. This setup just fits this sound better for me.I’m a huge Guns N’ Roses and Duff McKagan fan. Stylistically, I’ve never really emulated him by using a pick or a chorus pedal, but he was the reason why I started playing bass. It was in that time of being a teenager when you have posters on your wall and you watched MTV videos all day and when you’re into a band. It just takes over your entire world. My best friend Robin and I were such big GnR fans, and she came to me one day and had that classic conversation where she said we should start our own band. We had never played instruments before, but we decided that she’d play guitar and I’d play bass because I was so into Duff, so we did. I got a bass for Christmas when I was 17. My dad and I went to a music store in Austin, and we picked out a Mexican-made Precision with a burgundy finish and white pickguard. I got a small Peavey TNT combo amp, and I would sit on the floor in my parents’ living room and listen to records and try to learn all of the bass lines. I had always been good at hearing bass; that’s just what my ear always went to in songs. I never went to school, or took lessons. I always just taught myself by ear, which is the same thing I’m doing still. If it ain’t broke, I suppose.One of my favorite things to do to get a specific tone is to use palm muting and pluck with my thumb. That changes dynamics so much, and it works really well with acoustic songs. Otherwise, I don’t really think about my technique while it’s happening. It becomes instinctual after playing for a while. I am conscious of where I’m striking the string with my finger, though, whether I’m using it closer to the nail or closer to the pad. That can really change up the thickness of the tone you’re getting. Usually it just happens when I’m playing live and I don’t have to think about it.
To me, it’s like we’re laying a really comfy but solid bed for the rest of the music. Kenny has done away with a lot of traditional elements of country music like a lap-steel guitar. And we only have fiddle on a couple of the songs, but otherwise he gets away from that twang and more into a rock feel. In traditional country music you have the fiddle, lap or pedal steel, a banjo, and a million harmonies and backup vocals. With so much high range going on, the bass has to be solid and sit under all of that. You’re mainly pulling a variation of a walking line, the 1–5, or a swing type of line. Bass isn’t busy in country, so I’m not going to noodle all over this music. I want to lock in with the drummer and make sure that it’s solid. A lot of times people are dancing, and I’ve played my share of two-step gigs, and if you’re not tight, the dancers get pissed.I thought I was prepared going into it. I was not. Our guitarist told me that he had played big gigs before playing in this band, with Bob Seger and other big artists, but when he stepped onstage at a football stadium with Kenny, it took his breath away. The first time I played with Kenny was a hometown show at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, and it was his birthday, so all these celebrities were there, from Joe Walsh to Taylor Swift. I had never been on a stage that big, I had never worn in-ears before, I had never played a 5-string live before, and I just had to go out and perform with all of those factors. But talk about a rush — it was one of the wildest experiences of my life. They were right. It definitely took my breath away.Kelley walked into the room and was immediately greeted by Chesney before promptly being ushered onto the stage where the full band was set up in front of the entire road crew. They quickly had her put in some makeshift in-ear monitors — another first for her — and then clicked into the first of six songs, right around the time that Kelley’s nerves were peaking and her heart rate doubled that of the click tempos. Calming herself and playing to her best ability on a 5-string with loose in-ears, she was startled when Chesney waved his arms in the air and called a halt to the performance. He grabbed the rest of the band and brought them into the hallway, leaving Kelley alone on the stage holding her bass. Certain that she had ruined her chances for the bass chair, her thoughts turned dark, which only intensified when Chesney and the rest of the band returned with crossed arms and grim looks on their faces. They stood motionless at the front of the stage and remained silent for what seemed like forever. The tension broke when Chesney burst into a huge smile, proclaiming, “I’m just f’ing with you — you’re in the band!” The room erupted and everyone circled around and embraced Harmoni in what would be one of the best and most altering moments of her life.
