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17 April 2013
Toby Keith: I love this (Tucson) Bar

He was in town for just over an hour for the grand opening of Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill. The restaurant and country music night club actually opened in late December.

Keith spent time with contest winners from Tucson’s two country radio stations — 99.5 KIIM FM and Wild Country 97.1 FM — and answered reporters’ questions before going out into the sprawling 19,000-square-foot venue to perform a three-song mini-set.

Keith, the king of songs about drinking, cowboys and what happens when cowboys get drunk, strode on stage to cheers so loud they spilled out into the parking lot and the Tucson Mall.

“Tucson’s a great place,” Keith told the crowd. “We started this (the restaurants) seven, eight years ago and now there’s 19 of them.”

Keith does not own any of the restaurants, but has licensing deals with the operators.

The crowd’s cheers became even more deafening when Keith sat on a stool and pulled out his guitar. Fans took out their cell phone cameras and held them overhead, creating a giant wave of flickering screens. Keith’s three-song set started with “I Love This Bar,” the song that inspired him to open the first I Love This Bar & Grill, and ended with the audience singing along to his catchy drinking anthem “Red Solo Cup.”

Keith snuck in his Tucson visit before he headlined the 20th annual Country Thunder Festival in Florence Saturday night.

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