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Alltel regulars return 

Kenny Chesney on Thursday; Gaither Family on Saturday.

COUNTRY CROONER: Kenny Chesney at Alltel.
  • COUNTRY CROONER: Kenny Chesney at Alltel.
A year at Alltel Arena doesn’t go by without a visit from popular country crooner Kenny Chesney and the Grammy and Dove award-winning gospel stylings of Bill Gaither and the Gaither Family. This year, they’ll almost be bumping into each other coming and going. Chesney will headline a concert on Thursday, May 12, with up-and-coming country songstress Gretchen Wilson and rap-rocker Uncle Kracker, Kid Rock’s one-time protege. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $51.50 and $61.50 through the arena box office or all Ticketmaster outlets (975-7575). The Gaither Family Homecoming “Celebration Tour” comes to Alltel Arena at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 14, and features an assortment of performers touring with Bill Gaither and his clan. Tickets are $35.50 through the arena box office and through Ticketmaster. Chesney marks his fourth appearance at Alltel Arena Thursday with a tour that requires 16 semi-trucks to haul the stage, lights and sound equipment –- for comparison, Cher’s mega-setup for her “final tour” required 18 trucks. Chesney, whose hobby is spending his non-recording or non-touring time on his three-story yacht in the Caribbean, brings a relaxed, beach-feel to his performances. Last year, more than 1.2 million fans saw Chesney perform live, second only to Prince’s tour. He’s sold more than 12 million records since breaking on the scene in 1999 and garnered all of the major country music awards. Gretchen Wilson, who Nashville PR folks like to paint as the sound of real country music, made a splash last year releasing the single “Redneck Woman” from the debut CD “Here for the Party.” Wilson sold 4 million copies of the CD and rated as the top-selling debut artist for 2004 in all music genres. Wilson’s next CD, “All Jacked Up,” is due out in September. Chesney and Uncle Kracker are sharing the stage after previously sharing the recording studio together. Uncle Kracker joined Chesney in a duet of “When the Sun Goes Down” off Chesney’s 2004 album of the same name, and Chesney sang on the Uncle Kracker song, “Last Night Again” from last year’s CD “Seventy Two & Sunny.” While Kenny Chesney was pulling them in during all of 2004, Bill Gaither wasn’t doing half-bad himself, hitting Pollstar’s top 20 in concert ticket sales and outranking Rod Stewart, Elton John and Fleetwood Mac with more than a half-million ticket buyers. Bill Gaither, now 68, has achieved legendary status in the gospel world with his more-than-three-decades career. The 2005 Homecoming “Celebration Tour” is a live, in-the-round version of Gaither’s double-platinum-selling video series. Joining Gaither are the Gaither Vocal Band, the Isaacs, Signature Sound Quartet, Jeff Allen, Ben Speer, Jeff and Sheri Easter, Lynda Randle, Ivan Parker, Jessy Dixon, Kevin Williams, Anthony Burger, Mike Allen and more. Saturday’s show marks the conclusion of this three-month leg of the tour. For more information, visit www.gaithernet.com.
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