Aldean gives first in­ter­view since shoot­ing

Singer on NBC show de­scribes Oct. 1 chaos

Las Vegas Review-Journal - - MORNING BRIEFING - By John Katsilometes Las Ve­gas Re­view-journal

At first, Jason Aldean thought the pop­ping he heard through his in-ear mon­i­tor on Oct. 1 was a tech­ni­cal glitch, pos­si­bly a blown speaker or faulty amp.

He was trag­i­cally mis­taken. “Re­ally, all you can hear is the mu­sic and the guys who can talk to you on­stage on mi­cro­phones back­stage,” Aldean said Tues­day morn­ing on NBC’S “To­day” show in his first in­ter­view since the Route 91 Har­vest fes­ti­val in Las Ve­gas. “When it first hap­pened, I thought a speaker had blown. It sounded like a crack­ling … some­thing, and I’m look­ing around try­ing to fig­ure out what it is.”

Then it stopped.

“I thought it got fixed, and I just kept do­ing my thing,” said Aldean, who was per­form­ing the song

“When She Says Baby” as gun­fire erupted. “Then it started again, and it was longer the sec­ond time. Then I was ac­tu­ally kind of get­ting ag­gra­vated. I was look­ing at the mon­i­tor guy, off to the side of the stage, as if to say, ‘Fix it.’ “

Aldean soon re­al­ized the bursts were more se­ri­ous be­cause of the alarm­ing ac­tiv­ity on­stage.

“When I turned to look, my gui­tar player had run be­hind me and was telling me to ‘move, let’s go,’ ” Aldean told “To­day’s” Sheinelle Jones. “My se­cu­rity guy was run­ning on­stage telling me to run.”

Aldean sprinted from the stage, still car­ry­ing his acous­tic gui­tar.

“Ev­ery­body was scram­bling,” Aldean said. “You didn’t know what was go­ing on. Panic was prob­a­bly the best way I can de­scribe it. You didn’t know where to go, what to do in that sit­u­a­tion. I’ve never been in that sit­u­a­tion, you know? Ob­vi­ously no­body else out there had, ei­ther.

“It was just crazy. Pan­de­mo­nium.” Aldean and his band and crew were un­harmed. He left Las Ve­gas im­me­di­ately to re­turn to his home in Nashville, Ten­nessee. He per­formed Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” to open “Satur­day Night Live” on Oct. 7, then re­turned to Las Ve­gas the next day for a visit to Univer­sity Med­i­cal Cen­ter, joined by fel­low coun­try star Dierks Bent­ley.

Aldean was among the star per­form­ers Sun­day at the Coun­try Ris­ing Con­cert at Nashville’s Bridge­stone Arena, which raised more than $4 mil­lion to ben­e­fit shoot­ing vic­tims.

“It’s been a rough cou­ple months for us up here, and it’s a lot of fun to get back out and play for the peo­ple who mat­ter, which is you guys,” Aldean told the crowd. “I love get­ting up every day and play­ing mu­sic, and I’ll be damned if any­body out there will ever stop me from do­ing that.”

Mem­bers of Lady An­te­bel­lum, When I turned to look, my gui­tar player had run be­hind me and was telling me to “move, let’s go.” who also per­formed in the Coun­try Ris­ing lineup, joined Aldean for the seg­ment. Aldean re­it­er­ated his resolve to use the event to pro­mote unity.

“I feel like at the end of the day there’s so much fo­cus on, you know, pol­i­tics and race and all th­ese other things,” he said. “We’re all in this to­gether. We spend so much time ar­gu­ing with each other and not enough time, like, work­ing on the is­sue that’s re­ally the prob­lem.”

That night in Las Ve­gas will al­ways be part of Aldean’s ca­reer and life story.

“We have to move on, and I have to do that as well. But it’s some­thing I’ll never for­get,” Aldean said. “I just hope ev­ery­body can start to heal. Some of this stuff you never get over. But I hope it gets bet­ter for ev­ery­body as time goes on.”

John Katsilometes’ col­umn runs daily in the A sec­tion. Con­tact him at jkat­silometes@re­viewjour­nal.com. Fol­low @john­nykats on Twit­ter, @ John­nykats1 on In­sta­gram.

Sue Ogrocki

The Associated Press Coun­try mu­sic artist Jason Aldean ap­peared Tues­day on “To­day,” giv­ing the NBC pro­gram his first in­ter­view since the Oct. 1 mass shoot­ing on the Strip.

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