It’s been one crazy run-up to Brad Paisley’s H2O World Tour, which starts Friday in Virginia Beach. Brad developed an appropriate charitable component for the tour by teaming with Hope Through Healing Hands, an agency dedicated to solving clean-water issues. He put together a Water World Plaza that includes a dunk tank and a fishing simulator. And he built new staging.
Mother Nature, however, got carried away with the water theme. Some of Brad’s set was ruined when Nashville was flooded earlier this month, and he lost many of his guitars, which were in storage. The Bridgestone Arena, where he had intended to rehearse, took in water, and he was forced to wait 10 days to prep for H2O with his band. In the aftermath of it all, Brad was one of the key performers when GAC presented Music City Keep On Playin’ — A Benefit For Flood Relief, and he and Kimberly Williams-Paisley chipped in $100,000 to help kick-start the fund-raising, which currently stands at $1.8 million.
Some of the H2O Tour won’t be quite what Brad had planned — in fact, he even went to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and reclaimed a guitar that was supposed to be on display so he could make it through the tour. Despite the rough sailing, he’s ready to hit the road again.
“When I finally walk out onstage in Virginia Beach, Va., on the first date of the H2O Tour — no need to point out the irony, thank you — it will mean so much more to all of us than any other tour we’ve ever done,” he wrote in a Billboard editorial. “Or probably ever will. I will stand up there more thankful than I’ve ever been for the people in the audience, the band at my back, the crew that makes it happen and the town I’ve never been prouder to represent.”
Plenty of other people will be happy, too. There are the fans who get to attend, of course. And the other acts who are lucky enough to be on the bill with Brad. They include Darius Rucker, Justin Moore, Easton Corbin, Steel Magnolia and Josh Thompson. The latter three will all have slots on their own WaterWorks Stage.
Brad’s noted for building camaraderie with his tour mates. There might be even more than usual with this many acts all along for the ride.
“It seems like we play a lot of shows with Easton Corbin and his guys,” Steel Magnolia’s Joshua Scott Jones says. “They’re fun. I was talking with Drew [Belk], his guitar player, about Frisbee golf. So I think we’re gonna get some Frisbee golf goin’ on. We’ve been on radio tours, and Easton and Josh Thompson have been touring as well on a radio tour. We always joke [that] because we end up doing the same shows, we’ve already kind of started the Paisley tour.”
In addition to the Virginia Beach launch, this weekend will also see a Saturday date in Washington, D.C. As the tour threads through the summer, Brad’s planning his first headlining shows in the United Kingdom and Norway. And he’ll be the main attraction July 10 at an Aquapalooza show on Lake Travis near Austin, an appropriately themed concert where the entire audience will take in the show from boats.