Kenny Chesney had fans hanging from trees and crouching on rooftops when he took over the Hog’s Breath for a stripped down, three hour ‘Keg In The Keys’ show Sunday afternoon in Key West, Florida. Kenny, along with three players, performed fan favorites, album tracks not often heard live and a few well-placed covers during the set. He also welcomed songwriter Keith Gattis for “El Cerrito Place” and “I’m A Small Town.”
“When it gets to be about time to get back out there, I really like to do these surprise shows,“ Kenny said. “It’s a low impact way to ease back into the songs, to find the curve in what we do – and have a whole lotta fun doing it.”
About 5,000 people crammed onto the patio, in the streets and on the sidewalks of the Hogs Breath, an iconic Key West watering hole on Front Street. Kenny kicked off the show by announcing “We’re gonna play some old songs, some new songs and a whole lotta songs” before launching into “Welcome To The Fishbowl.”
Kenny joked with the crowd that he hadn’t had a beer since the first of the year and apologized for “needing to be a good boy, and this is the worst place in the world to do that.” He talked with the crowd, asking members of the audience where they were from and even inviting two sisters and their mom on stage to sing with him.
In keeping with the laid back feel of the show, guitarist Clayton Mitchell took lead vocals on Steve Ray Vaughan’s “Pride & Joy” and Van Halen’s “Ice Cream Man,” while No Shoes Radio’s Mark Tamburino performed Violent Femmes’ “Blister in the Sun.” Kenny covered George Strait’s “Ocean Front Property” and Merle Haggard’s “Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink.” Kenny chose Key West for the show in part to celebrate his upcoming album, Life On A Rock, out April 30.
“I opened my very first real headlining show in West Palm, so Florida’s become a part of my soul,” Kenny said. “When we were trying to figure where to do this year’s Keg show, nowhere in the continental United States has the spirit of what Life On A Rock embodies quite like Key West. Starting another year, it seemed like the only place to do this show was the Hog’s Breath.”
Kenny will kick off his No Shoes Nation Tour on March 16 in Tampa Bay.