Rick Diamond/Getty Images
September 26, 2014 02:05 PM

Sure he plays for 50,000-plus people at a time on his sold-out stadium tours, but that doesn’t mean Kenny Chesney can’t revisit his roots once in a while.

The singer recently shocked fans with a surprise concert at the Georgia Theatre (capacity: 1,000!) near the University of Georgia campus in Athens.

Word of the free concert spread through campus like wildfire and had students clamoring for a ticket to the special show (filmed for CMT Instant Jam: Kenny Chesney and airing Saturday at 10 p.m. ET on CMT). Said one lucky student who scored an in: “I just walked out in the middle of my class – literally mid-class – because I heard the line was getting long. My friend has my backpack but I got a wristband!”

PHOTOS: Behind the Scenes with Kenny Chesney

“It’s been a long time now since we’ve played a show like this,” Chesney told CMT. “It’s exciting. It was this kind of environment where we first learned to love to play music. I think it’s good for everybody to feel this intimate energy even though it’s a very raw, aggressive energy.”

Chesney played more than 20 songs, including old favorites like “Beer in Mexico” (see the clip below) and tunes from his new album, The Big Revival.

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