The Lady Antebellum concert Friday in Evans is akin to a celebration for the triumphant return of hometown heroes.
Lady A members Dave Haywood and Charles Kelley grew up in Columbia County and belong to the 2000 class of Lakeside High School. To honor that connection, county officials named the new Evans Town Center Park’s performance venue the Lady Antebellum Pavilion.
Gates at the park open at 4 p.m. and the concert starts at 6 p.m. Lady A is expected to take the stage at 8 p.m., following shows from opening acts Stewart & Winfield and Corey Crowder.
During the show, county officials will unveil a plaque dedicating the pavilion to the band.
Then, the group will launch into a mostly acoustic set.
“It’s supposed to be an acoustic performance, but they are bringing their back-up band,” said county Community Events Specialist Keela Colombraro. “Originally, it was supposed to be just the three artists.”
Now, Colombraro said she’s expecting Haywood, Kelley and third member Hilary Scott along with five members of the back-up band.
“It’s not quite as acoustic as we thought it would be, but it still won’t be a full blown concert,” she said. “It still will have an acoustic feel to it.”
Few modern music acts willingly risk exposing themselves to the scrutiny that comes with an acoustic performance.
In the age of computerized sound recording, in which a dizzying array of audio effects literally are available to a music producer’s fingertips, many vocalists shy away from a medium in which those aural crutches are stripped away.
But Lady Antebellum seem ideally suited to acoustic shows.
The band’s blend of spot-on harmonies and slow rhythms showcase their musical talents rather than a production prowess.
But Friday’s performance, acoustic or plugged in, remains special for the community and the band.
After moving a few years ago to Nashville, Tenn., with aspirations of becoming songwriting successes, Haywood and Kelley met Scott and formed Lady Antebellum.
On the strength of such mega-hits as Love Don’t Live Here and Need You Now, the trio have sold out venues throughout the U.S., won multiple Grammy and Country Music Association awards, and even enjoyed crossover success on the pop music charts.
They recently released their third studio album, Own the Night, and currently are planning a new tour, which includes a May 22 concert in Augusta.
Lady Antebellum’s show is the second concert held at the park, which officially opened Saturday. But many see this performance as a breakthrough for Columbia County.
County Commission Chairman Ron Cross says promoters for some major acts already have expressed interest in performing at the pavilion.
“They say the venue could support just about anybody we wanted to bring,” Cross said.
Plans are in the works to bring many concerts to the venue next year, he said.
Among those concerts officials hope to book is one by Josh Kelley, a pop and country musician, and brother to Charles.
The stage in the Lady Antebellum Pavilion is named for him.
“We had thought about dedicating the stage for Josh the same night as Lady Antebellum, but decided to wait,” Colombraro said. “We’d like to do it when he can be there to perform.”