Country kingpin George Strait will kick off his 2005 tour Jan. 3 in Charlotte, N.C., with Dierks Bentley and Amber Dotson in tow. The 19-date run is set to close March 5 in Denver, with the first four

Country kingpin George Strait will kick off his 2005 tour Jan. 3 in Charlotte, N.C., with Dierks Bentley and Amber Dotson in tow. The 19-date run is set to close March 5 in Denver, with the first four shows going on sale Saturday (Dec. 4) via Ticketmaster and venue box offices.

Strait has been one of the most consistently bankable touring acts in country music for the past 20 years. He returned to arena shows in the round a few years ago after staging hugely successful stadium tours with the George Strait Country Music fest.

Managed and booked by the Erv Woolsey Co., the Texas-based artist grossed $25.3 million this year from only 28 shows reported to Billboard Boxscore, 26th among all touring artists for the year.

Strait will be out in support of his two-disc compilation "50 Number Ones" (MCA Nashville), which opened at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 and the Top Country Albums chart. Released in October, the set has sold 1.1 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The hits set's sole new track, "I Hate Everything," recently reached No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.

Bentley has been a road warrior since the release of his self-titled Capitol album, playing more than 200 shows this year, including an opening slot all of Strait's dates, as well as tours with Kenny Chesney and Cross Canadian Ragweed. Released in September 2003, "Dierks Bentley" bowed at No. 4 on the Top Country Albums tally and spawned the singles "What Was I Thinkin'?," "My Last Name" and "How Am I Doin'?"

Dotson, meanwhile, will be out well in advance of her Capitol Nashville debut album. Her first single, "I'll Try Anything," is due early in the New Year.

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