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The Paisley Patterns

Brad Paisley Is at the Top of the Country Music World, writing songs and smoking cigars
Marshall Fine
From the Print Edition:
Brad Paisley, March/April 2012

(continued from page 4)

“Brad is very sophisticated in his taste,” Marcy says. Adds Sesar, “He can peel back the flavors with the best of them. He could be one of those guys who rates the cigars for Cigar Aficionado. We’re all cigar geeks, really.”

Certain post-show cigars come to mind for Paisley: after a rollicking set in front of a sold-out crowd at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough,  Massachusetts, in August 2010, or following a June 2011 concert at Progressive Field in Cleveland.

“It had been threatening rain all day in Cleveland but we did the show without it actually raining,” Paisley recalls. “When the show was over, we went and sat in the Cleveland Indians’ dugout while they tore down the stage and lit our cigars. And it started to pour. That’s pretty fun—we’d played really well and just got the cigars lit. And we just sat and watched it rain and talked about the show.”

Observes Marcy, “Having those cigars after the show—that’s like our way of spiking the football. There’s always a new tour, always a new song to learn, always a new horizon. But we take those little moments to spike the ball—to give thanks, celebrate, feel proud and then move on.”

“We don’t just casually have a cigar,” Sesar adds. “It’s not taken for granted. It’s always reflective.”

Paisley seconds that notion: “When I’m smoking a cigar, I don’t want to be doing anything else—I’ve got to sit and think. There’s something that feels almost Native American about it. That’s where it comes from, right? It’s our peace pipe; we use it to sit and think about the future and what we’ve just done. It’s kind of a Zen feeling. I look at it like dessert.”

He thought about it enough that he wrote “The Cigar Song,” which appeared on his “Mud on the Tires” album. The tune is a humorous tale of guy who buys himself a box of expensive Cubans and insures them against fire and theft. He smokes them all “one by one,” then submits a claim to his insurance agent: “With a straight face I told him that through a series of small fires/They’d all gone up in flames.”

Paisley has a pair of humidors in the guesthouse and another on his tour bus. Since he’s become known as a cigar lover, concert promoters tend to lavish boxes of premium cigars on him in recognition of sold-out shows: “It’s kind of the go-to, easy gift. Honestly, I’ve probably got more than I need, but don’t tell anyone. You can never have too many cigars.”

When he’s touring, Paisley tends to save his cigar smoking for the end of the week, to preserve his voice: “For me, Saturday night is a good night. If I’ve got a four-day weekend where I’m playing four cities and I smoke one on Thursday, by the Sunday show I’ll be in trouble, if I don’t watch my voice and how I sing.”

He enjoys a variety of cigars, though he favors a Montecristo No. 2 or a Punch Grand Cru: “I like something complex,” he says, “something where the cigar changes throughout. I don’t like that tingly, sore-throat feeling from an overly spicy cigar. But I don’t rely on any one thing. I find CAOs are very consistent—but I’ve got these Cuban Cohibas a promoter gave me for when I’m in the mood for a big, intense experience.”

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