When Kenny Chesney decided to make a bluegrass record on his friend and bandmate Tim Hensley, it wasn't about chart position or units sold. Instead, the Luttrell, Tennessean wanted to capture the magic of the post-show bluegrass jams that fill up the hours following the triple Country Music Association and three consecutive Academy of Country Music Entertainer of the Year winner's high energy concerts.
But sometimes even music that's made for the sake of the song and the sheer joy of playing can find an audience. Certainly it's the case of Long Monday, due January 29: the Cincinnati-born journeyman tenor/guitar player. In less than a month, Rodney Crowell's “Riding Out The Storm” has found a home on over 100 bluegrass radio outlets - and another 100 are expected to come on board in the next 3-to-4 weeks.
“We didn't set out to prove anything with this record,” Chesney says, “beyond how lucky we are to have Tim out there with us, you know. After the show, there's a whole other show that goes on out by the buses as the crew tears down the stage and the sound and the lights. Anyone who ever gets to hear Tim and the guys playing bluegrass songs is in for a real special time - and making this record was in large part about sharing what we get to hear every night with the fans.”
Among the markets playing the lead track from Long Monday are Albany, NY, Tampa, FL, Charlotte, NC, Bristol, VA, Denver, CO, Louisville, KY, St Louis, MO, Detroit, MI, Little Rock, AR, San Diego, CA, College Station, TX and Hensley's hometown of Cincinnati, Oh. Also added on www.worldwidebluegrass.com, “Riding Out The Storm” is impacting globally with plays in Windsor, Australia, Ontario, Canada, Lincoln and Rotherham, England and a pair of Netherlands' outlets.
“We went in to try and reflect the diversity of what Tim does,” Chesney says. “It's about very traditional songs like 'Working On A Building' and more modern things like the Rodney song, but also some newer bluegrass songs like 'Lonesome Dove' and, well, Tim's own 'What A Sight To Behold.' It was a record we made because we wanted to… and the idea that people on the other side of the world are responding to it, well, that just blows us away.”
Hensley, whose been with the man who's spent 13 weeks on the top of the country radio charts this year since 2000, is a veteran of myriad Cincinnati bluegrass groups. He's done extended stints with Ricky Skaggs - where he replaced “Lonesome Dove” writer Carl Jackson, then several years with Patty Loveless. Indeed, Hensley's high tenor is one of the defining vocal elements on Loveless' critically acclaimed return to Appalachia Mountain Soul.
“It's not often you get to move into such a different world,” Chesney admits. “But it's a place I really love… People look at the energy of our shows, and they think they know everything about me, or the band. Fact is I went to Russia with a bluegrass band when I was in college, and this music is something me and a lot of the guys really enjoy.”