Before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, Chris Young was gearing up to make 2020 one of his biggest touring years to date. His Town Ain’t Big Enough World Tour was slated to reach a long list of amphitheaters and arenas, beginning in late April and extending through the fall. He’d already announced Scotty McCreery and Payton Smith as opening acts, with more special guests to be announced as the year went on.
But then the virus happened. In March, a quarantine and new social distancing restrictions hit the U.S., and like virtually every other touring musician, Young was faced with a tough decision. He either had to reschedule his planned run of shows or cancel them indefinitely.
Many artists chose to postpone their dates to later in the year or even 2021, assuring fans that the tickets they’d purchased would still be honored at the new shows. However, Young opted to simply scrap his remaining dates and refund ticket-holders. The singer says he doesn’t intend to reschedule the dates originally planned during the pandemic — instead, he’ll work on setting up a new tour when it’s safe to do so.
“I think we’ll start fresh when it’s time,” he tells Country Now. “I think a lot of [artists] who are in the level of arenas and amphitheaters, we’re just gonna have to see. It’s probably gonna be next year. And if that’s what we need to do to keep people safe…”
After all, Young adds, he needs to protect his road family, who are close friends of his, and some of whom are more vulnerable than he is to the virus.
“You know, some of the guys in my band are in their 50s and 60s. My steel player has been around for a long time,” he points out. “So not just my fans at shows, but the people that work with me, who are my road family. I don’t wanna put them in any situation where their safety’s at risk.”
Then there’s the added stress on ticket holders of rescheduling a show during a time when nobody knows what the future holds. Many of the artists who originally rescheduled March dates to later in the summer are now in the position of having to postpone those same shows again, and Young says that’s something he wants to avoid.
“It’s just easier to cancel it, let everybody know that we’ll book dates down the road, and make it as easy as possible, so that people aren’t wondering, ‘Hey, what’s going on,’” he adds.
While keeping everyone healthy is his top priority, Young says that the economic hit fans have taken during the pandemic isn’t lost on him, either. That’s another reason why he doesn’t want to ask fans to reschedule their concert-going plans right now.
“It’s not just paying for a ticket, which can be refunded. [People] travel. They block those days off their schedule,” he relates. “And right now, there’s a lot of people that don’t have a lot of disposable income. Or any at all. So [canceling the shows] was the decision we made, and we figured it would be easiest on everybody.”
That being said, Young knows that fans are missing their summer concert fix this year — and he is, too.
“Make no mistake — I would love to be playing shows right now,” he acknowledges. “I miss it way more than I even thought I would.”
Chris Young’s newest single, “If That Ain’t God,” is out now.