Kenny Chesney at Wildwood Beach, NJ (American Express Unstaged)

Kenny Chesney
American Express Unstaged
Wildwood Beach, NJ
June 20, 2012

On Wednesday, June 20, 2012, the Jersey Shore witnessed a once in a lifetime event as Kenny Chesney performed on Wildwood Beach as a part of American Express’ Unstaged Concert Series.  Chesney, who released a new album the day before entitled “Welcome to the Fishbowl”, was the star of this amazing event, directed by Jonathan Demme, which was also streamed live on various internet sites across the net. 

The event planners and Chesney’s fan club had given out 20,000 tickets to fans who were able to access the enclosed portion of the beach. These ticket holders invaded Wildwood as another 30,000 plus arrived and were content in just hearing the music from the Boardwalk.  All day long, the Jersey Shore town turned into Kenny Chesney Central. 

Bars were selling drinks such as “You and Tequila” and “Hemmingway’s Whiskey” and large signs were hanging from houses, hotels, bars, and stores, welcoming the country superstar to town. Dozens of t-shirt stores created their own custom shirts and tank tops for this particular night as it was clear Chesney’s appearance drastically helped the area’s economy. 

The concert itself began promptly at 8:30 p.m. with an extended intro video, designed by Jonathan Demme, showcasing many of Chesney’s island travels as well as his arrival at Wildwood and a behind the scenes look at the setup of the massive stage on the beach. The show then got started with some Chesney concert staples, “Beer In Mexico” and “Summertime”, both quite appropriate for the beach setting that night. 
Chesney proclaimed, various times during the night, that the venue/beach was easily one of the coolest places he has ever played. He certainly played up to the beach theme, as he usually does, with songs such as “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem”, “On the Coast of Somewhere Beautiful”, and “Guitar and Tiki Bars”. Suprisingly, the song that got the biggest response all night, was “When the Sun Goes Down” as it became an instant sing-a-long and had everyone taking off their flip-flops and grinding their toes in the sand.  

Much of the show was high production with an interactive high definition screen and a spectacular light show. The stage was absolutely enormous and was amplified by the bordering ferris wheel on the left and rollar coasters on the right.   The setting and ambience of the entire night was spectacular.  In fact, I found Chesney to be most geniune when he stripped down to an acoustic guitar as he sang “You and Tequila” and “Old Blue Chair”. Chesney singing these songs acoustically in the ocean air really brought home what the night was about: loving music and enjoying life, especially when on a beach. 

What I did find odd and a bit disappointing was that he only performed two songs off of his new album. But, the two that he did perform were incredibly well received. “Feel Like a Rockstar” had the crowd stomping and singing along, despite the absence of Tim McGraw (many false rumors were circulating that he and Grace Potter were in town and were to perform as special guests). And “Come Over”, complete with snippets of the steamy music video, was performed to perfection. It is only a matter of time until “Come Over” becomes yet another #1 song for the King of Summer. 

After Chesney performed his football anthem, “Boys of Fall”, it appeared as if he was finished for the night.  In fact, that is when the fans watching on the internet were told that the Wildwood Experience had concluded.  But after a few minutes, Chesney and his talented band came back to the stage and he proclaimed “okay, they got their concert in … now its time for the second show!”  They ripped into “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” and all of sudden the energy in crowd seemed to increase instantly.  
What would follow was a nine song set full of Chesney taking requests from the crowd and famous cover songs in which he and his band absolutely rocked on.  There were long electric guitar solo’s being traded by each of the skilled band members on “You Really Got Me” by the Kinks and “Pride and Joy” by Stevie Ray Vaughn.  He even brought out songwriter Mark Tamburino to perform an extended version of “Like a Blister In the Sun”.  At one point he asked the crowd what they wanted hear next and many people shouted out “I Go Back” and Chesney hit himself in the head.   He said “how in the world did that get left off the setlist.  Okay, let’s go” and many fans were finally satisfied with the night’s missing hit finally being sung. 

To me, the absolute highlight of the night was Chesney’s acoustic cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart” (see video below).  He told the crowd it was a bit taboo if he had not performed this song while being at the Jersey Shore as Bruce was one of his big brothers in the business.  Despite fumbling while trying to tune his guitar to where he wanted it to be, Chesney nailed a stripped version of the song and many fans responded with their gratitude for his version.  Various shouts of “Bruuuuuuuuuceeee” were heard throughout the beachside. 

 Kenny and company finished the set with a cover of Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker” and thanked to crowd numerous times before leaving the stage.  It was an amazing two hour plus, 27 song set that was performed to perfection throughout.  It is very evident to any concert goer that there is no better performer in all of country music.  His energy is unparalled and his songs are the perfect choices, both lyrically and musically, for live shows.  And on this night, on the beach in Wildwood, while I had my toes in the sand, I do not think I have enjoyed a show more.


