PT. 2: BACKSTAGE AT CMA FEST WITH LITTLE BIG TOWN’S KAREN FAIRCHILD

PT. 2: BACKSTAGE AT CMA FEST WITH LITTLE BIG TOWN’S KAREN FAIRCHILD

Our conversation with Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town resumes in this second installment of her CMACloseUp.com interview. In Part 1, she shared some background on her group’s second stint as hosts of the three-hour “CMA Music Festival: Country’s Night to Rock,” which ABC Network Television will air beginning at 8 PM ET/7 PM CT on Tuesday, Aug. 5. This time around, she pulls the curtain a little further back and takes us deeper into the backstage action.

With all that you and the rest of Little Big Town did in hosting the Festival special, playing your own set at LP Field and staying busy throughout all four days of CMA Music Festival 2014, you must not have had a moment to breathe!

You just switch on and go, go, go. If somebody is a little panicked or unnerved about a certain segment, we have each other, going, “No, it’s gonna be cool. You’re fine. Enjoy it.” The chemistry between the four of us is really good in that regard, keeping each other up and focused. We have a great team of people around us that keep us going and make sure we know where we’re going next, or make sure you have your script in front of you, or get you something to eat or a hot tea or a coffee. We drank a lot of coffee that week. We’re big on rehearsing and being ready so we can enjoy the moment and make it feel a little more spontaneous.

Did all of your hosting activities force you to prepare for your performance at LP Field differently than you usually do?

No, because we protect that time. Robert (Deaton, executive producer) doesn’t want anything to get in the way of the performance, because the music is what the show is about. So we all blocked out the time. I think Phillip (Sweet) had a bit right before our set; he had to get into the dressing room to change clothes, get warmed up and be calm before we hit the stage. So we protected a 20-to-25-minute window of getting ears (ear monitors) on and getting ready to run out there, especially because we were debuting a couple of new songs. There was music to remember, things that we hadn’t done before, that we really needed to focus on. We just huddled together in the dressing room, said a little prayer and went to the stage.

It rained on the night that you performed.

It was like a monsoon on Saturday night! But the fans stuck it out. They had their raincoats on. Keith (Urban) went on, I think, at midnight, because I went back out and sang with him around 12:30. And the fans were not gonna miss that. It was so great.

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Little Big Town with George Flanigen backstage at the 2014 CMA Music Festival in downtown Nashville at LP Field. Courtesey of Little Big Town

Did the rain affect your shooting schedule?

It moved some pieces to another night. One time, I ran side-stage to do a quick interview, and we had to change location because of the rain. But pretty much, it went smoothly all week. I can’t say enough about how easy Robert and George (Flanigen, co-producer) make this for the artists and everyone else. It’s organized, inspired, creative, great direction. And they always have a Plan B in their heads, so they know that if something is going to go wrong, they have something else they can do.

I expect you’ll be watching DVDs of your work as CMA Festival hosts for a long time with your kids.

Oh, we will, for sure. Our kids got to come on Saturday night. Elijah wanted to see Luke (Bryan) sing. That’s all he cared about – until he saw Florida Georgia Line. They know Keith from touring. It’s so much fun that they get to see the artists that they love, and then there’s Mom and Dad! Don’t worry, we’re going to save our copies of this and be bragging on it for a long time.

Check back at CMACloseUp.com next week for more inside perspective on “CMA Music Festival: Country’s Night to Rock,” from producers Robert Deaton and George Flanigen.

Top Photo: Little Big Town performs at LP Field on Saturday, June 7 during the 2014 CMA Music Festival in downtown Nashville. John Russell / CMA