UPDATE: Officials confirmed Thursday night what CultureMap reported first: Kenny Chesney will be the headliner at The Big Dance Concert Series on April 3.
No shoes, no shirt, no problems with creating a mega Final Four concert event.
Are you ready for a free Kenny Chesney concert in Discovery Green the Sunday of Final Four weekend?
Several sources have told CultureMap that the Big Dance Concert Series will showcase a major country music star in the free show Sunday night, April 3 from Discovery Green. The plan is to show this star's performance from Houston as part of the The Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards telecast, which will be broadcast that night from Las Vegas by CBS, the same network that carries the Final Four. The ACM Awards telecast will cut to Houston — no doubt noting, it's the site of the April 4 championship game — and throw it to this major star.
And all signs point to that star being Kenny Chesney — the man behind such hit albums as No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problems, When the Sun Goes Down and Hemingway's Whiskey. Chesney sings "Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven," but this spring, everybody wants to get to Houston. Including apparently, Chesney.
Follow along with the CultureMap sleuthing that led right to Kenny.
When reliable sources told us that the April 3 Big Dance act would be a major country star with an ACM Awards tie, it quickly became a process of elimination — with a sharp eye kept on scheduling.
You can cross out anyone who's playing the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo this year. A return so soon wouldn't generate the kind of buzz in the community the NCAA is focused on building with the free concert series. College basketball's ruler and its partners aim to make the excitement around the Big Dance Concert Series almost match the buildup for the games themselves — essentially creating the Final Four's version of the Super Bowl halftime show, only more spread out and accessible to any fan.
The second part of the equation centers on the Academy of Country Music Awards themselves. The Final Four concert country star must carry plenty of relevance in the awards show. Otherwise, the synergy doesn't work. You can't throw it over to someone in Houston who's not up for some major ACMs.
This puts the focus on stars like Taylor Swift, Toby Keith and Chesney. Miranda Lambert, Toby Keith, Jason Aldean, Brad Paisley and Keith Urban would be in the mix as well if you argue that a big enough star might necessitate a rethinking of the no-Rodeo repeats argument.
Only, you don't have to even get that far.
Because guess which acts have already been announced as performers at the ACM Awards, announced as acts that will be singing "from the stage" in Las Vegas? Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, Jason Aldean, Brad Paisley, Miranda Lambert and Toby Keith.
Only one name is missing. Kenny Chesney.
The same Chesney who is up for five Academy of Country Music Awards, second only to Lambert.
The same Chesney whose picture is prominently featured on the ACM Awards website.
The same Chesney with the drop-dead handsome cowboy looks and the crossover appeal (ex-husband of A-list actress Renee Zellweger, Katy's own) that fits in with the already-announced April 2 Big Dance Concert Series headliner Kings of Leon (the Big Dance is working on booking a major pop act headliner for April 1).
There's strangely no word on Chesney being in Las Vegas April 3. Because all signs point to him being in Houston instead, entertaining an overflow crowd at Discovery Green and the CBS audience.
What region of the country is Chesney already scheduled to be in around Final Four weekend? He's playing Tulsa April 2, a quick hop to the Bayou City.
Several sources confirm that final negotiations for both the country and pop portions of The Big Dance Concert Series are taking longer than expected and say an official announcement will likely not be made until next week.