Review CMA Songwriters Series featuring Kenny Chesney


Royale Nightclub, Boston, MA


August 25



It wasn’t like the night was all about Kenny Chesney, but it wasn’t like it wasn’t mostly about the country music superstar either. The Country Music Associations’ Songwriter Series at Royale united Chesney with a handful of Music Row’s biggest hitmakers: Craig Wiseman, Matraca Berg, Wendell Mobley, Brett James, and Bob DiPiero, who also played genial MC for the night.

Undoubtedly, Chesney, who follows the intimate club show with two mega concerts at Gillette Stadium this weekend, is the biggest star featured in these round robin style shows. Certainly, the in-between song chat centered on Chesney stories, which seemed to involve a lot of drunk dialing and lonely Christmas calls (from Chesney).

“When Kenny drunk dials you at midnight, you listen,” said James. “We’ve done a lot of phone writing.” He recalled co-writing ‘Out Last Night’ in-person though, after a particularly wild night on the town.

“The next morning,” he started to say before Chesney interrupted with, “It was 2:30 in the afternoon…”

The pair gleefully sang the song like they were fresh off the fun.

Dressed in customary gray T-shirt, oatmeal slacks, and a Red Sox baseball cap (there were no cowboy hats on stage, N.B.), Chesney’s melodious, fine voice led poignant ballads such as “Old Blue Chair” and “I Can’t Go There,” the latter showing off his band pianist and backing vocalist Wyatt Beard’s sweetening backing vocals. Chesney dedicated current hit “You and Tequila” to Vermont singer Grace Potter, who appears on the recording. Berg, who wrote the song, took Potter’s spot, adding lovely airy harmonies.

The closeness of the small room show (for Chesney) was nothing compared to the camaraderie on stage. The symbiotic relationship was clear: These artists fed Chesnaey great songs and he turned their work into chart-topping hits and put dinner on their tables. A very nice dinner, too, apparently.