Kenny Chesney, South Jersey Fans Remember Wildwood Show
It's hard to believe, but it's been seven years since Kenny Chesney played the Wildwood beach on a warm summer night - a perfect night, really.
"That was about the greatest day of my life", Kenny recently told me backstage at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, right before his first-ever appearance in Atlantic City.
Why it so great for Chesney?
He said it was because he and his band really didn't have to worry about anything, but performing.
The "concert" was really intended to just be an online concert for his fans worldwide, with American Express paying the bills.
Oscar-wining director Jonathon Demme ("Silence of the Lambs") was brought in to direct the online production.
According to Chesney, all he had to worry about was playing music. He said usually a venue has rules about how long an artist can play for, but in this case there were no rules. When Chesney and the band got to the scheduled end of the show, they just kept playing. They were having too much fun to stop.
He was asked about an big show on a beach down south. "That was work. Wildwood was just fun."
I remember first hearing about the show, about 4 weeks beforehand. At that point, only a select few local people in Wildwood knew about the show - and they did a great job keeping the news quiet. Chesney actually came to Wildwood and checked out the beach beforehand.
I was first contacted about the show by a representative of Chesney's management team. She brought me into the loop and told me about the online/American Express aspect of the show.
She wanted to know if we could give away a lot of tickets, in the hopes some people would show up. I asked here what was her idea of a lot - and she responded about 100. I came back with a proposal for 10,000 tickets. After some checking and double checking, she came back with an approval. The only possible glitch was - we had to give out all the tickets in the first 3 days after the show was announced. The reason: once the tickets were gone, American Express wanted an emphasis on the online concert.
We did the Cat Country Morning Show live from Wildwood the day we helped announce the concert was happening. We also announced we would give away the first 100 pair of tickets. Rumors spread in the 24 hour hours before the announcement and there was a huge crowd on the Wildwood boardwalk as we announced the show.
The only way to get tickets was from us, or if you were an American Express cardholder and were lucky enough to win their pool. (Yes, some tickets did make it to the internet for sale.)
The next 72 hours were a whirlwind for myself and our Cat Country staff. We managed to do about 40 one-hour stops at locations throughout South Jersey. We easily gave away 100 pair of tickets at each stop - sometimes more. The only crushing fact is that we couldn't give everyone tickets.
Time seemed to speed up and the 3 weeks flew by and we were at concert day! Cat Country broadcasted throughout the day from a few different locations, and it truly was a great day, even before the concert began. People were in a great mood, happy and excited. Mother Nature cooperated 100%! It truly was a perfect day.
As the concert neared people were let onto the beach and they flooded the front of the stage. A colleague of mine (who was very pregnant at the time) and myself walked through the sea of people, and people couldn't have been nicer! It was the perfect crowd.
SIDEBAR: People always talk about the free concert by Chesney. In all honesty, it was free admission, but it was not free. American Express paid the bills so concert goers didn't have to. Again, the perfect storm!
Here's what Veronica Morton had to saw about the event:
I am 28 years old now. Kenny is my favorite singer! I actually went to Laguna in Brigantine to win my tickets. I brought along my best friend and now husband to hopefully better my chances! I ended up not winning but they did! It was the best day ever (next to the actual concert day). My best friend and I ended up getting a hotel in Wildwood so we’d be close. We got there early and waited on the beach forever. For the actual concert it was by far the best one ever and the best Kenny concert I have ever been too (I’ve seen him 6 times). The show went on forever and seemed like it would never end, which I was not complaining about! I will NEVER forget the Kenny beach concert. It was amazing!
Bridget Foley shared these memories:
You were giving out tickets on my birthday June 7. I had taken a vacation day so had time to go to ticket runs, thank goodness... I started early don’t remember what time - didn’t win. Went to another didn’t win. By the end of the day I had followed you guys and waited in line at 8 places before I finally won a pair! At 7 at night. Some of the interns were recognizing me by the time I got them in Brigantine! They were cheering when I finally got them. Lol
That day was awesome but hot! We were positioned against the fence next to the sound booth which was awesome because we had room to our left to breathe. We were chatting with the guys who were working- they were so nice. Gave us water too (helps my friend is a little blonde bombshell). As the concert was coming to a close, I saw them start packing up during the last song. (We could see their set list so knew it was the last song) Then Kenny walked off stage and immediately a phone started to blink. The guy picked it up talked quickly, hung up and told the other guys to unpack. We asked him what’s going on. He said Kenny’s having too much fun- he doesn’t want to end so we’re gonna keep going. We said awesome how long, he said I don’t know we’ve never done this . I don’t know how long extra he played but I know it was longer than an average encore. We had a blast!
Thank you so much to everyone who put it on!! Such a great day!
Matt Kancy remembers the day this way:
This was my first of many Kenny Chesney shows for my wife and I, and tied for best Kenny show (and concert overall) with last summer when Kenny brought out the Eagles and the Super Bowl LII trophy during, “The Boys of Fall.” Kenny’s Wildwood show started a tradition for my wife and I to see him every year he played in the area (didn’t make it to his show at the Hard Rock though). Kenny Chesney is truly my all-time favorite artist, favorite person to see in concert across all genres of music, and the reason why I love country music to begin with.
So, there you have it. Remembrances from the "perfect storm" Kenny Chesney Wildwood Beach Concert.
Following the success of the Kenny Chesney concert, others have tried to replicate the magic. A Tim McGraw concert happened on the same beach a couple years later. Rain dampened the show, but it went on, as scheduled.
The Atlantic City Beach Concert Series also began a couple years later, with many of the shows being very successfully.
Whatever the case, there will probably never be a magically night again to match what happened on the Wildwood Beach on June 20, 2012.
When Chesney was recently in Atlantic City, he pulled me aside and said, "I really want to do another concert in Wildwood."
We're ready, anytime, Kenny. We're ready.