Without question, one of the music's biggest sweepstakes in the weeks and months to come will be speculation on Garth Brooks' impending tour, his first since more or less retiring in 2001. But with his children about to leave the nest and his four-year residency at Las Vegas' Wynn Resort almost up, the Oklahoma-born superstar is getting restless. "It sure feels good to get to throw your hat back in the ring," he said while announcing his plans on Good Morning America last week.
But where would that hat land? A city of Houston's size is virtually assured of getting a stop at some point, but when that might be is anyone's guess. Though he hardly needs to drum up interest, Brooks has been making the publicity rounds of radio stations and other media since his GMA visit, and told CBS daytime show The Talk he's planning for the tour to last as long as three years.
If it's just one show per city, it's hard to imagine a Houston date being anywhere other than Reliant Stadium. But one thing we can rule out right away is Brooks' being part of the 2014 lineup of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, which said earlier this month it will announce next year's entertainers at 11:59 p.m. January 12. That would be a huge surprise all right, but a local date could not come any sooner than this summer, after Brooks' youngest daughter graduates high school. (He has played the rodeo twice, in 1991 and 1993.)
Could Brooks do a concert-only performance like George Strait did to close this year's rodeo? It sounds reasonable -- the demand would certainly be there -- but just as logistically daunting. Rodeo Vice President & Chief Operating Officer Leroy Shafer says that kind of show must be planned for and announced a year in advance to take into account changes in season-ticket packages and other details.
"As for dates in years after 2014, we constantly work with entertainer's agents and managers to acquire available talent to present the best possible show," he added.
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According to the "tour" section of unofficial site planetgarth.com, he visited the greater Houston area twice in 1998 near the end of his last significant trek, a world tour that lasted between March 1996 and November 1998 and featured multiple-night stands in almost every city. He played five straight nights at Compaq Center (formerly the Summit, now Lakewood Church) between April 7-11, and the whole thing came to a close November 19, 21 and 22 at College Station's Reed Arena.
Brooks is also promoting recently released Walmart-exclusive box set Blame It All on My Roots: Five Decades of Influences, six discs and two DVDs of hits, covers and a performance filmed at the Wynn; list price is $24.96. He's also said he'll be bringing wife Trisha Yearwood on tour with him (other acts TBD) and that he plans to be very hands-on in the production design, including a sound system engineered for maximum "thump."
For an artist of his stature -- as in the second-biggest solo recording artist in U.S. history behind Elvis Presley, according to the RIAA -- Brooks has a very light digital footprint. His official Web site is essentially an ad for his new box set, he has no official Facebook page and forget about Twitter. He famously refuses to release his catalog to iTunes, making him the biggest holdout of the digital-music era.
Brooks does have a phalanx of people behind him at Nashville's Major Bob Music, run by Brooks' longtime manager Bob Doyle (who also handles The Band Perry). But Team Garth is not easy to get in touch with. Eventually we tracked down his PR rep's email address through another one of her firm's clients -- an opera singer, no less.
"You have the right place," said Nancy Seltzer, Brooks' publicist. "We wish you a very happy holiday. When we have more information to announce we will put you on our list."
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