In a story that reminds me of Beatle-ologists who played records backwards and used magnifying glasses to pore over album photos, ticket industry writer Jesse Lawrence uncovered a clue in Mr. Brooks‘ emotional appearance this month on Jay Leno’s final episode of “The Tonight Show.”
A “B” emblazoned on Mr. Brooks‘ guitar, the eagle-eyed Mr. Lawrence noted on Forbes.com, looks like the stylized “B” from the Boston Red Sox logo. Perhaps a sign that Fenway Park is on the list of still-unnamed tour venues?
Remains to be seen, as the incremental, buzz-building roll-out of information reminds us that Mr. Brooks, who graduated with an advertising degree at Oklahoma State University, is as much a marketing whiz as he is musical genius.
Wherever he goes, look for repeats of what happened in Dublin — sellouts in minutes, added shows.
And when he comes to town, look for a show like nothing else in country music. Every scruffy, would-be tough guy in Nashville — from Eric Church to Jason Aldean — is welding heavy metal riffs into their live shows these days. But Garth? When they invited him to participate in a KISS tribute album in the 1990s, he was the only act who brought in Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley as his backup band.
It will be interesting to see what the second half of Garth Brooks‘ career looks like when it comes to recording: For a man who has sold so many records and had so many hits, he has not necessarily had a huge influence on the canon of country music.
But on stage, which is where today’s artists make most of their money, he has always been a force.
He’s older, but country fans — all music fans, for that matter — are willing to shell out big cash to see “legacy” acts. The aforementioned Stones, Billy Joel, Elton John, Paul McCartney, The Eagles — they break records seemingly every time they go out on the road.
George Strait, an early inspiration for Mr. Brooks, is 61, and if there’s anyone on the circuit who could steal a little of Mr. Brooks‘ thunder, it’s the “King of Country.” Mr. Strait, a legendary road warrior himself, says he’s retiring from touring, and his last 20 shows are as hot a ticket as anything out there this summer.
Older artists like Mr. Strait, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash have always been welcomed in country, and often afforded an opportunity to make relevant music late into their careers. Look at Cash’s acclaimed twilight sessions with producer Rick Rubin. And Mr. Strait was last year’s Country Music Association entertainer of the year. Again.
The balding Mr. Brooks may look a little older, a little more ordinary compared to matinee idols like Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton — who both are headlining big tours this summer.
But I wouldn’t be surprised if the one-time country superstar comes up with a little 1990s magic: Not just a comeback, but the tour of the year.
Now, how about a show at FedEx Field.