American Express Set:

  1. Beer in Mexico
  2. Summertime
  3. Feel Like A Rockstar
  4. No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem
  5. What I Need To Do
  6. Come Over
  7. Anything But Mine
  8. Guitar and Tiki Bars
  9. You and Tequila (Acoustic Version)
  10. Old Blue Chair (Acoustic Version)
  11. Living in Fast Forward
  12. Young
  13. Somewhere With You
  14. On the Coast of Somewhere Beautiful
  15. Everyone Wants to Go to Heaven
  16. When the Sun Goes Down
  17. Don’t Happen Twice
  18. Boys of Fall

2nd Set:

  1. She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy
  2. Went Out Last Night
  3. Like a Blister In the Sun (featuring Mark Tamburino)
  4. You Really Got Me (The Kinks Cover)
  5. Pride and Joy (Stevie Ray Vaughn Cover)
  6. I Go Back
  7. Never Wanted Nothing More
  8. Hungry Heart (Bruce Springsteen Acoustic Cover)
  9. The Joker (Steve Miller Band Cover)
“Hungry Heart”  (Bruce Springsteen Acoustic Cover)
You can see the entire performance here:

Willie Nelson Shows Perfection at the Shubert Theater

Willie Nelson
Shubert Theater, New Haven, CT
June 18, 2012

It always amazes me when I see Willie Nelson perform live.  Each year, the living legend gets older and I half expect him to sound a bit less like himself or to perform a shorter set.  Yet, each year he surpasses my expectations and sounds exactly like the man I have grown up listening to.  On Tuesday night, at the Shubert Theater in New Haven, CT, it was no exception.  Not only did Willie sound perfect, but he belted out a thirty song set chalk full of hits new and old. 

He started the show in all black from his cowboy hat to his t-shirt and pants – and in typical fashion, sang “Whiskey River”.  A few notes into the song a giant Texas flag draped the entire backdrop of the stage.  He showed his skillful guitar picking on “Still Is Still Moving To Me” and performed a folksy rendition of his #1 duet with Toby Keith, “Beer For My Horses”.  Willie did not speak too much between songs, but was full of thanks and smiles. 

Most pleasing and surprising was that Willie sang several newer and humorous tracks such as “Superman”, a duet he recorded with rapper Snoop Doggy Dog as well as “Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die”, a song he recorded again with Snoop as well as Jamey Johnson and Kris Kristoferson on his newest album, “Heroes”. He had the crowd cracking up to “You Don’t Think I’m Funny Anymore” and cheering to a song he had written with Waylon Jennings called “Write Your Own Song”.  That track was written as an insult to the record executives who tried to push around artists in Nashville.  Willie does not get pushed around by anyone nowadays and that song really made you think about how Waylon and Willie rebelled against the system back in the day. 

Of course, Willie did not leave out some of his biggest and most legendary hits, such as “Always On My Mind”, “On The Road Again” and “Angel Flying Too Close To the Ground”.  He even performed a beautiful guitar solo that reminded me of a Spanish Guitar Melody as an intro to his old classic, “I Never Cared For You”. But no matter what Willie Nelson sang into the microphone at the intimate Shubert Theater, it was a real reminder that Willie is still at the top of his game and has no signs of slowing down. 


  1. Whiskey River
  2. Still Is Still Moving to Me
  3. Beer For My Horses
  4. Time Slips Away
  5. Crazy
  6. Nightlife is No Good Life
  7. Listen to the Blues That Are Playing
  8. Down Yonder (piano solo by Bobby Nelson)
  9. Me and Paul
  10. Help me Make it Through the Night
  11. Good Hearted Woman (Waylon Jennings Cover)
  12. On the Bayou (Hank Williams Cover)
  13. Hey Good Looking (Hank Williams Cover)
  14. Move It On Over
  15. Mama Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys
  16. Angel Flying Too Close To the Ground
  17. On the Road Again
  18. Anything You Ask Me To
  19. Georgia on a Fast Train
  20. Georgia On My Mind
  21. Window Faces the South
  22. Cold War
  23. Superman
  24. You Don’t Think I’m Funny Anymore
  25. Write Your Own Song
  26. Solo – Spanish guitar
  27. I Never Cared For You
  28. Fly away
  29. Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die
  30. I Saw The Light


Beer For My Horses
Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die


On The Road Again

Mama Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys

Guitar Solo
Always On My Mind

Rascal Flatts and Some All American Bands Invade Connecticut

Rascal Flatts
Changed Tour
Featuring Little Big Town, Eli Young Band, & Eden’s Edge
June 15, 2012 – Hartford, CT

The Rascal Flatts brought their “all band show” to Hartford, Connecticut as they kicked off their summer leg of the 2012 “Changed Tour”.  This tour is highlighted as one of the first country music concerts which exclusively had bands as the acts.  Accompanying the mega star Rascal Flatts were veterans Little Big Town, and up and comers Eli Young Band and Eden’s Edge.  Each of the bands have a unique sound, however, it was clear that no one would outshine the headliners. 

