Concert lovers usually only have to choose one headliner per show. But country music fans got their money’s worth this year when Little Big Town and Miranda Lambert teamed up for a co-headlining tour. The artists rose to fame in the early 2000s and are now musical powerhouses that span multiple genres and fan bases.
Lambert and Little Big Town have three Grammy Awards together and many more nominations. . Not to mention the countless Academy of Country Music and CMT Music Awards both acts have won. Each undoubtedly brings pure talent and high-octane entertainment to the stage. But behind the scenes it’s just as much a party, Little Big Town shared.
Lambert and Little Big Town teamed up in May and June for a 15-stop “Bandwagon” tour across North America. It was the second iteration of the tour: the two acts had a previous tour of the same name in 2018. This time each act played their own sets for about an hour each and then combined with their full bands for a star-studded, rocking final set, covering each other’s music.
Little Big Town began in 1998 with college friends Kimberly Schlapman and Karen Fairchild. They were later joined by Jimi Westbrook and Phillip Sweet to complete the group. They’re known for their flawless four-part harmonies that complement ballads like “Better Man” and rollicking tunes like “Little White Church.”
Lambert rose to fame with offbeat rocker hits like “Kerosene” and “Gunpowder & Lead.” But she does hint at a sentimental side with “The House That Built Me” and “Tin Man.” According to Taste of Country, the musical acts have collaborated on several occasions and have become songwriting partners over the years. LBT can also be heard on Lambert’s 2014 single “Smokin’ and Drinkin”.
The many years of working and working together has meant that this year’s tour was particularly enjoyable backstage, the members of Little Big Town shared. Touring with Little Big Town means traveling with their children (there are four children among the bandmates). While the band members sometimes have to be more reserved about respecting the creative processes of other people they’re touring with, they said touring with Lambert is a lot more light-hearted.
Kimberly Schlapman said Lambert’s “vibe” on tour was similar to hers. Kids might be running around and every day might be different when they’re touring with Lambert, Fairchild added in the Spout podcast interview. “Miranda is just as crazy as we are. Crazy in a good way,” she said. “We might end up in a pool all day before the show or writing a song. She’s used to our snotty-nosed kids. It feels like family.”
According to a review by NJ.com, the close relationship between the artists is evident on stage. “The playful friendship clearly shared between Lambert and LBT members … was palpable as they performed almost arm in arm, poking each other and laughing at inside jokes,” wrote reviewer Bobby Olivier. In a later interview with Smooth Radio, Westbrook said the tour left an impression on them as band members as well. “Musically, it’s one of our favorite things we’ve ever done,” he said.
Little Big Town and Lambert are now in the middle of separate projects. LBT have just released their tenth studio album, Mr Sun, mid-September. The group has released singles including “Hell Yeah” and “Rich Man” from the album composed primarily during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This album has a special feeling. We went through an unprecedented time together making this album,” Sweet said, according to Billboard. “Life is short; we are here to live it with those around us, loving them and ourselves as best we can. All the while grateful for one more revolution around the sun.”
Lambert also released a new album earlier this year: Her Ninth Record, Dubbed palomino fell in late April. She’s now in the middle of a Las Vegas residency called the Velvet Rodeo, which will run through April 2023.
However, before going their separate ways that fall, Little Big Town and Lambert reunited when they sang a tribute to their friend at September’s ACM Honors Special. Lambert received the coveted Triple Crown honor that night when a country artist wins the ACM awards for New Artist of the Year, Male or Female Artist of the Year, and Entertainer of the Year. LBT covered Lambert’s “The House That Built Me,” which brought Lambert to tears as he watched it, reports Country Now. According to the publication, Fairchild couldn’t resist a salute to the honoree as the song ended. “Congratulations, Miranda,” she said. “We love you so much.”
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