Lady Antebellum Learned the Ropes as an Opening Act
Lady Antebellum apparently would have no empathy with Mary Chapin Carpenter, who laments the trials and tribulations of a singer warming up an audience for the headline artist in her tune, ‘Opening Act,’ which she performed at the 1990 CMA Awards. Mary Chapin sang about having no sound check, no backstage dressing room and a headline act who doesn’t know she exists, while she pays her dues before an audience who don’t have any idea who she is.
Instead, Lady A’s Hillary Scott has much admiration for the artists they’ve worked with, saying they learned a lot from each of the various situations. The trio is currently touring with Tim McGraw, and have opened for a number of others including Martina McBride and Keith Urban.
“One of the things we’ve seen from these artists it that they give it their all every night,” Hillary tells The Boot. “The other thing is that they take care of their people. We’ve been out on some great tours where they take care of everyone from the opener to the guitar tech. That’s so important to show everyone you care, because many of them work way longer hours than we ever could. I guess what we have taken away from the tours that we’ve been on is how important it is to care of your people.”
Dave Haywood adds, “We’ve always been given the leeway to put on a good show. Most everyone we’ve opened for has allowed us a lot of use of the stage and creative freedom with our set.”
Charles Kelley recalls one of his most vivid memories of the tour with Tim. “He made fun of me not playing basketball with him, he busted me pretty hard about that.” he recalls. “He has this tradition of giving one of his shirts to his opening act. We thought he was joking but his wardrobe assistant said it’s something he does all the time. Sure enough, one day he brought Dave and I a shirt. You have to wonder how this got started. Maybe one of his opening acts needed help with his stage clothes so Tim went, ‘Hey you’ve got bad style, here’s one of my shirts to get you started on the right path’.”
Lady A will have the opportunity to practice what they’ve learned this fall, when they embark on their very first headline tour. The 35-city Need You Now tour starts immediately after the trio have completed trek with Tim. The trio is already selling out shows for the fall tour, having set a record in Augusta, Ga., on June 18, when tickets went on sale for the James Brown Arena show, selling out the 9,000-seat venue in seven minutes. David Nail will be their opening act.
It is likely that the group will draw in a few folks outside the regular country music ticket buyers, as their hit single ‘Need You Now’ has received airplay on pop radio as well.
“When we set out to do this we wanted to be country music,” Dave says. “It’s been exciting for us that other outlets have played ‘Need You Now.’ The way we look at it is if we can bring more fans to country music, that’s great. I think country music is the best music in the world. It’s the most diverse range of authentic and real artists out there. If we can bring people all over the world into this genre then they can learn about these artists and that’s a win for us.”
Lady Antebellum will be in Milwaukee, Wisc., on Thursday, June 24.