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    Louisville has long been known as a live music town. On any given night, you can find local bands and singers in a bunch of different places. But this weekend, our fair metropolis is home to national acts from across several genres. Friday night at the Louisville Palace, Little Big Town represented the country music scene and kicked off the weekend with flair and pizazz.

    The quartet of Little Big Town is a 10 year overnight success story. Karen Fairchild, Jimi Westbrook, Phillip Sweet and Kimberly Schlapman formed the group in 2000 but didn’t hit the big time until 2010’s “Little White Church.” As an homage to that, if you spent time on an electronic device during the show, you would have been asked if you wanted to log into the wi-fi network called “Little White Church.” That was a fun touch and if it hadn’t been password protected, it would have been overrun with fans who got the reference.

    To get the audience going, the stage crew played the Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars smoker “Uptown Funk,” a song that gets any crowd on it’s feet. As the concert goers partied and danced the lights went out but the song kept going. By the time Little Big Town made it to the stage they were singing “Day Drinking” and it set the tone.

    Even on the Louisville Palace stage, which seems small for modern concerts, the band managed two large video walls that projected light scenarios, flashed words to sing along with and ran video clips from various sources. Everything matched and the choreography to the music worked nearly flawlessly.

    Beyond the visuals, Little Big Town’s forte is their vocal harmony. Everyone takes turns on lead vocals, but the two part and four part synthesis of their voices continues to be the big drawing card when you hear them. In particular, Fairchild and Schlapman sounded angelic when they put their vocals together.

    Little Big Town knew where they were, too. Since they were in Kentucky, they name dropped basketball (especially smart during March) and whiskey. That prompted many in the Palace audience to scream “it’s bourbon!” If you want to get technical, bourbon is whiskey. Little Big Town wisely didn’t choose that moment to correct anyone. Why ruin the fun?

    The duet between Jimi Westbrook and Karen Fairchild, “Your Side of the Bed” was bittersweet and melancholy at the same time. That was made all the more poignant when you realize that Westbrook and Fairchild are also husband and wife.

    “Little White Church” and “Pontoon” were also crowd pleasers. However they mentioned going out in the Ohio on a pontoon which isn’t a particularly good idea considering. Most in the crowd wisely didn’t choose that moment to correct Little Big Town. Why ruin the fun?

    Opening the evening was Lexington born and Paintsville raised singer-songwriter Chris Stapleton. He’s written hit songs for Darius Rucker and George Strait among others. One of his songs went to number one for Kenny Chesney: “Never Wanted Nothing More.”

    He acknowledged that this was a bit of a hometown show for him and that he had plenty of family and friends among the throng inside the Palace.

    His music has the polish of experience, but the stage show left something to be desired. Partially it’s not his fault. He had to perform in front of a black curtain. But he avoided standing in the spotlights and his face was also shrouded in shadow from his wide brimmed cowboy hot.

    He’s about to be a breakout country star so the fans will come to see him. He would do well to step out of the darkness and let the people see him. Especially because there’s no arguing with the music. It’s polished and solid. “Smooth As Tennessee Whiskey” was a standout as was “Outlaw State of Mind.” Curiously, he didn’t perform “What Are You Listening To” which is his debut solo single at country radio.

    Overall, it was a bar setting night for this explosive weekend of music in Louisville. Maroon 5 and Prince are going to have to deliver big time Saturday night to keep the momentum going.

    Photos by: Tim Girton/

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    About Tim Girton

    Tim Girton writes about University of Louisville sports here at and his love for Louisville continues on his photoblog, called This Is Louisville.

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