Blake Shelton threw a little pickin’ party on his record label’s patio Wednesday night – and about 10,000 of his closest fans showed up.
The Voice coach and five-time CMA Male Vocalist of the Year is spending the week in Nashville, celebrating multiple milestones – his fifth anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry, five consecutive No. 1 hits, and the upcoming release of a new compilation album, Reloaded: 20 #1 Hits.
He performed several of those hits for the grand finale of Warner Music Nashville’s popular summer concert series, “Pickin’ on the Patio,” normally an industry-only monthly show, staged on the second floor patio of the Music Row building. Shelton, known for his prolific use of social media, turned the private show into a public bash when he Tweeted details to his followers last week.
A stage was built for Shelton and Music Row streets were closed for two blocks in either direction in order to accommodate the sprawling and cheerfully boisterous fans.
Shelton, 39, took the stage at twilight, looking trim and fit and grinning from ear to ear. Lifting a white Solo cup in salute to the crowd – which included labelmates Brett Eldredge and Hunter Hayes – he said, “Holy hell, look at this! Let me tell you something, this is unreal! I didn’t know what was going to happen and if anyone would show up. We’re doing this for all of you, thank you for coming out. I love you Nashville!”
He kicked off the hour-long show with his 2014 No. 1, “Neon Light.” Later in the set, he went deep into his catalogue, but there was a moment of hesitation.
“I’m looking at this crowd and I see a lot of young people here tonight, I mean really young,” said Shelton. “Here’s why it’s freaking me out: I kind of thought I knew what song I’d do right here, but seeing all these young people in the crowd, I’m re-thinking. I don’t want to look like some kind of old dude. I want to be cool like Luke Bryan. I’m still gonna play this song, but if you don’t sing along to it, I’ll know I messed up and I’m just an old dude. This is my very first No. 1 song, ‘Austin.'”
Shelton needn’t have worried – the crowd sang back every word of the 2001 ballad.
Prior to the concert, an intimate reception was held inside the building to announce the upcoming album and thank the writers, who in Shelton’s view, made his career possible. In brief, but heartfelt remarks, Shelton said, “I’ve been running around all over town this week, running into people I haven’t seen in a long time. It’s been great. It reminds me of how important the whole Nashville community is to me. Sometimes I feel like I don’t deserve this – I’ll take it! – but it’s the writers who keep this going, who are responsible for this. So thanks to the songwriters, to the two million of them in this room who have contributed to my 100 albums.”
He also saluted the producer of his last four albums, Scott Hendricks, saying “Scott, I can’t believe you were so lucky to work with me.” Then, looking towards the back of the room, the recently divorced singer gave a more personal nod to his manager, Narvel Blackstock, who is recently separated from Reba McEntire.
“I want to thank Narvel for being here. Now, I’m not the only biggest elephant in the room,” said Shelton. “He’s hiding in the back not talking about stuff either. So, let’s not talk anymore. Let’s just have some fun y’all. That’s what this is all about.”
Reloaded will be released Oct. 23.
For more on Blake Shelton’s life now, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
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