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Eric Church Previews 19-Show Residency at His New Nashville Bar: ‘I’m Going to Engage’

Eric Church says fans can expect never-before-heard songs and personal stories when he debuts his new one-man live show, “Eric Church: To Beat the Devil,” next month at Chief’s, his Nashville bar and live venue.

“It’ll be a unique show where I’m going to engage. There’s some funny stuff. There’s some stuff in there I’ve never told,” Church tells Rolling Stone. “Fans can leave there going, ‘I’m getting to hear something that nobody else outside of this room is ever going to get to hear.’”

The 19-show residency kicks off April 5, which is also Chief’s grand opening, and runs through early June in the venue’s intimate 350-seat theater. Coincidentally, “To Beat the Devil” — named after a Kris Kristofferson song — wraps up with three shows over CMA Fest weekend, June 7 through 9. (Church’s freewheeling, musically adventurous set at last year’s CMA Fest polarized fans, leaving him “shocked” by the reaction.)

Church says the idea for the residency was inspired in part by his admiration for Bruce Springsteen’s Broadway production. The country singer-songwriter attended a performance in New York and was struck by Springsteen’s candor when telling the audience that much of what he wrote about racing cars and working in factories was imagined, not gleaned from experience.

“I remember thinking, ‘Man, it would be awesome to be in a setting with people that had helped you build this thing and actually have a level of honesty with them that I can’t have onstage in my normal thing,’” says Church, who plans to talk onstage about playing the Route 91 festival in Las Vegas just prior to a mass shooting, as well as the 2018 death of his brother Brandon. “I want to talk about things I’ve purposely never talked about in interviews. But I can do that in this place, because it’s a safe space.”

The theater inside Chief’s resembles a miniature Ryman Auditorium, the historic Nashville venue located a few blocks west. Church conceived of his venue, dubbed the Neon Steeple and taking up two stories of Chief’s, as a ticketed performance space for artists who want to give fans a show that’s different from their major concert tours. “Sonically, it’s all wood, so it’s built for that,” Church says. “Either it’s an underplay for a bigger artist, or it’s up-and-coming artists that are able to go play that venue in downtown Nashville, in the heart of everything.”

Last summer, Church, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s 2023 Artist-in-Residence, gave two special concerts at the Hall’s CMA Theater. While those shows touched on all aspects of his career, he says they’re different animals compared to what he’ll be doing during “To Beat the Devil.”

“The chronological part of the Hall of Fame show will be some aspect of what this is. But the difference is I’m going to be able to talk about what was happening in my life at the time that I wrote the song,” he says, adding, “There’s going to be songs played for this show that have never been released.”

Church’s last studio release was 2021’s three-part album Heart & Soul. He says he’s currently writing new material but has yet to record.

“I’m a little confused by where we’re at as a format right now. I’m more in an organic mode, as you’ll hear with the Chief’s show: a guy and a guitar, and the stories for that. That’s not what’s happening right now with a lot of what you hear [in Nashville],” he says. “So I’m trying to either settle that internally or just do what I’m going to do anyways — and see if they all follow.”

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Tickets to “Eric Church: To Beat the Devil” will be made available first to premium members of the Church Choir fan club through a sign-up system. Fans can register on March 12 and, if selected, have the chance to purchase tickets March 20. A public onsale begins March 22 if tickets remain. All-inclusive prices range from $99 to $499, with a portion of every ticket sold earmarked for the singer’s charity, Chief Cares. Last week, each of the approximately 40,000 premium members of Church’s fan club received a deed to a physical (and virtual brick) in his Nashville bar, part of Church’s campaign to create a new kind of artist-fan community.

“Eric Church: To Beat the Devil” Show Dates
Friday, April 5
Wednesday, April 17
Thursday, April 18
Monday, April 29
Tuesday, April 30
Wednesday, May 1
Tuesday, May 7
Wednesday, May 8
Friday, May 10
Saturday, May 11
Tuesday, May 14
Wednesday, May 15
Friday, May 17
Tuesday, May 21
Wednesday, May 22
Thursday, June 6
Friday, June 7
Saturday, June 8
Sunday, June 9

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