Brad Paisley is in the first week of his H20 II: Wetter & Wilder tour, which features plenty of familiar attractions fans enjoyed on his first H20 trek, including the Water World Plaza, a Corvette driving simulator and the now-infamous dunking booth. But while the reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year is looking forward to repeating some of the fun from last year’s tour, he says there will be new attractions as well, both on and off stage.
“It’s a whole new album, which helps,” Brad says (quote via Real Country Online). “We’ve got a lot of new songs to pull off that ought to be great live — things like ‘Workin’ on a Tan’ and the duet with Blake Shelton, ‘Don’t Drink the Water.’ With Blake being out with me, it ought to be fun to play every night and work really well with the theme. Being that it’s a new year and a new album, our whole entire set is different as well as all the acts out on the road.”
The new tour has Blake joining Jerrod Niemann as opening acts, with Sunny Sweeney, Brent Anderson and Edens Edge all performing on smaller stages earlier in the afternoon. The ‘Water’ singer says he relishes the opportunity to give newer acts a larger platform.
“What I did like about last year though was the format which was the three-act opening stage out in the entry way of these places and getting to see three new acts in the middle of the afternoon in the summertime when people are looking for that,” he acknowledges. “They’re looking for a day’s worth of entertainment as opposed to just three hours at the end of the day. They showed up in droves at four in the afternoon for these new acts and to be able to give that gift to another three new acts is really a great and special thing. I remember getting that opportunity with Alan Jackson, so I look forward to seeing that happen again.”
The West Virginia native says he put a great deal of thought into choosing which acts would accompany him on his five-month tour. “You’ve got Blake Shelton who couldn’t be hotter and I’m absolutely thrilled to get to collaborate with him again,” notes the multi-platinum-selling star. “You’ve got Jerrod Niemann who is on a real roll and just had his second hit. He’s on the same record label as me. [He’s] just a great act and I’ve known him a long time. He was out with us for a couple of months at the beginning of the year and he did so well that we just decided to keep him on. Then, on the other stage, you have three acts that most people won’t be all that familiar with yet. I picked them … not based on success record or anything like that … when you put them on that stage, it’s about ‘who do I think deserves to be in front of people with what they’re doing.'”
The husband of actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley and father to two boys may seem to have done it all — including recording the recent No. 1 song, ‘Old Alabama,’ with the legendary group Alabama, which he describes as a dream come true. “I feel like a couple of years ago if somebody had asked, Who do you really want to collaborate with?’ I wouldn’t have necessarily have said Alabama because I wouldn’t have thought that was a possibility,” he acknowledges. “I would have thought, ‘Well, Alabama, they’re taking a break. They’re not touring. They did a farewell tour. They’ll never do something like that. What would that sound like? Me with Alabama? They don’t need me. They’re a band. They have three great singers. How could I possibly come up with some way of collaborating with Alabama that wouldn’t feel forced and weird?’ So that wouldn’t have been on my radar. Now looking at it, I feel like I should have been all along, going, ‘Here’s my goal. I think this will be one of the pinnacles musically that I’ll ever contribute to country music.’ I wouldn’t have ever guessed that.”
Still, there is still one other artist he hopes to work with at some point in his already epic career. “In my mind, I’ve always wanted to play guitar with Eric Clapton,” admits the noted ax man. “I’ve always wanted to do something like that that can step out of country a little more while being myself and being country. A big aspect of this for me is kind of expanding musically while still representing. Maybe that’s it. Something like that.”
Brad’s H20: Wetter & Wilder II tour heads to Indiana, Ohio and Missouri in the next few weeks. He will also perform this Thursday, June 9, for the first night of CMA Music Fest in Nashville. Keep track of his schedule here.