WFMS presents the hhgregg Country Music Expo 2008
Blue Ribbon Pavilion, Indiana State Fairgrounds, 1202 E. 38th St.
April 12-13, 9 a.m., $20 per day (or free at pre-show ticket distribution sites), all-ages
A slew of country newcomers and established stars will visit Indianapolis for the hhgregg Country Music Expo 2008, April 12-13 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
Performing Saturday are Whisky Falls, Lady Antebellum, Ashton Shepherd, Jake Owen, Jo Dee Messina and Trisha Yearwood.
Sunday features sets by Jack Ingram, Phil Vassar, Luke Bryan, James Otto, Jewel, Randy Owen and John Rich. Artists are subject to change until they hit the stage.
The event gives fledging country bands like Nashville’s Lady Antebellum a chance to play before industry honchos and country radio fans. And even though their self-titled debut album hasn’t been released yet, Lady Antebellum’s music is getting plenty of exposure — on the radio, the Internet and the road, where the trio has opened for artists ranging from the Doobie Brothers to Martina McBride.
“Opening for the Doobie Brothers was so surreal,” Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott admits. “My dad used to blast their songs on our car radio. And [bandmates] David [Haywood] and Charles [Kelley] are big fans of them too.
“And opening for Martina was a learning experience,” Scott continues. “Every night we were able to watch a true professional at work.”
A couple of years ago, Scott, the daughter of country music artist Linda Davis, met Kelley at a Nashville club, having recognized him from his MySpace page. The two aspiring musicians talked and decided to write some music together.
Later, Scott paid a visit to Kelley, who was staying at the home of his brother, singer/songwriter Josh Kelley. It was on that day that she met Dave Haywood, a friend of Kelley’s who was staying there too.
“I walked into the house,” Scott remembers. “Dave was at the piano and Charles was singing the song that eventually became ‘All We’d Ever Need,’” a song included on the Antebellum’s debut album.
“They were having trouble with the second line in the chorus,” Scott continues. “I helped them with it and five or six songs later, we decided to do a show as a group.”
Not only did Scott, Kelley and Haywood’s songwriting skills meld quickly, so did their personalities, vocal and musical talents. Listening to their songs, it’s hard to believe that the group has been together less than two years.
“When it fell into place, it was magical,” Scott says. “I thought, ‘This is what I’ve been working for my whole life!’”
Being a relative unknown doesn’t always bode well on the road. But the members of Lady Antebellum know that opening shows for established acts gives them a chance to make a name for themselves and add to their ever-growing fan base.
“You have to go out with the attitude that, ‘You are going to know who we are and you’re going to like us!’” Scott says.
Free general admission tickets for the Expo are available at hhgregg and Marsh locations until April 11, but only at specific times and stores: check www.countrymusicexpo.com for more information.