(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that's happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)
"We take care of each other, and we take care of the music." That's what Karen Fairchild told me when I had a chance to hang out with Little Big Town after one of their shows last week. We were talking about what it's like when you grow up together on the road (as opposed to maybe being thrust into the spotlight before you're really ready) and have humble beginnings. How humble? "A fan brought us a picture tonight at the meet-and-great, and it was of us at our merch table years ago. Back then, we would set up our merch. We tore that merch down. There was no other way. We opened up for Martina McBride one time, and she drove off in her bus, and we were still packing up our boxes of merch in our minivan," Fairchild told me. "Sometimes I'd use a made-up name and would call the venue in advance and say, 'Little Big Town is coming to your venue, and they are going to need an eight-foot merch table.' I'd do what a tour manager would do. That kind of thing made us who we are." She also told me about how the four of them have been together for the highest of highs and lowest of lows, like being right there when Phillip Sweet was caring for his daughter Penelopi for the first time and standing with Kimberly Schlapman when she found out her husband passed away. "When you have lived that much life together, it bonds you." Even Sweet said, "We are never too far from those beginnings. We find true happiness in the authentic joy of doing what we do for a living. We loved it in a van. But we love it even more now."