Lady Antebellum, Amos Lee Dazzle for Musicians On Call
Lady Antebellum filled fans in on the meaning behind their hits Wednesday night during the sixth annual benefit concert for Musicians On Call at New York's City Winery. Having volunteered at St. Jude's in Nashville, Lady A's Hillary Scott explained how much the non-profit, which brings live music to the bedsides of patients at hospitals, means to the band.
"We're very excited about helping the cause and raising money," Hillary tells The Boot. "Music is so healing. Whether you're in a hospital bed or you're driving down the road just broken up with your boyfriend, it has such a healing power. What better way than to go into hospitals and equip musicians to sing for these patients who are just looking for a smile?"
Though Lady A have yet to perform at hospitals for Musicians On Call, with a chapter in Nashville, band members Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood say it's a cause they plan to get involved with. "We're not curing diseases or anything, but to be able to put a smile on somebody's face during a tough time can always be a cure as well," Dave says.
In the middle of their first headlining tour, Lady Antebellum performed an acoustic set for the captivated Manhattan audience. "We're doing an acoustic stripped kind of thing which we almost love doing more," Dave explained, "just being able to play the songs in the way that we wrote them with just one guitar and piano."
Pennsylvania-based singer-songwriter and longtime MOC supporter, Amos Lee, opened the show. A cause he's been involved with over the past seven years, the non-profit was first brought to his attention by Helen Leicht at radio station WXPN in Philly.
"She told me about the program when it was first starting out and I was really drawn to it, mainly because it sounds like a winning proposition to me," Amos tells The Boot. "To be able to connect solely on a musical basis; there's no stage, there's no fan fare, there's no prior knowledge. A lot of times, people don't want you in their room so you have to win them over solely based on the music.
"I've done everything from children's hospitals to VA hospitals, and a lot of what I've done is etched in my mind now," he continues. "I've never walked away from anything I've done with Musicians On Call not feeling very moved. I've had some experiences where there was such a change in the room's energy just by being able to go in there with a guitar and sing with them. I've had times when I was singing with the person in the bed and they were singing better than I was. That's always illuminating, when the situation is bigger than everybody in the room."
After a powerful 20 minute set by Amos, Lady A took the stage. "Music and wine are two of my favorite things so this is the perfect evening," Hillary said. "We're gonna sing some songs for you and give you a little bit of back story. We write most of our songs and record some that we don't write, and we'll tell you all about it. So y'all sit back and enjoy yourselves."
Guitarist Jason "Slim" Gambill and keyboardist Jonathan Long accompanied the trio onstage and provided fitting musical interludes to Hillary, Charles and Dave's vocals.
'I Run to You' kicked off their set shortly after 9:00 PM ET and energized the room while 'American Honey' followed suit with beautiful harmonies between Hillary and Charles. After the song, Dave teased Charles for not drinking wine. Fighting a cold, he apologized to the crowd. "Sorry, you're gonna get the raspy Charles today."
Lady A's newest single, 'Hello World,' is a song a mutual friend played for Hillary one night. She then shared it with the rest of the band. "I was so moved by the lyrics that I said, 'We have to record this for the record,'" Charles said. "It's really special to us. I think it's appropriate for what we're all doing tonight."
The remainder of their hour-long set included hits from their multi-platinum-selling 'Need You Now' album, a few older favorites and a solid cover of Tom Petty's 'Learning to Fly.' Hillary introduced 'Can't Take My Eyes Off You,' the second song they ever wrote together, and expressed her gratitude for the success they've received.
"The three of us met and just were writing songs," she reminisced. "We became friends and never thought in a million years that we would be a band and that it would lead to this. It's amazing and we're so thankful."
With beautiful vocals by Hillary accompanied by light guitar strumming from Dave, the song silenced the room.
Quiet for most of the set, after a fan screamed, "I love you Dave!" Charles chimed in, "Dave, you haven't said much. Speak to the people."
"I always get so hesitant when we come up to New York because I feel like everyone's looking at me like a redneck. But that's OK, because I know you are," Dave said.
"Dave, you have a tie and skinny jeans, you're good," Charles joked.
The trio's next song, 'When You Got a Good Thing,' Dave introduced as a track "Charles wrote for his wife."
"I just got married when I wrote this song," Charles explained. "I was looking at our computer. As my screensaver [there was] a picture of me and my wife on the beach and I said, 'I'm going to write a song' in that moment right there and this is what I came up with."
Lady Antebellum ended the night with their first single on country radio, 'Love Don't Live Here' and colossal hit, 'Need You Now,' but not before thanking the audience and Musicians On Call.
"To say we are honored to be here is an understatement. We're so happy to be here tonight and doing what little we can. As my mama would say, 'We're all getting jewels in our crown in heaven for doing stuff like this,'" Hillary said.
With delicate strokes of the keyboard and Hillary's soft vocals accentuated by Charles' singing, the song was the perfect closer.
Longtime Lady A fan Leena Elomar celebrated her birthday at the show. Excited that they played her favorite track, 'Hello World,' she was glad Lady A explained the back story to the song. "As a fan you always wonder what these artists are thinking about when writing these songs, so to hear the background was amazing ... I think that it's great that a well known band is playing for such a great cause. The fact that they're here tonight while they're out on tour speaks volumes."
Watch video of Lady A performing 'Hello World' live in our studio below.