Little Big Town returns to Park City for New Year’s Eve show
December 27, 2011
Back in August, the country and Americana quartet Little Big Town made its Park City debut at the Snow Park Amphitheatre at Deer Valley.
The group Phillip Sweet, Kimberly Schlapman and married couple Karen Fairchild and Jimi Westbrook played to a roaring audience, and fell in love with the town.
In fact, the four musicians couldn’t wait to return, so they booked a show for New Year’s Eve at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.
"Summer was awesome," Sweet said during an interview from his home in Nashville, Tenn. "Park City is a beautiful town aesthetically speaking, and the people are great. So we were excited to come back in the winter to ski and see the city in a different season.
"Seriously, we have been pumped about coming back to Park City since we left," he said. "Hopefully it will be nice and white."
When Little Big Town plays Saturday, there will be some changes in the set list.
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"I mean, it will be New Year’s Eve and you have to bring a little something extra," Sweet said with a laugh. "People are ready to party and of all times of the year, New Year’s Eve is the ultimate time to do that, so we’re going to give it our best and hopefully not too many people will get hurt."
For the past few months, the band, when not touring, has kept busy with the "Scattered, Smothered and Covered" video series that features Little Big Town covering other artist’s songs.
A couple of the covered tunes include Lady Gaga’s "Born This Way" and Maroon 5’s "Moves Like Jagger."
"The videos started as a fun and creative idea from one of the people who work at our record label, Capitol Records," Sweet said. "She has done a lot of social media work and told us that people wanted to hear us doing some cover songs."
So, the band tried out a few tunes and the concept caught on with their fans.
"During a meet-and-greet session, one of our fans talked with us and asked us if we would think about doing a Lady Gaga song and make it into a country song," Sweet said.
The four decided to try "Born This Way."
"We had to take the song and undress it and put some new clothes on it, in a way," Sweet said of the process. " We stripped it down and made it into a bluegrass piece and it sounded fun."
The back-up band worked out the arrangement and the group decided to record it in one take.
"What could be more crazy than that?" Sweet said with another laugh.
So far, the concept has been a fun experiment for the band.
"The last song we have done so far is ‘Moves Like Jagger,’" Sweet said. "That was fun because even our manager told us he didn’t know how we were going to make it sound like us, but we did it and made it our own."
Sweet, whose own influences include Ray Charles, Michael McDonald, Vince Gill, Glen Campbell and Steve Wariner, found the video series has not only opened Little Big Town to some new music and challenges, but also exposed the group to different people.
"They may like Maroon 5 and want to see the video, so they’ll go online and type in ‘Moves Like Jagger’ and then our video will come up and they may click on it," he said. "It’s a different way of reaching people."
While projects like the "Scattered, Smothered and Covered" video series, shows a fun side of the band, is all part of Little Big Town’s concept of perfecting its art.
"We want to be great musicians, but we know we’re also students of music and we always will be," Sweet explained. "The best musicians I’ve always admired have said that they always learn new things and that’s what we want to do."
Currently, the band doesn’t have any songs in mind to cover, but would like to see if a Beatles song would lend itself to the idea.
"We also may do a throwback song someday," he said.
Meanwhile, Little Big Town is enjoying the fact that the group’s song "Shut Up Train" was chosen by Country Music Television as one of 2011’s 30 best songs.
"It’s cool to be recognized for things we do, but not in an egotistical way," Sweet said. "It feels good that someone would recognize us for something we did, and that encourages me to push myself to make better work.
"In fact, we’ve been writing new songs and will be recording a new album after the holiday break," he said.
Still, Sweet looks forward to New Year’s Eve, whether the band plays or not.
"With my family it was a loud late night," he said. "Midnight is when the party kicks into another level and I was blessed to belong to a family that likes to have a good time and it was always something fun.
"If I’m not performing and we have a New Year’s Eve off, which is rare, actually, I will go to friends’ and family parties and watch the fireworks," he said. "I just like to have a good time and do what everybody else does and kiss my lovely bride, but we’re sure looking forward to Park City."
Little Big Town will perform a New Year’s Eve concert at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, Dec. 31. Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets range from $25 to $150 and available by visiting http://www.ecclescenter.org or by calling (435) 655-3114
During the Little Big Town concert at the Eccles Center on Saturday, Dec. 31, the Park City Performing Arts Foundation will hold an opportunity drawing for a to-scale bronze maquette of one of the two statutes, "Dance of Love, Dance of Life" and "Rock Star," by Bob and Jo Wilfong, that are on display at the Eccles Center. For a $100 donation, donors will receive a pair of bronze tickets to a PCPAF show and a chance to win one of the maquettes. Only 500 chances will be offered, and four patrons will be selected. To enter, call (435) 655-3114 or visit http://www.ecclescenter.org.