ATHENS, GA. (AP) - There has never been a concert at the University of Georgia’s Sanford Stadium, and after Jason Aldean stages one there next spring, there never will be again.
Aldean made the last of three surprise appearances Thursday at UGA’s Legion Field, where he announced the springtime show and played six songs for a crowd called together under the pretense of a pep rally for the football team.
Recounting his daylong journey across the country, Aldean told more than 1,000 fans in Georgia, “And then we flew to my favorite place on the planet to announce we are doing a show in the cathedral of Sanford Stadium.”
The performance wrapped up a whirlwind day in which Aldean also announced historic shows at Fenway Park in Boston and Wrigley Field in Chicago. The Georgia show wasn’t much of a secret, however, by the time Aldean arrived, as fans and even the university tweeted about the appearance beforehand.
As a kid, Jason Aldean thought he would eventually see his name on a scoreboard at baseball stadiums. He gave up that dream when he turned to country music, but achieved it nevertheless during his appearances at Wrigley and Fenway.
“I have a love of baseball and a love of music,” Aldean said in an interview near Wrigley’s ivy-covered right-field wall. “To kind of combine those two _ not just playing any stadium but a historic stadium like this that has so much history _ to me it’s just unbelievable.”
When Aldean returns to Boston, he’ll be making history. He’ll be the first country music star to play a concert at Fenway Park, the iconic home of the Boston Red Sox. The July 13 appearance will be the initial stop on his 2013 tour.
Aldean made the day’s first announcement with the Green Monster in the background, and with an assist from Red Sox President/CEO Larry Lucchino. Red Sox players David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Jarrod Saltalamacchia welcomed Aldean in a video, and he signed the wall inside the scoreboard, alongside historic figures including Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio.
“Being the first country music artist to ever come here and headline a show is amazing,” Aldean said. “It’s going to be a fun night. Over the last several years, my career, especially the touring side of that, has been pretty amazing. It’s been growing. So thank you guys for having us. I can’t wait for July 13.”
The Cubs gave him a blue team hoodie for the announcement in Chicago, where it was windy, cold and rainy. By midafternoon ,the secret was already out and several fans stood outside waiting for a glimpse of Aldean.
The Georgia native released his fifth album, “Night Train,” this week. That title is an apt metaphor for his career, which has been steaming along on a steep trajectory. About the only thing he hadn’t attained yet was a stadium tour, and he’s crossing that goal off the list.
Aldean is one of country’s top draws, but the stadium tour will move him into rare company. Currently, only Taylor Swift and Kenny Chesney have that kind of drawing power. But the hard-rocking singer has earned the status, selling more than 1.9 million tickets on his yearlong “My Kinda Party” tour that wraps up in Dallas on Oct. 27.
“You think about how long ago he started, you know, playing the small gigs, holes in the wall and honky-tonks. I mean that’s what he did. How do you get here? There’s no logical path. It has to consume you,” said Chris Parr, one of his managers.
Aldean will be joined in Boston next July by Miranda Lambert, Jake Owen and Thomas Rhett. The area has proved to be receptive to country music. Chesney and Swift have sold out Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots, several times and Aldean has drawn enthusiastic crowds at smaller venues.
He’ll be joined on July 20 in Chicago by Kelly Clarkson, Owen and Rhett.