The country singer Kane Brown will not lie: He has not developed any new skills during the pandemic. He’s spent a lot of time with his wife and daughter. He’s spent a lot of time in the gym. He oversaw construction on his house, and almost looked into whether he could try building his own home in the future. (That did not pan out.)
But for the most part, he’s been waiting to get back on the road. Calling from Indianapolis, on the first day of the second leg of his Blessed & Free tour, he said it was “crazy” to be performing again, and observed that the feeling stretches to the audience. “The fans don’t know what to think; they don’t know what to do,” he said. “I don’t really have answers for them, or explanations. But we get to play the show.”
Tour life in the time of Covid-19 is different than it used to be. One constant is video games: Brown plays just about all the available sports games, with some “Call of Duty” thrown in for good measure. He doesn’t take much care to hide his identity, which makes for some fun interactions. “I got a big microphone above my head, so a lot of people think I’m a rapper,” he said. “One time, we had these kids convinced I was Lil Baby. But if you click on my profile, it says my name, so then I’ll get a lot of messages like, ‘Man, I’m a big fan.’”
Brown is on tour for the next two months, so those fans will have plenty of time to catch him in the digital sphere. Before the Indianapolis show, we spoke about 10 of his beloved cultural necessities. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.
1. The Madden NFL series One of my favorite memories was Madden 2006, when Michael Vick was on the cover. I got my first PlayStation 2, and I remember sitting down in the basement, just beating my stepdad. The game is really mechanical, but I kind of learned how to play football like I play Madden — just run and get a touchdown. You know, don’t play by the rules; don’t get hit; just run. That’s what I did in real life football, and I guess that’s why I’m sitting on my tour bus today.
2. Elvis Presley Elvis was just his own thing, man. My nana was a huge Elvis fan; I remember she used to have this crazy bedazzled Elvis purse she would take everywhere, that was just his face blown up on a purse. As I got older, I started listening to his music, and if you really listen, he’s not scared to do anything. I find myself trying to sound like him all the time, on “Blue Christmas” or “Hound Dog.” However long this world goes on, he’ll still be talked about.
3. “Ted Lasso” Jason Sudeikis is one of my favorite actors; I just love his dry sense of humor. I see a lot of myself in Ted. I wish I could be more like him, but I love how he’s so optimistic. No matter how much bad news is given to him, he always tries to turn it positive. The team is looking at him as a weird dude that doesn’t know anything about soccer, and he just goes in there and shows everybody his heart. It’s just amazing to me.
4. Steph Curry I remember Curry coming to UTC, a college in my hometown of Chattanooga, and he hit a half-court buzzer beater. I remember everybody saying he was small and overrated, and he was just killing us. To see him go to the league, just destroying the competition, is insane. I did a podcast with him, and I think my favorite part was he brought his daughters in. I asked what they would listen to every day going to school, and they said my song “What Ifs.” It just hit a spot in my heart.
5. H.E.R. I didn’t really know much about her until I met my wife, who was a huge fan. Our first dance at our wedding was “Best Part,” her song with Daniel Caesar. She’s just an amazingly talented vocal artist, and she can play that incredible guitar. She’s one of my favorite collaborators that I’ve got to work with; I feel like she’s another artist that’s going to be around for a while.
6. “Click” I’m a huge Adam Sandler fan, and I actually showed this movie to my security guard last night. The angel of death gives him a universal remote that controls everything, but also controls his life. Every time he uses it, it just keeps fast forwarding. He ends up going past 20 years of his life — he loses his wife, his kids are grown, he ends up getting cancer. He fast forwarded past all the boring parts of his life, and now his life is gone. It literally brings me to tears every time I watch it. If you’re sitting on the couch like, “Oh, I’m bored,” that’s precious time you could be spending with your family. After I watched it last night, I called my wife; my security guard even called his wife. We just said, “We love you.”
7. “Sesame Street”When I was a kid, Elmo and Cookie Monster were the main two characters for me. I didn’t expect to ever meet or film with them, but I got to do it last year. It was cool to see how they did it; they really make you feel like the characters are alive. I got to watch it with my little girl Kingsley, and you know, she just looks up to me and she loves Elmo. So for her to see her daddy with Elmo, it was one for the books.
8. “Yellowstone”I fell in love with the TV show “Yellowstone” so much that my wife told me I need to go outside and do something. So I bought full cowboy gear and went to Lowe’s to buy some wood to build a treehouse. [Laughs] The story’s amazing; the music’s amazing. My nana always took me to rodeos, growing up. I used to mutton bust, and I used to chase the cows and try to get the ribbons off their tails. She also took me to a lot of pow wows, so to see the Native American culture that’s also in there — it’s just another part of my life that I really like watching.
9. His first home in Mount Juliet, Tenn. I never really grew up in a steady home; I was always moving around, moving in with friends or different apartments with my mom. I was always grateful to have a roof over my head, but we never knew if we were going to stay there long, or what was going to happen. Before this house was built, we kept going there, and being like, “This is our new home.” Thinking about what we were going to put in there, I really felt like an adult. It was a huge, life-changing moment for me. Fast forward, we have a new home that we’re expanding on because I just had another kid. It’s amazing to give them things I never had growing up.
10. Madison Square Garden The first time I went there, I watched the Knicks play Boston. The next night I was playing the Hulu Theater, so I didn’t actually get to play Madison Square Garden, but my dream was always to go to the big arena across the street. We actually get to do it this year; I think we’re even shooting a documentary. When you think about all the names that have gone through there, it’s just like: “I’m a nobody artist from Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., and I’m actually going to be headlining the arena that they’re all talking about.” It’s mind blowing. I can’t even think about the jitters; I just know it’s going to be a good show.