Little Big Town plays SEMO District Fair, the bands fourth gig in three years in Southeast Missour

Friday, September 11, 2009

Little Big Town just can't stay away from Southeast Missouri. The country foursome will play a SEMO District Fair concert Thursday night, its fourth concert in Southeast Missouri in the past three years.

"We love your area," band member Kimberly Schlapman said.

The band previously played a sellout show with Martina McBride in the Show Me Center in 2007, another sellout concert there with Sugarland in April 2008 and played the Sikeston Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo the same year.

"People in your area seem to be real country music lovers," Schlapman said.

The country sound of Little Big Town comes as a bit of a throwback. Schlapman, Phillip Sweet, Jimi Westbrook and Karen Fairchild all harmonize on the songs. One person might sing a verse of the song, but the group comes in for the chorus, setting it apart as an obvious collaborative effort of Little Big Town.

Schlapman and Fairchild met at college in Alabama and eventually moved to Nashville, Tenn., where they both pursued solo country music careers. Over lunch one day, they decided to join forces and find two male voices to make a foursome -- something they both thought would set them apart in country music.

"It took us a really long time to find both of the guys," Schlapman said.

After more than a year of looking, Schlapman, Fairchild and Westbrook sat down in Schlapman's living room to sing with Phillip Sweet.

"Instantly we knew that was exactly the sound we had dreamed up," she said.

That sound has carried them through almost 11 years on the music scene and into their third album, "A Place to Land," released in 2008.

The group sings a few songs written by other people, like "Life in a Northern Town" and "Firebird Fly," but Schlapman said they have always written their own songs as well.

"I think maybe we couldn't find exactly what we were trying to say singing other people's songs," she said.

Schlapman said she loves all of the songs they play but is especially fond of "Vapor" from "A Place to Land."

The group harmonizes, "I want to drink in every minute that I can/'Cause life is a vapor/Fire and paper/Gonna make the most of it/Before it's gone."

"We've all lost people in our families that we're very close to," Schlapman said. "That song is really, really meaningful to me."

The group has been through the deaths of Schlapman's husband, Westbrook's father, a divorce and other personal and professional tribulations.

"We've walked through them all together," Schlapman said. "When I lost my husband, the other three members of the band carried me through that."

While some of Little Big Town's songs take it light, like "I'm with the Band," most of them talk of love, losing or life's issues. "Evangeline," also from "A Place to Land," talks about domestic abuse.

Schlapman said no one in the group has experienced abuse, but "we hear so many stories of women who were going through that or just got out of that."

Concertgoers at Thursday's show will probably hear "Evangeline" and other hits from the band's new album but also some of their fun, older songs.

"'Boondocks' is always fun because the crowd always sings along," Schlapman said. "Our show is a lot of fun. It's great for families. That's our favorite part of our job."

The Little Big Town show starts at 8 p.m. on the grandstand. Tickets are $32 and $27 and include fair admission if bought in advance.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: