With thousands of fans in Knoxville, consistently exceptional shows over his career, and a 2021 album, Body Language, that we simply adore, there’s no doubt that Blake Shelton’s show in February at the Thompson-Boling Arena will be a memorable one.
Shelton’s “Back to the Honky Tonk” tour—an epic name for a country artist’s tour, if you ask us—kicks off in Nebraska in mid-February, and Knoxville is one of his early stops before he makes his way across the country through the end of March.
The last time Shelton played in East Tennessee was back in March at a concert during “Spring Blake” at Shelton’s Ole Red restaurant and music venue in Gatlinburg (check out the Dining Guide for the good word on the menu). But it’s been quite a while since this many East Tennesseeans got to see him all at once.
Special guest Carly Pearce and country newcomer Jackson Dean will join Shelton on the Honky Tonk tour. Pearce—who has won multiple CMAs and recently sold out her show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville—has her own connections to East Tennessee. She left Kentucky when she was a teenager for a job performing at Dollywood which would eventually catapult her into a successful music career. Dean might be a newcomer, but he has already developed a following. His single “Don’t Come Lookin'” quickly found its way to the top of the charts and on streaming television series, Yellowstone. Let’s give kudos where kudos is due.We caught up with Shelton to hear more about what’s coming up for the country music star in 2023:
Cityview: Why “Back to the Honky Tonk” for the tour?
Blake Shelton: I love a Honky Tonk and played a lot of them in the early days of my career. Some of my favorite memories are playing the country clubs across this country back in the day, so I wanted to bring that whole feel back.
CV: What’s in store for you after you leave “The Voice” in the upcoming Season 23?
BS: I have a new show on USA Network that Carson Daly and I created—we’re also in it with Nikki Bella who is our host. Back in the height of Covid, they had really tight restrictions on who could be on set so there was no audience and a limited amount of crew people, so we had a lot of downtime on set. One day, we were drinking in our dressing room watching TV and we were watching that show “Holey Moley!” and we said this would be even more fun if everyone was drinking! That’s how “Barmageddon” was born.
CV: What is your favorite part about visiting the East Tennessee community?
BS: I lived in Nashville for 12 years and spent a lot of time all over Tennessee, and I love the mountains and people in East Tennessee. There’s so much great music that comes out of that area….Not too long after we opened Ole Red in Gatlinburg, me and Gwen and the boys rented a cabin and stayed for a few days and had so much fun. There’s so much to do for the kids and your surrounded by the mountains. It was a great vacation.
Tickets are still available for the Knoxville show. You can expect to hear old favorites from Shelton coupled with new and catch the star before he leaves weekly public view. He announced in 2022 that the 23rd season of “The Voice” will be his last as a coach.