Grand Rapids, MI comes alive as Lainey Wilson, Ben Chapman, and Leah Blevins perform to a fired-up packed house at The Intersection.
The hottest ticket for a female country artist, Lainey Wilson comes to The Intersection in Grand Rapids for the sold-out Stella Rosa Wines Future Is Female Presents: Lainey Wilson’s Bell Bottom Country With A Flare Tour. The 28-city tour sold-out shortly after tickets went on sale. The show in Grand Rapids marks the 22nd show of the tour.
This evening starts with Leah Blevins performing a short 20-minute acoustic set. Blevins is accompanied by Seth Plemmons on acoustic guitar. The vintage country singer introduces her music with songs from her debut album, First Time Feelings, which include the title track and “Little Birds.” She also includes the title track of an earlier (2015) EP, Runnin’.Ben Chapman takes the stage next as he and his band turn The Intersection into a honky tonk bar with “10 Feet Of Regret.” With a mix of southern rock country and the blues, the soulful singing guitar player and his band give the crowd a round of upbeat tunes with “Georgia Dreaming” and “Night Train To Nashville” from their latest release, Amber Sound Vol. 1 EP. Joining Ben on stage are Ivan Pulley (lead guitar), Dalton Ray (bass guitar), and Dylan Murphy (drums). Tour security chief Ron Stein jumps up on stage and adds his harmonica talents in “Kinda Sorta.” As Chapman sings about “Honky Tonk Women” (The Rolling Stones cover), the crowd shows their approval of his musical style with cheers and applause. It is finally time for the Bell Bottom Queen, Lainey Wilson, to take over on stage as she comes storming out to “LA” from her album, Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’ (2021). Keeping the energy moving, Wilson continues pacing back and forth at the front of the stage with the Rick Derringer cover of “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo” before grabbing her guitar for her current single, “Smell Like Smoke.”
Acknowledging the crowd and how wild and crazy they are for a Thursday night, Lainey is very appreciative of all their support and for allowing her and the band the opportunities to do what they do and be able to play music for the people. Last year, their busy schedules allowed them to sleep in their own beds in Nashville for only 15 nights. That entitles them to be a “Road Runner.”
Along with burning up the music stages across the country, Lainey was approached and invited last year to appear on the TV series, Yellowstone. The character would be centered around Wilson and her own self. She was allowed to wear her bell-bottom jeans and sing her own songs. The show’s exposure helped introduce Lainey to the world. She jokes, “I made it all the way through season five and they haven’t taken me to the train station yet, so we shall see what happens next.”
For all the young lovers in the crowd, Wilson sends out “Watermelon Moonshine” while the crowd sings along to the slower ballad. Picking it back up, she does a Holler and Swaller before showing her wild side with “Hold My Halo.”
“Atta Girl” is a song that came from a letter Wilson wrote to herself when she thought she would never see the light at the end of the tunnel, never see another sunrise again, at certain times when she had heartbreaks. The song is sent out to all those who are going through any hurt and to remind you to keep your head held high and your chin up. She emphasizes to the crowd that sometimes you have to go through a battle to come out the other side. The crowd is filled with all ages from older couples to young children. Although some may be too young to understand the full message, little girls are seen singing Lainey’s songs with smiles on their faces.
During her performance of the Jean Knight cover of “Mr. Big Stuff,” Lainey introduces the band that has become family and joins her on stage every night. They are Aslan Freeman (lead guitar), Matt Nolan (drums), Kevin Nolan (instrumentalist, guitar, keys, and piano), and Tommy Scifres (bass guitar). The band exits the stage as Lainey strums her guitar and mentions the CMA Awards show. She tells of how she didn’t move to Nashville to win awards and trophies. This past show, Lainey Wilson was nominated for six awards while winning two of them, Female Vocalist Of The Year and New Artist Of The Year. She admits that the best and most memorable part was having her daddy walk her down the Red Carpet. He is now living his childhood dream of being a musical entertainer through her successes.
As the band returns, “Wildflowers And Wild Horses” stirs the pot before her verse of the popular Hardy duet “Wait In The Truck.” That leads into the single “Heart Like A Truck” from her new album, Bell Bottom Country. The album went straight to the top of the charts for all genres on its release. As Lainey confesses, “it is all I have ever wanted to do. Some women have an issue with my big ol’ butt…that is all over Tik Tok. Bell Bottom Country is country with a flare for you to be yourself, regardless of who or what you are. Even if you have a big butt like me.” Knowing that music was always going to be what she did for a living, Lainey moved to Nashville when she was 19 and has spent the past 12 years working for this sold-out show. As she had a few things to get rid of for her journey, one of those things was a boy. Although she loved him, she told him, “I have places to go, people to meet, and sh*t to do.” That turned into a “Rolling Stone.”
It is important for Lainey to remember where she comes from and be true to herself and true to her story. “Many people have opinions, but you have to stay positive and keep positive people around you. Home, Nashville, and the road. For me, what you see is what you get,” says Wilson. She wraps it up with her 2020 single “Things A Man Oughta Know” with people raising their arms in the air holding their phones and waving them back and forth as they sing along.
Normally, Wilson and the band would walk off now for an encore, but keeping the energy in the room, they stay on stage. Calling out Ben Chapman to help, they finish the evening with the 4 Non Blondes cover of “What’s Up.” As the band exits the stage, Lainey drops down onto the floor in front of the stage to shake hands and sign autographs for her fans.
The show is a non-stop event full of high energy throughout. Lainey Wilson is a badass, with authority, demanding attention from everyone and not taking no from anyone. She is here to play her music and have fun doing it with her fans. A sure reason why she is the hottest ticket in town for any female country artist today.