Monday, September 9, 2013 , Updated 4:40 p.m., October 24, 2013
UPDATEDx2: George Strait may end farewell tour at AT&T Stadium in Arlington June 7, 2014
After all these years, the cowboy will ride away.
ARLINGTON George Strait invited the media to AT&T Stadium Monday morning to announce the second and final leg of his farewell tour, which will kick off January 9 in Bossier City, Louisiana, and end … well, Strait’s not exactly sure when. He knows the location: the home of the Dallas Cowboys, which he actually christened on June 6, 2009. But the final date of the country singer’s final tour remains “to be determined” some time after a May 31 concert at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.
Of this much Strait was sure: “It’ll be a hell of an ending.” Pause. “Whenever we do it.”
[UPDATE: Now we know when George Strait will say adios to the road — June 7, 2014, at AT&T Stadium, according to a tweet from the country singer’s Twitter account today. It doesn’t say much more than that, only that “ticket info and special guest to be announced.” But go ahead and mark those calendars now.]
[UPDATE x2: That was not an official tweet announcing the AT&T Stadium date; Strait’s PR folks call that date “speculation” at this point. They say they are still finalizing the last tour date, and that no contract has been locked down. That’s one of the “targeted” dates, but there are possible conflicts. Other sources familiar with the tour say June 7 is accurate, and last month the Dallas Observer made what appears to be a pretty educated guess.
An official announcement is due before year’s end, per Strait’s PR firm. My advice: Write it down in pencil.]
Strait, flanked by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and veteran concert promoter Louis Messina, said wrapping up his two-year-long “The Cowboy Rides Away” tour will be “a little bittersweet” after decades on the road. “It’s sinking in a little more and more every day,” he said, peering out from beneath his black cowboys hat.
For this final leg of the tour, Strait’s invited some familiar names as opening acts — “major headline superstars” themselves, said Messina, who wasn’t just offering empty hype. Among the names mentioned: Sheryl Crow, Vince Gill, Miranda Lambert, Ronnie Dunn and none other than Merle Haggard, who, Strait would later say, was the man who “got me into Bob Wills and Western Swing” with his 1970 record A Tribute to the Best Damn Fiddle Player in the World (or, My Salute to Bob Wills). Said Strait, it seemed only appropriate to invite Haggard and the others — some upstarts with whom he’s never performed, some chart-toppers to whom he gave their start – to his “final blastoff.”
When asked what they had planned for the Arlington adios, Messina said only that it would be “the night of nights. Use your imagination.”
Strait isn’t retiring, of course; he just announced a five-album extension to his longtime contract with MCA Nashville. He said he’s been writing again, in part to quash the sole regret of his career — that he long ago put down the pen and relinquished the songwriting to others. He’ll no doubt play live again as well; after all, there is no such thing as a farewell tour, especially for performers who’ve racked up $300 million in ticket sales in just the past 15 years.
“My plan is to keep doing things here and there, when I feel like it,” Strait said. “Hopefully those opportunities will come along for me, ’cause I can’t see hangin’ it up for good forever. As long as I enjoy it, I’m gonna keep doing it. To be able to end the tour here, like Louis said, it’s gonna be incredible.”
Strait recalled opening Cowboys Stadium in June of ’09, and coming in the day before for soundcheck.
“There as still a lot of construction going on, and Jerry had a hard hat for me I wore during soundcheck,” he said. “But nothing fell on us.”
Jones offered a typically rambling introduction tying together the Cowboys and the cowboy and the past and the present and the stadium and, well, Napoleon.
“George, when I think about the great events that we want to have here in the future absent the ones that we will have in the past, and I’m a guy who thinks the past is as old as Napoleon. I don’t give it a lot of thought. But, boy, am I interested in what happens over the next hour and tomorrow and the day after that. So I’m excited about how we’re getting started with your closing part of your tour. … It’s a privilege to be part of this announcement.”
And, clearly, the one that will follow — whenever Strait actually nails down the date at AT&T Stadium.
The tour dates can be found here.
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