Paisley Picks in Phoenix for Tour Kickoff

Brad Paisley has scored two platinum albums and three No. 1 singles, but he has never headlined a full-fledged tour. That changes Thursday night (Sept. 19) when the first-ever CMT Most Wanted Live Concert Tour kicks off in Phoenix.

Pinmonkey opens the show at the Celebrity Theatre, but supporting acts will vary on each date of Paisley’s 44-city tour. Among those signing up for individual concerts are Steve Azar , Chris Cagle , Tammy Cochran , Andy Griggs , Steve Holy , Shannon Lawson , Pinmonkey , Rascal Flatts , Tommy Shane Steiner and Darryl Worley.

Paisley has maintained a heavy touring schedule ever since the 1999 release of his debut album, Who Needs Pictures. “This tour will be a lot different in that we’re calling the shots,” Paisley tells CMT News. “When you’re a newer artist, like I have been in the last three or four years, you find yourself at the mercy of every concert promoter you work for and at the mercy of every venue. Now we’re able to go in there and say, ‘This is how we’re gonna do it.’”

Even the smallest things — such as the backstage snacks available — can make a big difference to musicians on the road, Paisley says. “That kind of thing goes a long way,” he explains. “When you’re doing 44 dates in a matter of two or three months, that’s your life. It happens a lot on the road when you’ll get to a gig and somebody decides, ‘We’re not going to give him half the things in his performance rider.’ You’re there to do the gig. You’re still gonna do it, but all of a sudden you’re without milk — or maybe without just your favorite candy bar for the day — so it doesn’t make it feel like home.”

Several of the acts on the MWL tour have already recorded No. 1 hits, themselves. Paisley says he’s happy that so many of his friends are joining him on the tour.

“It’s great to be able to share this,” he says. “Every one of them is a friend of mine. There’s nobody on this tour that I don’t know. We’ve all done shows together already, so I think there will be a lot of hopping on one another’s buses and riding to the next town and maybe writing some songs in the meantime. That’s exciting. That’s what country music is about. The next thing you know, we’ve all got albums coming out with each other’s songs on it. It’s a bigger family.”

After the tour launches in Phoenix, Paisley performs a Saturday night (Sept. 21) show in Tucson with Cochran, Worley and Holy. Heading to California next week, the MWL tour stops in San Diego, Saratoga and Tulare before hitting Los Angeles for a Sept. 27 performance at the Universal Amphitheatre with Steve Azar and Shannon Lawson.

Get more information on the CMT Most Wanted Live Concert Tour.