OFFSTAGE: Little Big Town Recall First CMA Music Festival Gig

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

In 1999, Little Big Town played their first CMA Music Festival, but they only played two songs and only had one guitar. And they opened for Wynonna. The band told CMA Close Up a lot has changed since then, especially now that they are the official hosts of the CMA Music Festival: Country’s Night to Rock airing Monday (Aug. 12) on ABC. Phillip Sweet recalls praying they wouldn’t break a string on their acoustic guitar during their initial appearance. “That was a big worry,” said Karen Fairchild. “‘What if we break a string? Do you think Wynonna would let us borrow a guitar?’” And when Kimberly Schlapman looks back on that first time, she remembers fans taking photos and how short the line was 14 years ago. “And that photo line that comes up to the front of the stage is so much fun to watch because we remember when we had those very few fans in the very beginning, and they’re usually there, coming through and waving at us,” she said. The band didn’t say which two songs they played when they took the Tennessee State Fairgrounds stage in 1999. Their breakout hit “Boondocks” wasn’t released until six years later, so they couldn’t have played that. Maybe they played cover songs? Maybe they played “Don’t Waste My Time” and “Everything Changes,” two singles that were on their debut album. If you were there and remember, let us know. My curiosity is piqued.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.