Eric Church


By Adam Lucas

ORANGE BEACH, AL.—This is a typical night on the Outsiders Revival Tour when Outsiders Radio is on the scene:

Long Island natives and diehard Eric Church fans Tim and Terry began the day unacquainted with Pensacola residents Shaun and Tina. And by the time the night ended, they’d met Eric Church together and were exchanging hugs and promises to see each other very soon. 

It’s all in a day’s work for Kimsey Kerr and Shane Allen, who oversee the channel that is part of XM Radio and is an even more integral part of the Outsiders Revival Tour. It’s Outsiders Radio that programs the music in the backstage Shot Room, plus the in-venue pre-show playlist. That means the channel is the home of the music that comes on between openers Jackson Dean, Lainey Wilson and Church, the headliner and channel namesake. 

It’s very likely the only station anywhere that you can go straight from “Paradise City” to “Family Tradition,” the latter of which had the Wharf Amphitheater crowd singing along in unison ten minutes before Church ever took the stage. It’s pretty simple: if it’s a song to which you’ve ever played air guitar or (even poorly) sung along, you’ll find it on Outsiders Radio.

All of which makes Kerr and Allen smile. But not as much as their occasional job requirement at many of the Outsiders Revival shows: they prowl the parking lots before the show looking for fans in Outsiders Radio shirts or flying the channel’s flag. In fact, that’s originally how they spotted Terry—they saw an Outsiders Radio flag flying from an Orange Beach condominium.

But they couldn’t figure out how to get to it, so they proceeded to the parking lot as planned. And that’s where they came across Tim and Terry, Long Island natives who made the trip to Orange Beach to celebrate their 24th anniversary.

It seemed reasonable to ask them: you know Church is coming to your area next weekend, right?

“Of course!” they said. “We’re going to that one, too!”

That’s the kind of fans they are. “Eric Church’s music has gotten us through a lot,” Terry said. “Anytime I hear ‘Like Jesus Does,’ it just takes me there. That’s me. I’m a long gone Waylon song on vinyl.”

The couple came to Alabama knowing exactly nobody else who was attending Thursday’s concert. It didn’t matter. “We knew we’d find our family,” they said. “That’s what this whole thing is about—the channel, the music, the shows. You can come here not knowing anyone, but it doesn’t matter because the Church Choir and these shows are family.”

Thursday night proved them correct. They struck up a conversation with Florida natives Shaun and Tina while standing in line waiting for the doors to open and formed a fast friendship. And when the Outsiders Radio crew spotted Terry’s shirt and bestowed four meet and greet passes upon her, she knew immediately who she wanted to take with her: Shaun and Tina, her newest friends.

It was the perfect way to make a memory out of the very rare Triple-Down appearance for Church—as you probably already guessed, he’s the only artist of any genre to play three straight dates at the Wharf in 2023. But if Thursday night’s crowd was any indication, Alabama has absolutely no interest in pacing itself. By 4:30 in the afternoon, there were dozens of boats bobbing in the water outside the amphitheater, bars and restaurants in the retail area were packed, and the Ferris wheel was jammed with Church shirts.

The throng was rewarded with another couple of tour rarities. Church played “Some Of It” for just the second time on this tour at a non-festival date, and when “Lynyrd Skynyrd Jones” (who was born in Gadsden, Alabama) appeared as the closer, it marked the first time in 18 months Church had played the song live. How unusual is this one? As Church was introducing the song, which came only after an impromptu full band on-stage huddle, he chuckled at the scene behind him.

“Jeff Hyde is back here practicing guitar,” he said. “That’s how serious this shit is.”

Will Hyde need that same practice on Friday night? There’s no telling. Church noted multiple times during the show that each night of the trio would be different. “Make sure you make very bad decisions tonight,” he told Thursday’s crowd. “Stay out late, do things you shouldn’t do. And then you’ll be perfect for tomorrow night.”

That’s the kind of freewheeling approach that makes it make perfect sense to travel from New York to Alabama even when he’ll be in their backyard next weekend. Terry and Tina hugged when they parted ways—at least until tomorrow. Strangers this morning, fast friends by nightfall, co-recipients of an amazing meet and greet from Outsiders Radio (“He’s taller than I thought,” Tina said), it was all the kind of day that only happens at Church.

“We will,” Terry said, “be friends forever.”