It’s the Tuesday after Memorial Day, and you’re somewhere on a beach. Maybe on Cape Cod (Mayflower wins— every time. Where are my Cape people at?) Maybe you’re somewhere on a boat in the middle of New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee. Maybe you’re having the annual barbecue in your backyard with the hamburgers and the hot dogs and the red-checkered-plastic tablecloths and giant pitcher full of Country Time lemonade.
Or maybe you’re doing none of those things because first of all, it’s the Tuesday after Memorial Day and the long weekend is over, and second of all, beaches and boats and barbecues are essentially all foreign concepts now.
What should be the officially unofficial start to summer 2020 is, well, a bust.
Sure, you can wear a mask to the beach (can you though, can you?) or go boating with exactly one other person (thrilling, I know), or attempt to barbecue with only the people you currently live with (I suppose you could maybe invite some neighbors and exile them to separate corners of your yard… and tell them the BBQ is BYO-BBQ).
The point is, nothing about this summer is going to be the same, no matter how hard we may try to squish that round peg into the square hole that is 2020. Perhaps the biggest loss, if you ask me, is the tradition of the summer country music concert.
In describing one of my best friends in the whole wide world, I once said that if you didn’t know where she was, your best bet would be to check the local concert venues. I think it’s safe to say the same is true about me (which is unusual, because while she’s a slightly older version of me, she’s far cooler).
They say baseball is the great American pastime, and while I love the Red Sox, I'm gonna have to say the concert is the real winner in my book. Remember, if I could just sing, I would be a rockstar. Since I can’t, it’s no wonder I love going to watch other people do it. Especially if they sing country music. I like to say I’m a fake Southerner— with the exception of the “room” and “wicked” dead giveaways, most people don’t even peg me as a Boston gal when we meet. The first time I went to New York City, a guy in a Yankees jersey in my hotel elevator was convinced I was from the south. I didn’t correct him, perhaps for obvious reasons.
The first time I met my next-door neighbor my freshman year of college, she thought I was from “either Tennessee or Georgia.” She couldn’t decide. She’s from Kentucky, so you can imagine her surprise when I said I was from approximately 30 minutes down the road.
Needless to say, I feel strangely at home at country music concerts. I’m lucky enough to be able to attend a handful every summer (a staple being Kenny Chesney at Gillette Stadium. Put the fake southerner from Boston in the home of Tom Brady alongside some 60,000 other members of No Shoes Nation— need I say more? Other than that this was all clearly before the chaos in March? And no, I don’t mean coronavirus).
Cue the lights on center stage, however, and instead of Kenny Chesney appearing, it’s all talk of germs and vaccines and the seemingly never ending pandemic. Chesney ultimately postponed the entirety of his Chillaxification Tour until 2021. Gillette is always the last stop on his tour at the very end of August, and just as Memorial Day kicks off the summer, Kenny Chesney ends it.
Add belting out Kenny songs to the list of beaches, boats, and BBQs. There’s no officially unofficial start to summer 2020, and there won’t be an unofficial end, either.
Maren Morris followed suit. The same day as Chesney, Morris announced that she, too, is postponing her RSVP: The Tour until 2021. Morris’s tour included stops at the Xfinity Center and Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion, the latter being my favorite venue ever. Yes, even over Gillette. No offense, Foxborough.
Luke Bryan is another frequent flier, of both Gillette and Bank of N.H. Pavilion, though his future is more uncertain. Bryan delayed the start of his Proud to Be Right Here Tour until July 10th, and while Gillette isn’t on the list, he is still due to play in New Hampshire on August 5th.
Sam Hunt is in the same boat as Bryan (I’m telling you— here we go with the boating with one other person thing). Anyway, Hunt pushed his Southside Tour dates to July 10th as well. He’s scheduled to play in New Hampshire the 11th and at the Xfinity Center the 18th. But, as May draws to a close and we have no real end to this pandemic in sight, I’m not so sure how much longer performers like Luke Bryan and Sam Hunt can keep their hopes up.
I say their hopes.
I really mean mine.
Is there anything better than seeing your favorite performers live? In the flesh? It’s both an intimate experience between you and the artist and a collective hallelujah you share with thousands upon thousands of others— all of whom are equally as sweaty and hollering out the same words to the same song at the top of their lungs just like you. It’s transformative.
In all honesty, I’m not sure what my Tuesday after Memorial Day plans would’ve looked like had it not been for corona. I am sure that this weekend would’ve been the start to Thomas Rhett’s Center Point Road Tour at the Bank of N.H. Pavilion.
For me, that’s usually what Memorial Day (or right around here) looks like. I celebrate the start of my summer with a country music concert. Last year, it was Mitchell Tenpenny, Carly Pearce, and Michael Ray at the House of Blues on June 1st (see the thumbnail photo for this post), and Zac Brown Band in New Hampshire exactly a week later.
This year, Thomas Rhett’s Center Point Road album is playing on repeat on Spotify instead of in person, and I’m on my back deck, in a beach chair, with a glass of lemonade.
No frills, but we’ll make it work. Until the day concerts come back, live music returns, and it’s the Tuesday after Memorial Day. And, unlike me, you’re somewhere on a beach.
