Top 10 Country Tours in Early 2012

Jason Aldean, Brad Paisley and George Strait Plan Winter Dates

Country’s hottest stars are touring this winter, and they’ve got the elixir for your cabin fever.

Miranda Lambert will be glad to light you a fire, Jason Aldean’s always ready to call some rowdy friends over, and the soothing sounds of Lady Antebellum promise to go down like hot cocoa on a cold night.

Meanwhile, Rascal Flatts invite fans inside to thaw out, George Strait and Martina McBride stick to the buddy system and kid-at-heart Brad Paisley reminds everyone how much fun it was to go out and build a snow fort.

Here are 10 of the top country tours heading over the river and through the woods this winter.

Jason Aldean
Aldean left his mark on 2011 with two No. 1 hits, “Don’t You Wanna Stay” (featuring Kelly Clarkson) and “Dirt Road Anthem,” plus the prestigious CMA album of the year (My Kinda Party). In 2012, his My Kinda Party looks to leave tattoos on every town it visits. Greenville, S.C., is the first to get inked on Jan. 20. Luke Bryan and Lauren Alaina will open the shows.

Dierks Bentley
Bentley will be asking that eternal question, “Am I the only one who wants to have fun tonight?” He’s sure to be answered with a resounding “No!” when the Country & Cold Cans tour pops its first top Jan. 21 in Mt. Pleasant, Mich. Keeping his cans cold will not be a problem there or when the tour continues on to Canada for more dates. Look for a new album on Feb. 7.

Eric Church
After building a loyal fan base in small clubs and bars all across the country, this year marks the chief’s first shot as an arena-level headliner. His aptly titled Blood, Sweat & Beers tour kicks off Jan. 19 in Fort Smith, Ark., featuring the charismatic bad boy along with Brantley Gilbert and a rotating cast of supporting acts — Cadillac Black, Blackberry Smoke, Sonia Leigh, Jon Pardi and Drake White.

Billy Currington
Currington surely learned a thing or two on Kenny Chesney’s Goin’ Coastal tour last summer, and he aims to bring that experience to his first turn as headliner this winter. Also featuring labelmates David Nail and Kip Moore, these suave country crooners hope to find that “People Are Crazy” for their mix of easy-going charm and soul.

Lady Antebellum
Lady Antebellum say their Own the Night 2012 World Tour is the one they’ve been waiting for all their lives. And with Darius Rucker and Thompson Square along for the ride, fans might think so, too. Starting Jan. 27 in Tulsa, Okla., the trio will lay claim to as much of America as they can before crossing the border into Canada in March.

Miranda Lambert
She may be known for burning things down, but Lambert’s On Fire tour looks to build her public profile even more. Her marriage to fellow country star Blake Shelton surely helped, and a side project with the Pistol Annies and a brand new solo album, Four the Record, kept the heat on. Chris Young and Jerrod Niemann are the firemen on the tour that began Thursday (Jan. 12) in Rockford, Ill.

Brad Paisley
Paisley’s on a mission to make his tour as fun as humanly possible. First he invented a new word to describe the carnival-like concerts — “camobunga” — but after seeing it come to life in rehearsal, he decided on a more fitting title. “For two hours each night of the tour, they can be taken away from reality — literally,” says Paisley. With Thursday’s (Jan. 12) kickoff in Grand Rapids, Mich., fans will have their lives turned upside down at the Virtual Reality World Tour 2012. The Band Perry and Scotty McCreery will be there to flip the switch each night.

Rascal Flatts
Being from the Midwest, Rascal Flatts are no strangers to the cold, so they know rule No. 1 of winter weather survival: Dress in layers. Lots of them. The same could be said for winter tour survival, and the Flatts boys will have an “Easy” time layering their hits with opening acts Sara Evans and newcomer Hunter Hayes. Their Thaw Out 2012 tour aims to melt your worries away during the tour that started Thursday (Jan. 12) in Charleston, W.Va.

Blake Shelton
Shelton had the biggest year of his career in 2011. His marriage to Miranda Lambert, the No. 1 song “Honey Bee” and side job as coach on the hit TV show The Voice all gave Shelton a platform to speak from. Now he’s making sure everybody in the back gets the message with his Well Lit & Amplified tour. Justin Moore and Shelton’s Voice protégé Dia Frampton join him on the dates that began Thursday (Jan. 12) in Toledo, Ohio.

George Strait
People may call him the king, but George Strait is all about teamwork. He puts on a team roping event every year in San Antonio and wrote much of his latest album, Here for a Good Time, with his son Bubba. Yet his right hand man for 2012 is actually a woman — one who seems closer to earning the title “queen” each year, Martina McBride. They’ll hold court in cities all across the country starting Jan. 27 in Lafayette, La.

Honorable Mention
You won’t be able to catch two of country’s favorite female stars unless you’ve got some serious frequent flyer miles to cash in, but we’d be out of line if we didn’t mention Reba McEntire and Taylor Swift’s international tours. McEntire will fly out to see whoever’s in old England on Feb. 26, then it’s on to Ireland, Switzerland and Germany. Meanwhile, Swift hopes to make “Sparks Fly” when she arrives down under March 3 with stops all across Australia and New Zealand. Adorable Facebook posts about kangaroos and koalas are sure to follow.

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