I was just discussing this with our front-of-house guy, Chris Rabold, who is world class at what he does. He told me that his biggest struggle is always bass. Playing huge football stadiums and arenas are super tricky to dial in, because you have to make this low, rumbling frequency extend to all corners of that huge space. Playing a 5-string makes that even trickier, because you have to project that low B and make it heard, not just a rumbling. I never want my tone to be muddy, and I don’t want to get lost in the mix, because the bass lines are so important to these songs. There’s a fine line between being really warm and buttery and getting lost. And you have to make it punch and cut through without making it too trebly and clicky-clacky. And that, my friend, is the biggest challenge of playing a big arena as a bass player. So I leave the sound that’s out in the crowd up to Chris, and he’s amazing at it. Luckily for me, I have in-ear monitors, so I hear everything I’m doing crystal clear. I’m good so long as the fans hear it as well. If I had my druthers and I could play in any style — and don’t go telling Kenny this — it would be with a R&B/soul/funk band. There’s something about that type of music and the bass role in it that’s very appealing to me. It’s super slinky and super solid in all the right ways. I’ve been listening to a lot of D’Angelo’s Voodoo , with Pino Palladino on bass, and it makes me want to cry because it’s so good. It’s hard to even explain in words. That shit is just so good to me. Now five years later, she’s a full-fledged member of the band, with integral musical and vocal moments in the live shows, and she has become a fan favorite of the adoring crowds that fill stadiums to see Chesney’s epic performances. And with Chesney hard at work in the studio currently recording his next album, Harmoni is gearing up to hit the road once again, equipped with her 5-string Fender, which now feels like home after her initial trial by fire with it. Adapting on the fly is something that Harmoni has become very adept at, as each show’s capacity crowd keeps growing, and every venue presents new challenges in projecting her tone, which she is very particular about. But more than meticulous, she’s just grateful to have landed her dream gig with one of the biggest stars of country music.
He’s not at all what I expected from somebody at that level of fame. You can tell that he comes from a small town; nothing was handed to him, and he didn’t just put out a #1 hit and blow up overnight — he worked his way up. They started playing in flatbed trailers and built up to small clubs and rodeos and finally grew a fan base that loved him. That really comes across when he’s onstage. I’ve played my fair share of gigs with artists who don’t really acknowledge the band onstage or interact with them, which always makes for a weird dynamic, and it comes across in the music. Kenny is the exact opposite of that. He has the “we’re in this together” mentality. I love getting to sing with him throughout the set, and we even have a song that’s a duet for the two of us. He appreciates his bandmates so much and always lets us know it.
It helps a whole lot. I’ve never been a super-technical gear person when it comes to my bass, like I don’t have a huge pedalboard or anything, but Chris and I try a lot of combinations to make it work. Every rehearsal we test a few different things for my tone. I have my SVT-VR onstage with an 8×10 cab, and then I have an Ampeg Portaflex in an isolated cab on the side of the stage miked up to blend with my main mix, and then he sends it all through a Neve preamp and an Ampeg SCR-DI pedal. It’s a big science to dial in my tone. I’m still such a student, and I ask so many questions regarding what we can change to better my tone, because I’m so curious. There’s no such thing as perfect tone, but I want to get as close as possible. It’s a constant struggle for us bass players; we’re always chasing that ideal sound we hear in our heads.
In 2012, Harmoni Kelley landed the high honor of joining country star Hank Williams Jr.’s band, so she packed up her things and made the move from Austin, Texas to Nashville. After a brief stint with Williams, she flourished in her new scene and went on to play alongside James McMurty, Bonnie Bishop, and Holly Williams. She busily was making a name for herself in Nashville’s bustling music scene, when one day she got a call from her friend, guitarist Kenny Greenberg. He told her that Kenny Chesney was looking for a new bassist and that he wanted her to audition. After meeting the band for an instrumental audition and to make sure her personality fit the bill, Kelley went back home and waited for a callback. Weeks passed, and Kelley began growing nervous that she didn’t land the once-in-a-lifetime gig. But finally her phone rang and she was called back for another audition, this time with Chesney in attendance. The only problem was that the gig called for a 5-string player, which is something that Kelley had not attempted before — so she scrambled to get her hands on one, and she woodshedded as much as she could before she got to the audition space.
It’s been a really good lesson for me as a player to get outside of my comfort zone and not worry so much about what I look like and what I’m doing. It’s all about taking chances. I’ve always been used to standing back by the drummer and just holding down the rhythm and focusing on the music in a supportive role, but for this I’m expected to go out and run around and go out to the crowd riser and jump all over the place. When you’re running around and jumping up and down it can be really hard to maintain the precision of your playing. It’s not like just standing there and focusing on the notes anymore. And as a bass player, you want to hit the strings with consistent attack, and that can be hard when you’re jogging through the crowd. It takes a lot of practice, but you get better at it over time.