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edge staff writer


Eli Young Band's Chris Thompson Best seat in the house'

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Eli Young Band's Chris Thompson  Best seat in the house' photo courtesy Eli Young Band

Eli Young Band is unquestionably one of the most popular country bands on the planet today. The group's impressive track record includes eight hit singles to date (including two #1 hits), the most played song on country radio in 2011 ('Crazy Girl' also the 2012 ACM song of the year) and a new single currently racing up the charts ('Drunk Last Night') from their upcoming fifth studio album. They could easily be headlining their own tour at this moment but when Kenny Chesney calls and invites you to go out on the road for the summer, you don't say no.  

Eli Young Band, all Texas boys, will be special guests during Chesney's concert at Darling's Waterfront Pavilion on Wednesday, Aug. 7. Part of Chesney's 'No Shoes Nation' tour, this show features an additional opening Texas export, Kacey Musgraves ('Merry Go Round' and 'Blowin' Smoke'). At the time of writing, the website for Waterfront Concerts had a 'sell out warning' banner for this show. In other words, get your tickets now before it's too late. 

Chris Thompson, drummer for Eli Young Band, says there is no place he'd rather be than on this tour at this time. I spoke with Thompson just after the band's plane touched down in Wisconsin on Friday, Aug. 2.  

Dow: How has this tour been for Eli Young Band so far? 

Thompson: This is the biggest thing we've ever done. Kenny is very 'hands-on' in selecting the bands he tours with, and he really listens to our music and became a fan of the band. It's really a blessing and an honor. We have the best seat in the house every night to the biggest tour on the planet.

Dow: Is it true that Kenny became familiar with your band after your big win at last year's ACM awards?

Thompson: It is true. Two years ago, both Kenny and us were nominated for Song of the Year at the Academy of Country Music awards. We won (for 'Crazy Girl'), and that sort of put us on Kenny's radar. They story is, he texted his manager that night and asked, 'Who is the Eli Young Band? What's going on with these guys?' He got some of our music, liked what he heard and invited us to come out on the road with him all summer long. We're just trying to soak it all in before it's over. 

Dow: How have Kenny Chesney's fans been treating Eli Young Band? 

Thompson: Kenny's fans believe in the culture that he has created and he's letting us be a part of that, so they're also believing in us. Kenny is such an awesome entertainer and performer and he's been doing this for so long, he has a lot of great advice.  

Dow: What sort of advice has he shared with you?  

Thompson: He teaches more through his actions rather than sitting you down and saying 'don't do this, do this.' He preaches the gospel of 'paying attention to detail.' When you're running a tour and are the headliner like he is, you need to know 100 percent of what is going on. You need to get behind it and believe in it, and we see him doing that all the time. He's always there before the shows, going over the lights and videos and running a sound check. He's been doing it for so long he could phone it in at this point, but that's not what he's about.  

Dow: Things have changed a bit since you were here last (July 2012 with Rascal Flatts). I think you'll like it. 

Thompson: It's going to be awesome playing for the people in Bangor again. We heard that they moved the stage from the last time we were there. I also heard that people can ride their boat up along the site by the venue that is so cool!  

Dow: I wouldn't be surprised if you receive a visit from a train passing through during your set.  

Thompson: (laughs) Man, that reminds me of this little bar we used to play in Texas that had train tracks running behind it. Every time a train came in and blew the whistle, the bar would buy Jello shots for everybody. We loved it! We'd stop our set, come out and have a shot and go back to playing.

Dow: That fits the reputation you guys have of being very approachable. I'm sure fans here are looking forward to meeting you.  

Thompson: That's been a key to our success. We always try to sign after a show, and we'll do that in Bangor. After we're done playing, we'll come out to meet fans and sign right before Kenny comes on. Usually we're hanging out at the venue during the day if people want to bring stuff out to be signed. Also, on our website we have a section for 'meet and greets,' so there's an actual channel for people to go through if they'd like to meet us. Sometimes we'll Twitter or Facebook where we're at in the area and invite people to come out and join us.

Dow: Any crazy road stories you can share with us?  

Thompson: We were on tour with Dierks Bentley, and I think this was one of the last nights of the tour. It was called 'The Country and Cold Cans' tour, and we all came running out on stage in these costumes made with cold cuts and beer cans and a sign that said 'Country and Cold Cuts' (laughs). He got a kick out of that.  

Dow: Do you get any sleep on the road?  

Thompson: Next to none (laughs). We might have three flights in a day, a three-hour car ride, no sound check and a thunderstorm all in one day, but once we hit the stage, all of that goes away. We just really love what we're doing out there, so it's always worth it. 

Kenny Chesney with special guests Eli Young Band and Kacey Musgraves at Darling's Waterfront Pavilion on Wednesday, Aug. 7. Gates open at 5 p.m.  Tickets are available on site at the Maine Trailer Box Office after 12 noon, at and at Mark's Music in Brewer.  

'The Big Morning Show with Mike Dow' can be heard each morning on Big 104 FM The Biggest Hits of the '60s, '70s & '80s - airing on 104.3 (Augusta/Waterville),104.7 (Bangor/Belfast) and 107.7 (Bar Harbor)


Last modified on Tuesday, 06 August 2013 21:15


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