News and politics aside, another favorite thing of mine is fashion. I love clothes. My mom is a wonderful artist, and while I can’t draw, I like to think my best forms of art are the words I write and the clothes I wear.
I wore a sparkly jumpsuit to my senior prom, and I’m not sure I’ve ever loved an outfit more. The only problem was that I had bad hair (I thought that wasn’t supposed to happen until you had kids and were looking back at prom pictures with them?)
Anyway, the sparkles on the jumpsuit were bright colors, so I wore giant neon yellow earrings to match. Earrings are my favorite accessory. Automatic fashion level-up? Add a fun pair of earrings. Easy. You’re now one step closer to being Karen Fairchild.
Not only is she a country music queen, she’s also the first lady of fashion. Karen makes up one fourth of the band Little Big Town— the group she’s been making music with for some twenty years. Just by looking at them you would imagine a prerequisite for joining the band would have to be something like “wildly attractive people with amazing hair only.”
You thought I was kidding.
Karen is on the far left, followed by Jimi Westbrook (her husband, no less), Kimberly Schlapman, and Phillip Sweet. The picture is from the 2020 Grammys in January, and the band is dressed from head-to-toe in Dolce&Gabbana. Karen has said that this look may just be her favorite ever, which clearly makes it her sparkly senior prom jumpsuit. I mean, look at it. If wearing fur-trimmed Dolce&Gabbana to my senior prom was an option, trust me, I would’ve done it.
Karen also makes me want to dye my hair darker and let it grow really long. Quarantine has taken care of the latter for me, but otherwise I’m just left trying to convince myself that my light brown hair really is dark brown and clearly looks exactly like hers.
I promise you, it does not.
And, naturally, Karen’s music is just as good— better, even, than you could possibly hope for. Little Big Town released their ninth album Nightfall in January, and embarked on an intimate tour of theaters across the country playing the new album from top to bottom. I’ve seen their live concerts more times than I can count, so no less than two months after watching them play Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion for the 4th of July last summer, I called my mom from school in September and told her we had to get tickets to see them again when they came to the Wang Theatre in Boston. Merry Christmas to me.
In July, we sat so close to the stage that I could see the sparkles in Karen’s blue eyeshadow. In February, when they came to Boston, they played just about every song you could imagine. The question of whether or not I will ever be as happy elsewhere as I am at a Little Big Town concert is still up for debate.
Now, we can’t talk about Karen without talking about fringe… yet another trend I myself adore. Are we sensing a pattern yet? Here she is at the 2016 CMA Awards in an emerald green fringe dress, and in 2018 in a white fringe ensemble for the Kennedy Center Honors for Cher.
I just ordered black fringe pants that look exactly like the white ones she has on. They are, in fact, amazing. Not sure where exactly I’ll be wearing them or if they will improve my ability to belt out the words to “Girl Crush,” but I’ll let you know.
Between sparkles and fringe, I’m really not sure what else you could ask for from fashion. Or Karen.
So, here you’ll find the coolest pair of jeans probably in the history of denim. They’re custom made (originally for Justin Bieber, believe it or not) and I will probably spend the rest of my life searching for a similar pair of jeans so messed up they’re just as helplessly cool.
“I view it a lot like telling a story in a song. I think an outfit tells a story.” —Karen Fairchild
Did I mention she’s bffs with Christian Louboutin? As in, she had a private party at her home in Nashville and he came and brought her shoes? The red bottoms, man.
In return, Louboutin was gifted a custom Gibson guitar (it’s red on the back, y’all. Like his shoes).
There’s also the matter of her iconic TV appearance outfit: a white blazer and black pants with a red stripe down the side.
...what, like I wasn’t going to do the same thing? Has this post taught you nothing?
The pants may not be exactly the same, but the blazer sure is. Yes, literally. Last summer Karen cleaned out her closet (stars, they’re just like us) and decided to sell the gently worn pieces on an instagram account she and one of the band’s employees created together. So I bought the white blazer, and now it’s my lucky blazer. Which is ironic because it’s white, and white is just terrible for TV.
I’ll leave you back where we started at the Grammys. I could very much keep going, but I’m not entirely sure how long or short these things are supposed to be just yet. Here is Karen’s Grammy look from 2019. I may not have been able to wear Dolce&Gabbana to my senior prom, but I was on the right track with my colorful sparkles.
If I could, I would call up Bobby Bones, or Kelsea Ballerini, or Lady Antebellum, and have any one of them testify to the fact that Karen, and Jimi, and Kimberly, and Phillip... are just good people. I can say it all I want from all the concerts I've seen and all the podcasts I've listened to and all the interviews I've watched, but I've never actually met Karen or the band. Still, I think the very best part about her, fashion and music aside, is that she's exactly the kind of person you would want her to be. And who doesn't want to be just like that when they grow up?
So, yes, my big, black, flat-brimmed hat plastered in the photo all over this website is most definitely in homage to hers.
I'm Alex, and welcome to my blog. I'm a junior at Boston University where I'm studying broadcast journalism and dabbling in political science. Usually, us journalists write articles and not blogs, but seeing as summer 2020 already hasn't gone according to plan, I missed writing with a purpose. Here you'll find all my thoughts and the words I felt needed to be put to paper (or, immortalized on the internet).