Westbrook from DHS Class of 89
Jimi Westbrook who is a graduate
of the Dora High School Class of 89 and a member of the country music
group Little Big Town came to Birmingham on Tuesday for a concert and
a cd release party. Click below for the full story in the Daily Mountain
Jimi's night to shine
Sumiton native goes from "boondocks" to the big
The Daily Mountain Eagle
Published October 05, 2005 9:13 PM CDT
BIRMINGHAM - Tuesday was an unusually busy night at the Barking Kudu
in Birmingham. The band on stage played a little differently from the
bar's typical rock and roll offerings. Little Big Town is a country group
with a hit single called "Boondocks" from its new album, "The
Road to Here."
The band celebrated its CD release party with a room full of fans. The
audience was definitely digging the whole ensemble, but there was a certain
guitar player and vocalist who got the most attention: Dora High School
grad Jimi Westbrook.
Westbrook grew up in Sumiton and graduated from Dora High in 1989. He
spent his childhood listening to Elvis Presley and Stevie Wonder, playing
basketball with his friends, and singing. Around the age of 12, Westbrook
joined the church choir. He discovered he had a good voice. Best friend
Justin Turner remembered Westbrook as someone with a lot of natural athletic
talents but who also had a strong background in music. It was not any
surprise to him that he chose the latter.
"He could have taken that [athletic] ability and done something
with it, but I think singing and music took hold of him. He's a great
writer and singer," Turner said.
The room was packed with family and friends, people who knew Westbrook
from school and church, or both. In the middle of the set, singer Karen
Fairchild announced that "Boondocks" had reached the Top 20
that day, making it a certifiable hit. The other good news was that they
were going on a month-long tour with country music star Keith Urban.
"Who wants to come with us?" Fairchild asked. The audience
members screamed their affirmations.
A person who goes to LBT shows whenever he can is Westbrook's brother-in-law,
Paul Morgan. He was back stage when the band preformed at the Grand Ole'
One of the things he likes about the band, aside from the fact that his
brother-in-law is one of the front men, is its live performances.
"They're just as good live as they are on the CD," Morgan said.
Equity Music Group representative David Haley agreed. The label signed
LBT after it left Sony Music, making this the band's third record deal.
Haley said the group's determination to make its own unique sound is something
EMG found appealing.
"Of course as a music group and a record label, we have our ideas
about marketing concepts and promotional concepts, but there's no one
in our group that's trying to tweak the music or guide it in a certain
direction. What you hear on this record is LBT 100 percent," Haley
LBT's music speaks of Saturday night poker and church on Sunday morning.
After Westbrook finished signing autographs and hugging his family, he
stepped away for a minute with two of his friends.
The three men stood in the middle of the bar, bowed their heads and prayed.
The night was a blessing.
On the back of the tour bus, Westbrook and fellow front man Phillip Sweet
casually drank a beer and measured their success by small town values.
Westbrook said a childhood spent singing Southern music had a big influence
"To me, the connection [to Sumiton] is with country music,"
Westbrook said. "It tends to be a lot about family and the people
you grew up with and the values you get from a small town."
Sweet said the band's name reflects the small town roots of each of the
"It's Southern American music. It's a melting pot of all those influences.
Little Big Town just represents that," Sweet said.
LBT's main emphasis is on harmony. Kimberly Roads and Fairchild's voices
mesh with the vocals and guitar harmonies of Westbrook and Sweet.
When asked if their Christian roots were in tune with playing in a popular
Birmingham bar, the band said it was not a problem for them.
"Our faith doesn't change according to where we are located. Our
faith is just as strong as if we're walking into a bar or a church on
Sunday morning. We live our lives in a holistic way. We're who we are
all the time," Fairchild said.
People questioning LBT about who it is was part of what inspired "Boondocks."
"We were getting questioned a little bit about, 'Are they real,'"
Roads said. "We decided that we'd write a song about it and in the
song are a lot of examples of things from our home towns."
The song includes references to the tin roof on Westbrook's grandmother's
house, which is still in Sumiton.
"I can remember going to sleep and the rain falling on it, just
little glimpses," Westbrook said.
Fairchild said working with EMG made controlling the group's image easier
than with previous labels.
A big challenge is making sure everyone associated with them stays on
the same page.
"It's hard to communicate with the team around you to make sure
it stays with your vision," Fairchild said. "On the first record
some things were compromised. The images of us became too slick and glossy.
We're a blue jeans kind of band."
LBT said Westbrook's family and friends in Sumiton were a big part of
"They are causing a serious groundswell for us, talking about the
band and the record," Fairchild said.
"I love those folks. That's the people I grew up with and I'm proud
to be from there," Westbrook said.
COPYRIGHT ® 2005 Daily Mountain Eagle, a division of Cleveland Newspapers,
Inc. All rights reserved.
The information contained herein is protected by the copyright laws of
the United States. The copyright laws prohibit any copying, redistributing,
retransmitting, broadcasting or repurposing of any copyright-protected
The Daily Mountain Eagle
1301 East Viking Drive
Jasper, AL 35501
EQUAL HOUSING OPPORTUNITY
PUBLISHER'S NOTICE: All real estate advertised in this newspaper is subject
to the Federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 which makes it illegal to advertise
"any preference, limitation or discrimination based on race, color,
religion, sex, or national origin, or an intention to make any such preference,
limitation or discrimination." This newspaper will not knowingly
accept any advertising for real estate which is in violation of the law.
Our readers are informed that all dwellings advertised in this newspaper
are available on an equal opportunity basis. Equal Housing Opportunity,
News | Sports | Lifestyles | Opinions | The AP Wire
Announcements | Front Page | Weather | E-mail