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Thu. Oct. 23 3:07 pm
Friday, Oct. 28, 2011

Lady Antebellum honored at pavilion dedication

Staff Writer
JIM BLAYLOCK/STAFF
Lady Antebellum's Charles Kelley sings during a benefit performance at Evans Town Center Park. "It's good to be back home," Kelley said taking the stage. "We're so proud of being from Augusta tonight."
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In a homecoming celebration fit for two kings and a lady, Lady Antebellum rocked the stage in a concert at the Evans Town Center Park and new pavilion named to honor the hometown connection of band members Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood.

“It’s good to be back home,” Kelley said taking the stage. “We’re so proud of being from Augusta tonight.”

Kelley and Haywood, graduates of Lakeside High School’s class of 2000, met Hillary Scott after moving to Nashville, Tenn., a few years ago with aspirations of becoming song-writing successes.

The country trio has blown up country and pop music charts and won multiple Grammy and Country Music Association awards.

The concert began with hit singles Our Kind of Love and the title song from their recently released third studio album, Own the Night. Lady Antebellum continued the hour-long set with their first No. 1 song on country charts, Run to You.

“These are all the top songs. They sound so good live. Just like the CD,” said Ashley Blanton, of Grovetown.

About 5,000 people braved scattered rain showers to welcome the music trio. Many of the 3,100 general admission ticket holders waited in line overnight to purchase tickets in the beginning of October. Volunteers, sponsors and VIP passes comprised the rest of the crowd.

Before music began, family members of Haywood and Kelley joined the band to unveil a plaque on the stage’s side acknowledging the hometown heroes.

“Lady Antebellum has touched the souls of millions and gained worldwide recognition … May all who perform here be inspired by their example,” Columbia County Commissioner Chairman Ron Cross read from the plaque.

Proceeds from the concert benefit the John W. Kelley, M.D. Cardiovascular Endowment and University Health Care Foundation and the MCG Health Children’s Medical Center.

To Rich Borden, of Evans, Lady Antebellum embodies the hometown character that draws people to country music.

“We have one of country music’s biggest stars from Augusta and they were willing to come back to Columbia County and support our community,” Borden said.

Sean Tillman, of Evans, was eager for opening bands Stewart & Winfield and Corey Crowder to exit the stage for Lady Antebellum. He waited two nights in the ticket line to see the band live.

“They made it big. Not many people have done that from Augusta. You got James Brown, you got them and a couple of other people,” Tillman said.

To end the concert, Lady Antebellum performed Just a Kiss and Need You Now. The only encore was a singing of the national anthem with a fireworks display.

“Being a live show and knowing it was supposed to be acoustic, I was surprised they brought the whole band,” said Angie Byrd, of Evans. “The sound was great. The quality was wonderful.”

Lady Antebellum will return to Augusta on May 22 to perform on their Own the Night tour.

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