ACM

Country Spotlight: Thompson Square

May 18, 2012 at 12:09 pm , by

Shawna and Keifer entertaining the troops here at LHJ. Be sure to watch their performance clip, after the jump.

They may have just been crowned the Academy of Country Music’s Vocal Duo of the Year, but Thompson Square certainly flexed some potential Entertainer of the Year muscle when they visited us here at Ladies’ Home Journal a few weeks ago. Shawna and Keifer Thompson not only impressed the room with an intimate, stripped-down set of their hits (be sure to check out the video after the jump), but they also earned an instant, easy rapport with the staff and kept us all in stitches with their hilarious stories and banter. (One coworker enthusiastically emailed me her review after their performance: “It was like a 2-for-1 show—music and comedy!”)

Still, when the husband-wife act landed in Las Vegas last month for the ACMs, they were—to hear them tell it—feeling like long shots. “You’re going up against Sugarland and they’re kind of like the new Brooks & Dunn,” explains Keifer, giving props to the two acts that have dominated the Vocal Duo category since 1991. “We’ve been around a couple of years, but it’s really just been a year and a half that we’ve been in the thick of things. We figured it might take us four more years to even get close.” But luck proved to be a lady—and her husband—that fateful night: T2 hit the country music jackpot and became the first new act to take top honors in the duo category in 20 years.

“It’s hard to process all that’s happening. Just hearing you introduce us in there and saying we’re the Vocal Duo of the Year, it’s weird. It’s a strange feeling,” Shawna admits. “I kind of compare it to getting married,” Keifer adds. “You think you’re gonna have this amazing feeling come over you, like, ‘Oh, we’re married, and this is what it feels like when you’re married.’ But it doesn’t work that way. It probably took us 10 years for us to finally feel like a married couple. And that’s how all of this feels. None of it feels real. It’s truly a dream come true.”

While Keifer and Shawna remain incredibly humble, the award is far from being undeserved. Their breakthrough single “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not” was the most played song on country radio in 2011 and they’ve taken home three American Country Award wins plus multiple Grammy and CMA nominations in the past year. And in a few weeks they’ll be vying for two CMT Music Awards, with a double nomination (for both “I Got You” and “Glass,” their latest release) in the Duo Video of the Year category.

“We don’t have any kids but I’d imagine it’d be harder to say that one’s better than the other,” says Shawna, finding it difficult to play favorites with her video creations. Keifer is equally as torn, but ultimately does reveal a preference. “I thought ‘I Got You’ was a brilliant video. [Director] Wes Edwards did a fantastic job of putting that whole thing together and it was so different,” he says. “ ‘Glass’ is our new single and you want that one to win, too, but from an aspect of what deserves to win? ‘I Got You.’ Hands down.”

Whether they come out on top at the awards show, a win is definitely headed fans’ way when the duo heads back into the studio later this month to work on new music for their next CD. “We actually got about 16 things demo’d and we’re going to start to put some tracks down in preproduction,” Keifer says, noting that there will be a more diverse range of material on the new album than on the first. “We’re gonna have some really beautiful ballads, which we don’t really have on the current album—except for ‘Glass.’ We were just really scared about being pigeonholed with that whole ‘hokey married couple’ thing on the first record.”

The CD will still be rockin’, though, Shawna promises, proving she’s learned some lessons on the road from all of the extensive touring T2 has done. (Currently, T2 is opening for the red-hot Lady Antebellum Own the Night tour.) “It’s hard when you’re a new artist to go out and play new songs for people that aren’t familiar with you,” Shawna explains, “so it’s important to have some energy. When fans come to our show, they’re going to hopefully have a good time and rock out with us.”

For now, you can rock out with Thompson Square by viewing their fun-filled LHJ performance after the jump. You’ll also find some highly entertaining bonus interview moments, in which I get their he said/she said take on everything from KISS-ing on the ACM red carpet, what drives them nuts about each other and why Keifer may start following Blake Shelton’s lead on Twitter.

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Country Spotlight: Little Big Town

February 9, 2011 at 3:52 pm , by

promoWhat’s better than getting one of those fancy giveaway bags that they’ll be handing out at this Sunday’s Grammy awards? In our humble opinion here at LHJ, it’s having nominees Little Big Town visit your office and strip down three songs off their latest CD, The Reason Why. We were beyond thrilled that the band—Kimberly SchlapmanJimi Westbrook, Karen Fairchild and Phillip Sweet—could join us, as they were also busy rehearsing for their high-octane performance of “Little White Church” with the Roots on last night’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Still, they poured their hearts and soul into their acoustic takes on “You Can’t Have Everything,” “All the Way Down” and “Lean Into It,” which still has staffers stopping me in the kitchen and saying how much they were moved by the song about gritting your teeth, taking your licks and facing adversity head on.

“We were writing the record and we were talking about this great journey that we’ve had as a band,” Fairchild told us about the creative process behind “Lean Into It”, “and how much perseverance it takes just to do the things that we’ve been able to accomplish. Our producer [Wayne Kirkpatrick] played this beautiful hook and then we started thinking about our families and just what’s going on in the States, with people really struggling. So this is kind of our gift back to our fans, about keeping the faith and pushing through.”

As for the instantly addicting “All the Way Down”? “It was just a lot of fun to write and it’s a lot of fun to sing live because, even if people haven’t heard it, they’re usually singing along by the end of it,” Schlapman reveals, with Fairchild quickly adding, “Especially if they’re drinking at a festival. They think they know it!”

Check out LBT’s upcoming tour dates and if you’re lucky enough to live in a city where they’ll be performing, do make a point of catching them. They do not disappoint out on the road.

In the meantime, here’s hoping “Little White Church” will lead these four down the little red carpet this Sunday and right up onto the Grammy stage to grab the Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group trophy. And if you’re still in the rooting mood, the band vies to become the Top Vocal Group of the Year at the Academy of Country Music Awards on April 3.

So what do you think? Does Little Big Town deserve to take home the Grammy this year? Let us know what you think!