Brad Paisley’s Tour Schedule Heating Up

The success of Brad Paisley’s second single, “He Didn’t Have to Be,” is heating up his touring schedule, leading to more and better-paying shows for the young artist. “It’s obviously happening pretty fast,” says his manager, Jimmy Gilmer. “We had planned to do a good deal of dates but not kill him.” Gilmer says he figures Paisley will do about 150 shows this year.

“We’re blocking some time to start working on a new album,” Gilmore continues. “It’s not going to be due for a year or so, but we need to get started on it. So we’ve got some holes blocked in several months this year, a few days here, a few days there.”

The increased attention Paisley is getting from fans, says Gilmer, is fueling the singer/songwriter’s already high level of enthusiasm. “He is enjoying playing so much more now, because he feels the response. When you’re brand new out there, they’re just kind of looking at you. But all of a sudden when you have a record like ’He Didn’t Have to Be,’ a lot of people are there to see you because of that. It generates a different kind of vibe, and he can feel that. It just makes him want to play that much more. He came to me and said, ’I’d rather be on my bus with my band going to a place to play than be at home. You can book me all you want.'”

Besides himself, there are six members in Paisley’s road band.

Realizing that Paisley might hit big, Gilmer deliberately held back on booking him. “In fact, we kind of anticipated this,” he says, “myself and Rob Beckham, his agent [at William Morris]. So we just took dates three or four months out. We’ve gradually started building it. We just have a nice, slow build, both money-wise and date-wise right on into the fall. The fall is still pretty open, and right now we’re just really holding off. We could book it solid. Every once in a while, a real good date comes in. We feel that we’ll probably end up with the October and November dates very, very strong for us.”

Paisley will be an opening act for Alan Jackson on various dates throughout this year. He will also work shows with Lonestar and Kenny Chesney and at least one with Martina McBride.

In April, he does a brief swing through England, Scotland and Ireland with Reba McEntire and Jo Dee Messina. “The rest of the dates — when we get into the summer,” Gilmer reports, “are mainly the fairs and festivals where we’re just one [act] of many. We’ll probably do most of the major festivals.” One of these will be the mammoth Jamboree in the Hills in Ohio in July, which Paisley used to play as a cast member of its sponsoring organization, Jamboree USA.

On March 1, Paisley will be featured on CMT’s On the Verge with fellow newcomer Jessica Andrews. His portion of the show will include a segment in which Alan Jackson discusses Paisley’s music and a performance of “He Didn’t Have to Be” with Martie Seidel of the Dixie Chicks.

Paisley’s growing celebrity has yet to be translated into large record sales. His album, Who Needs Pictures, which was released last June 1, has so far sold about 375,000 copies.

A spokesman for Arista Records, Paisley’s label, says it hasn’t been determined if Paisley will perform at Fan Fair.

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to