Calvert County’s summer concert season continues Friday, July 18 with rising stars from Music City USA. Thompson Square will headline the Calvert Marine Museum (CMM) Waterside Music Series event. The duo—husband and wife Keifer and Shawna Thompson have had two number one country hits and have received and been nominated for several awards. These include two Grammy nominations and Vocal Duo of the Year nods in 2012 from the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association (CMA).
Their breakthrough hit was “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not?” It has surpassed two million in sales. Other hits include “If I Didn’t Have You” and “Everything I Shouldn’t Be Thinking About.”
The Bay Net caught up, via telephone, with Keifer and Shawna Thompson at their Nashville home.
TBN: Have you done any gigs in Maryland before?
Keifer: We’ve played Maryland several times.
TBN: What do you remember about those experiences?
Shawna: Crab cakes? The people in Maryland were very pleased to have us!
Keifer: It’s a great place to visit. There are a lot of country fans there. It’ll be a good time when we get there.
TBN: What’s the biggest venue you’ve done?
Keifer: We’ve been on major tours the last three years, we’ve done all of them.
Shawna: We played the stadium in Nashville for CMA Fest and there were 70,000 people there. But there are also places like Ryman Auditorium and the Grand Ole Opry. They are smaller venues but they’re just amazing.
TBN: Tell us about the experience of playing the Grand Ole Opry.
Keifer: It’s a place you always want to play when you’re growing up and for Shawna and myself, our families had a really big love for the Grand Ole Opry. It was just an amazing thing. Our folks were in the crowd. It was a major deal. You can just feel all of them who have come and gone. It’s really an amazing place. It’s not just a venue. There’s so much history there. It’s an incredible experience.
TBN: Do you remember who else was on the bill that night?
Keifer: John Conlee introduced us. That’s about all I can remember that night. I was kind of in shock that we were there.
TBN: What have you been working on lately?
Keifer: We’ve got a new single called “I Can’t Outrun You.” It’s doing really well. We’re writing for this new album. It’s going to be out next year some time and we’ll probably cut a few songs in September and going to see where it’s going. It’s shaping up really good.
TBN: Who are some of your musical influences?
Keifer: It’s all over the place. Personally, I started writing songs when I heard Merle Haggard’s “Big City” record. I was exposed to country early—the first music I remember hearing was Roger Miller and Elvis Presley. I just got inspired by everything along the way, from rock, to punk, to traditional country, to boogie. I don’t have a real short list of influences—it’s too massive to list. It’s songs, not the stars, the songs.
Shawna: For me it was very traditional. My dad played music and he was always playing bluegrass or traditional country around the house, like George Jones, Merle Haggard, Tammy Wynette and Patsy Cline. And as I got a little bit older in the 90s I fell in love with Reba McEntire, Pam Tillis and I also listened to my brother’s music. He was always into heavy metal, hair band stuff like that. I’m kind of all over the map as well. More rooted in traditional country, I think.
TBN: There’s an ongoing debate about the direction in which country music is going. Some purists think it’s off course. What do you think?
Keifer: When Garth Brooks came along they considered him a change for the worst. Now you go back and listen to a Garth record and it sounds like traditional country music. Country music changes, music changes—the stuff that’s hot at the time, it’s going to get a lot of controversy because everybody obviously wants that same sort of attention. You just stick to your guns and do your music. Just be happy about what you’re doing. If you’re not happy doing your kind of music, if you’re only happy being the hot thing, you’re probably in it for the wrong reason.
TBN: What can the Thompson Square fans look forward to Friday Night in Solomons?
Keifer: It’s going to be a party. We have lots of fun!
Contact Marty Madden at email@example.com