Eden’s Edge kick started the show with a short set.  The trio consists of two females and one male.  Their biggest song to date, “Amen”, seemed to resonate with the crowd as it became a nice sing-a-long for the band.  Eli Young Band was up next with a spirited set highlighted by the songs “Crazy Girl” and “Even If It Breaks Your Heart”.  The band is less commercial than a lot of today’s country despite their recent radio success.  Their sound borders on country, Americana, and rock creating a very unique and likeable sound.  Little Big Town was the third opener and their forty five minute set was full of harmony and class. 

The summer anthem “Pontoon”, LBT’s newest single had the entire amphitheater dancing.  The band even covered a hillbilly rendition of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”.  This group, which has been around country music is 1998, has a great blend of harmonies between the two males and two females.  However, there were only a few sing-a-long songs for the sold out crowd.  Their music is solid, but they are still looking for that huge #1 hit.  “Pontoon” has the potential to take them to the top.  They finished their set with, arguably, their biggest song to date, “Boondocks”. 

The Rascal Flatts took the stage and it was clear they were upping the ante for the summer.  High production screens with a light show that included illuminated cubes that were constantly moving in the background made the visuals of the show extremely glamorous.  The Band, who are led by Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus, and Joe Don Rooney, have put together one of the most successful country careers in history.  On that night in Hartford, they brought out all of their hits, new and old, and had the place jumping. 

The Flatts started out of the gate with full energy as they opened with their recent #1 and country anthem, “Banjo”.  They followed it up with possibly their most raucous song, “Bob That Head”.  At that point the trio was off and running as they pumped out hit after hit.  

The cubes in the background, as you can see in the photos, really added to the production of the show.  The cubes were constantly moving and changing colors throughout.  Gary LeVox moved around the stage pretty much non-stop and belted out notes that only he can hit.  Especially on songs such as “What Hurts The Most” and “Untouchable”, the notes LeVox was able to hit, no doubt, gave the sold out crowd goosebumps. 

At one point, Jay DeMarcus stated the Band was going to take requests from the crowd and he seemed to pretend to ask fans to give them requests.  This seemed a bit fabricated because the songs they then performed turned out to be some of their biggest hits.  Nonetheless, it was great to hear “Praying For Daylight”, “Mayberry”, and “Sarabeth”. 

During “Life Is A Highway”, the screen became a Nascar track with Disney’s “Cars” racing behind them.  LeVox seemed to greatly enjoy that song and the production behind him as he seemed to be at his most active on stage, which is saying a lot. 

The set included a great mix of ballads and party tunes.  During the ballads, LeVox’s vocals thundered in the night as the stage illuminated with stars and blue lights.  During the high energy songs, such as “Me & My Gang”, Rooney and DeMarcus came to the forefront with their instrument playing and joined LeVox as the stars of the show.  The three men really feed off of each other and there is no jealousy displayed from any of the members. 

The show concluded with a cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re An All American Band” as the Flatts welcomed Little Big Town, Eli Young Band, and Eden’s Edge to the stage. 

It really was a great sight to see all four bands on stage at the same time and trading vocals back and forth.  The harmony that proceeded with each of the bands was stunning.  I would love to hear the four of them record this song and release it as a single. 

Overall the show was excellent and I am always a bit taken aback at how big of a following the Rascal Flatts have.  The streets were flooded with cars and traffic and the arena was filled with fans of young and old.  The All-American Bands really shined bright on the opening night in Hartford, Connecticut. 


  1. Banjo
  2. Bob That Head
  3. Fast Cars and Freedom
  4. Play A Country Song
  5. Each Day
  6. Here Comes Tonight
  7. Hot In Here
  8. Sarabeth
  9. Praying For Daylight
  10. All About the Sunset
  11. Mayberry
  12. Why Wait
  13. Broken Heart
  14. Life Is a Highway
  15. Feels Like Today
  16. Every Day
  17. Summer Nights
  18. Me & My Gang
  19. Come Wake Me Up
  20. What Hurts the Most
  21. Unstoppable
  22. All American Band (Grand Funk Railroad Cover performed with Little Big Town, Eli Young Band, and Eden’s Edge)


Intro & Banjo
Me & My Gang
Why Wait
Born This Way