It took over 9 years of waiting on Shawna and Keifer Thompson from the release of their double platinum, multiple Grammy nominated single ‘Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not’ before Thompson Square finally made their way over to the UK and fans over here certainly were ready for it!
For one reason or another we just couldn’t get over here! Where we were at businesswise and labelwise we just couldn’t do it. We kept getting talked out of it and people were like you’re gonna lose money and eventually I was like stop talking to me then we booked our flights then we’re finally here. We’re at a new label now who are very encouraging about all this stuff and yeah we are here!
This was the straightforward answer from Keifer to what took you guys so long to come and play for us? We got to have a quick chat before their set on Sunday morning at last months The Long Road Festival in the beautiful surroundings of Stanford Hall in Lutterworth, Leicestershire. The fact that the duo were playing the festival (and subsequent UK dates opening for Eric Paslay) as just the 2 of them armed with Keifer’s guitar did not deter from the amount of people that were up early on a Sunday morning to see them absolutely fill The Interstate Stage to every single inch of the tent. This genuinely brought about the only negative comments I had heard about the festival: Firstly that they were on far too early and there definitely should have been a way to plan to get these guys on the main stage.
The vibe backstage and here the view is much better! It feels more tame! A little more organised maybe? Smaller definitely but that’s not a bad thing! I made the comment too as we’re driving in, that this might be the most “country” country festival we’ve ever done! Just because of the location. I love the buildings and stuff its awesome! The scenery surrounding us is just beautiful, you definitely know you’re not in America! There’s not beer cans everywhere or people throwing up in the bushes YET! It’ll happen as I’m sure you guys know how to party!
I spoke to the guys before their set but hearing the reaction after they played and how receptive people were during their show at Bush Hall to end their tour, I think this was a great example of people hearing murmurs about European audiences but not quite understanding exactly what they were in for as Shawna told me:
We had no idea what to expect at all but it’s been a pleasant surprise.
The reception for the duo has been resounding, like I mentioned in the introduction that they are an act that country fans in Europe have absolutely been waiting to see for quite a number of years so were quite an attractive announcement as a touring artist and someone playing the festival which clearly was an experience the two of them enjoyed and hopefully lit the spark for them to want to see more of our continent in future.
First time here, we’ve been to Germany, Amsterdam and Ireland. We had a little bit of time to look around but feel like we’re in and out right now, doing like 10 shows in 12 days but in Scotland we’re gonna stop over at a lake and spend a night there!
This European tour fell shortly after the release of the title track from their third album ‘Masterpiece’ which as a record draws a lot of influence from a variety of different musical perspectives which you are noticing that artists that don’t look to be confined to a set in stone genre box of parameters are the people that do have a lot of appeal over here as the emphasis is on the story itself and real experiences. ‘Masterpiece’ as a track really conveys this being a song about family being our greatest achievement and what we are most proud of. The video (below) really shows this so well and is a perfect fit for the idea showing home videos of growing up, the duo’s wedding day and their young son Cooper.
I think one of the key things you notice about watching the Thompson’s on stage is how natural and honest they are as storytellers that people really are gripped by their songs, the way they introduce them and interact with the crowd but above all the range of emotions that they convey. There are times to be sincere and also they bring a real nice lighthearted style that the European audiences connect with because we like people that are genuinely funny. There is so much more to this duo than just being Thompson Square: Shawna is working on her own project, they have released a children’s book called ‘Time To Get Dressed’ and more recently Keifer has spent some time on another passion – Stand Up Comedy (which is fitting for them being fun to talk to and the way they interact with the crowd on stage) and it may not surprise you to hear Shawna say “Most of the jokes are about me!”
I’ve been obsessed with comedy and comedians since the early days of Saturday Night Live and when we found ourselves independent it was time to think is there anything else we haven’t done? Shawna and my agent and my manager had been hounding me for ages to try stand-up so I went for it! I got some laughs the first time, now I’ve bombed a couple of times since then and that’s the worst thing I’ve ever experienced but for the most part it’s been pretty good. It’s interesting and I’ve had a good time doing it so I had an opportunity to play Comic Strip Live in New York City which was pretty weird that I was playing there but it’s coming along. The progress is kinda slow with the writing side of it. We’re working on her project and the new album with Thompson Square and everything so it’s been 3 careers at once!
This tour was a long time coming and was quite condensed with doing 10 shows in 12 days but fans this side of the Atlantic all echoed that it was well and truly worth the wait that hopefully will be a trip that the duo get to repeat in the not too distant future!