For the past 16 years, Little Big Town has only known how to summer one way. On the road.
“This was the first summer in 16 years that we’ve taken off,” the band’s Karen Fairchild told me Friday (Aug. 21) when Little Big Town was headlining in Chicago.
“And it was what it needed to be. It needed to be about Jimi healing,” she said of her husband and bandmate Jimi Westbrook’s vocal cord surgery this summer that forced the band to sit most of this summer out.
Their break had some up sides, but I wondered what they missed the most about being on the road.
For Westbrook, it was the camaraderie.
“It’s like a big family out here, and we missed that,” he said. “For us not to be there was so different.”
For Phillip Sweet, it was “the simple pleasure of being together, making music together and being in that moment onstage.”
For Kimberly Schlapman, it was the way the road feels like a second home.
“Home is home, but this is, too,” she said.
Fairchild admitted what she missed more than anything was something less tangible.
“You get addicted to that feeling out there,” she told me, pointing to the stage at the Ravinia Festival. “You give when you’re out there, but you also get 10 times more back.
“So then you start to crave that. And you find yourself at home like, ‘Nobody’s clapping for me when I come into the kitchen. There are no fans, no smoke, no fringe,’” she laughed. “But it’s an incredible relationship you have with the fans, and even though you don’t know them all by name, there’s nothing like it. I hope they feel that way about us, too. I hope we’re giving them anthems to their life, because they give us so much joy.”
The band has 33 dates scheduled for the rest of 2015, so that should compensate for all of that joy they missed this summer.