STORY WRITTEN BY ED CONDRAN
For Digital First Media
It was evident how liberating it was for Charles Kelley during his solo set four months ago at the House of Blues in Boston. Lady Antebellum’s frontman smiled throughout an eclectic 16-song set. Some fans didn’t know what to make of his inspired take on Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” and they roared during his version of The Eagles’ “Take It Easy.”
“Playing the solo shows is a lot of fun,” Kelley said while calling from Nashville. “I’ve had such a great time doing something a little different. I think it recharges your battery if you don’t just do the same thing over and over again.”
Kelley is feeling good after touring behind his solo debut, “The Driver,’ which alternates between rock, pop and country.
“It was the right time to do what we did,” Kelley said. “I didn’t just want to sit around while we were on break. But the reality was that I would be back with Lady Antebellum. There was no question about that. I think some fans wondered what was going on but the reality is that I can never see us not being together. I also can’t see anything else but being the focus for us. We know how special Lady Antebellum is. Taking a break from each other gave us time, which helps when it comes to the next album.”
Lady Antebellum has six albums to draw from when composing its set list for Saturday at Musikfest and Sunday at the Borgata. Lady Antebellum, which also includes vocalist Hillary Scott and guitarist-pianist Dave Haywood, realize that the band is bigger than any of its members.
“We understand how magical it is to be in this band,” Kelley said. “We could never accomplish what we do in this band by ourselves. We don’t take Lady Antebellum for granted. We don’t always see eye to eye with each other but we always work hard and do all that we can to make something special.”
There is a healthy balance in the band, according to Kelley. “I guess I’m the more aggressive one, Dave is the most laidback and Hillary is somewhere in the middle. It works. What we have is uncommon.”
Part of what the members of Lady Antebellum have is understanding and the realization that some things are bigger than the band, such as family. Scott sheepishly told her bandmates that she was pregnant in 2013. She feared what their reaction would be since the band would have to go on a brief hiatus.
“I told her that it was the most amazing thing in the world,” Kelley said. “Nothing tops having a baby. The band would be there after she gave birth and that was so.”
The following year Haywood entered the world of paternity. And Kelley became a father in February. “It’s just been incredible,” Kelley said. “I can’t tell you how amazing it is to have a son. I’ve joined the parent club in the band. I think all of us having children will only make us deeper as songwriters and as people.”
The eight-time Grammy winners love playing the Northeastern part of the country. “More country artists should play up in the Northeast,” Kelley said. “We always do well up there. We have so many fans from there and I’m sure we’re not the only country band they like. When we played that Atlantic City show on the beach (in 2014), we were blown away by how many people showed up to see us.”
An estimated 65,000 showed up to catch the free show. “It was one of the most amazing shows we ever did. I always love to come back to Atlantic City. People come out to see us. That’s what it’s all about. We appreciate their support.”