Brad Paisley

  • Brian Chilson

A little after 10:30 p.m. on a Friday night in North Little Rock, big fish are looking enormous on the huge video screens in Verizon Arena and country music’s brand-new Entertainer of the Year is rocking “I’m Gonna Miss Her” while a crowd of 9,688 sings along.

One of his best and most popular songs, it’s the tale of a guy who has to choose between his gal and his favorite hobby, and it’s classic Brad Paisley. So are “Catch All the Fish” (and “drink all the beer”), “Mud on the Tires” and “Waitin’ on a Woman.”

Paisley rolled into town on his H20 tour with pals Darius Rucker and Justin Moore and a string of 18-wheelers that may amply hold his equipment but could soon run out of space for all of his hits.

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Always toting a down-to-earth personality, Paisley seems humbled by his popularity and acclaim, including the new title he earned a week earlier by finally winning the Country Music Association’s biggest award. As part of his performance of the poignant “Letter to Me,” a note sent back in time to himself at 17, he recalled uncomfortable years as a teen and told youngsters in the audience to hang in there, “I’m living proof high school is not necessarily the best years of your life.”