After winning two Grammys and scoring two ACM nominations, our buddies in Sugarland are about to celebrate with a month-long European jaunt that kicks off tonight with two warm-up shows in Athens, Ga. But this April, Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush will be back stateside — and PopWatch has their exclusive! official! tour announcement, like SportsCenter, right now! Aside from already-set dates with Keith Urban and Kenny Chesney, the Atlanta country music duo have added a slew of headlining shows across this fine continent — including a stop at New Orleans’ famed Jazz Fest in May — for what Bush is calling the I Was There Tour, designed to enhance their already-formidable live experience.
"Jennifer and I want people to go home and tell their friends — or even their kids or their grandkids one day — that they were there," he says. "We put a lot of pride in our show, and we’re doing a lot of things this year to create fan culture." To reinforce the uniqueness of each night’s performance, they’ve commissioned limited-edition rock posters for every date from Austin’s Decoder Ring design firm — better known for work with bands like the Hold Steady. Bush acknowledges this poster-a-show concept is something rock giants Pearl Jam established long ago: "Pearl Jam are pros," he says. "These guys have been changing the face of music for a while. Open up and learn from the playbook."
And while he’s mum when it comes to on-stage surprises, Sugarlandaudiences accustomed to umbrellas and glow sticks and disco balls andbubbles should probably expect something special. Bush would say thatthe giant Flaming Lips-style hamster balls the duo rolled out (get it?)in 2008 will probably return; he also says he and Nettles have beenrecording lately, and there will be at least three songs in the set listno one’s ever heard. "We’re chasing down the path that we laid forourselves on the last record, which is chase the songs that you hear,not necessarily the genre or the preconception that you’re in," Bushsays of the new material. Finally, he hints at something he calls "thePower Trio," and says, "You may see Jennifer Nettles play the piano ora bass guitar. I love throwing down the challenge to all the othercountry musicians. Sometimes you have to choose the fork in the road:the entertainer, or the musician. You go down one road long enough, andyou end up Alison Krauss and Union Station. And you go down the otherroad, and you end up Kenny Chesney. Not to say that Alison isn’t agreat entertainer or Kenny isn’t a great musician, but a lot of timesthat was traditionally the choice you had to make. We’re gonnachallenge it, and say, ‘We wonder if you can do both.’"
"Careful what you say in Sugarland," Bush concludes, summing up oneof this band’s adorably fruity mottos. "It might just happen."
Tour dates are below, including opening appearances from BillyCurrington, who Bush calls "one of the most under-recognized voices incountry music"; Matt Nathanson, whose "Come On Get Higher" Sugarlandcovered on last summer’s Love on the Inside; singer-songwriterEric Hutchinson, who Nettles was raving about during Grammy week; and"Life In a Northern Town" compatriot Jake Owen.
More info can be found at www.sugarlandmusic.com.
April 10 – Atlanta, GA The Arena at Gwinnet Center
April 16- Grand Forks, ND The Ralph Engelstadt Arena *
April 17 – Minneapolis, MN Target Center *
April 18 – Bismarck, ND Bismarck Civic Center *
April 21 – Lethbridge, AB Enmax Center *
April 22 – Red Deer, AB The Centrium *
April 23 – Regina, SASK Brandt Center *
April 30 – Austin, TX Frank Erwin Center * ^
May 1 – New Orleans, LA Jazz Fest
May 15 – Orange Beach, AL The Amphitheatre at The Wharf * +
May 16 – Huntsville, AL Redstone Army Base * +
May 21 – Charleston, SC Family Circle Tennis Stadium * ^
May 22- Johnson City, TN Freedom Hall *
May 28 – Omaha, NE Qwest Center * +
May 29 – Kansas City, MO Sprint Center * +
June 4 – London, Ontario John Labatts Center ^
June 5 – Toronto, Ontario Molsen Amphitheatre ^
June 25 – Birmingham, AL Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre * ^
June 26 – Roanoke, VA Roanoke Civic Center * ^
July 8 – Green Bay, WI Resch Center *
July 9 – Ft. Loramie , OH Hickory Hills Lakes
July 24 – Primm, NV Star of the Desert Arena
August 13 – Charleston, WV Civic Center Stadium * +
August 14 – Gilford, NH Meadowbrook +
September 9 – Hidalgo, TX Dodge Arena-STARS Benefit * +
September 10 – Corpus Christie, TX American Bank Center-STARS Benefit * +
September 11 – Oklahoma City, OK Zoo Amphitheatre * +
September 17 – Ames, IA Hilton Coliseum * +
September 18 – Milwaukee, WI Bradley Center * +
September 24 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL Bank Atlantic Center + #
September 25 – Tampa, FL St. Pete Times Forum + #
October 1 – Bloomsburgh, PA Bloomsburg Fair +
October 2 – West Springfield, MA Eastern States Expo +
*opener Billy Currington; +opener Matt Nathanson; #opener Jake Owen; ^opener Eric Hutchinson