Kenny Chesney is returning to the road with a vengeance.
Country music's top touring draw of the decade announced Thursday he will co-headline nine stadium dates next year with the Zac Brown Band, pairing two top road acts.
Chesney had sold more than a million tickets a year for eight consecutive years before taking 2010 off. He filled up his time by making two movies and completing his new album, "Hemingway's Whiskey," which debuted at No. 1 in September.
The singer admitted to feeling the lure of the road while away, but the four-time winner of entertainer of the year from both The Country Music Association and The Academy of Country Music thinks the time off will improve the show his fans see next spring and summer.
"What's going to be different for me is the new music," Chesney told The Associated Press in an e-mail. "When we hit the stage this spring we'll be doing a lot of songs from 'Hemingway's Whiskey,' and our show needed that change. It's going to allow me to really make the set different than it's been and make the show more spontaneous."
Spontaneity is something the Zac Brown Band is known for. The six-piece from Atlanta, which won the 2010 Grammy for best new artist and is nominated for both entertainer of the year and best new artist at next week's CMA Awards, has been one of the hardest touring acts since its breakout two years ago and it's live act has drawn rave reviews.
The stadium tour kicks off March 19 in Tampa, Fla., and runs through the summer. Billy Currington will join Chesney and Brown on those dates and Uncle Kracker will open eight of the stadium shows. Tickets go on sale Nov. 20.
Chesney will announce more arena and amphitheater dates later this year for what he says will be his biggest tour since 2006.
"I really miss certain things about the road, like the first note of every night and the energy that's exchanged between the stage and the crowd," Chesney said. "I'm really fired up to feel that. That moment is what drives me and what I look forward to."
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