May 12, 2010 12:00 PM

LADY A’S SHOWTIME

How the band gets ready-and takes it all in-on their biggest tour yet

For Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum, the biggest rush on the road comes from a full house. “When we were out with (Kenny) Chesney and Keith Urban, people were trickling in throughout our set,” he says. Now, with explosive success of their own, “It’s a complete, full arena when we start! That’s wild.” Of course, the crowd reaction to their hit “Need You Now,” is pretty awesome too. “That piano lick starts and the crowd goes nuts-it gives me chills every time,” says Kelley, 28. To prep for their set, he, Dave Haywood, 27, and Hillary Scott, 24, rock out in their dressing rooms (Hillary and her little sister blasted Justin Bieber on Feb. 26) to get pumped before the show. “We live for that moment onstage,” says Kelley. “It’s like home.”

Brad’s Laughing Matters

Opening for Paisley? Prepare to get punk’d. Some of the master joker’s greatest hits:

1 JACK IN THE BOX

Paisley got 2007 opener Jack Ingram to step into a cage built of PVC pipe and then had the crew wheel him onstage, leaving Ingram to sing the first two songs in a box.

2 JEWEL TONES

On their duet “That’s the Way Love Goes,” Paisley tricked opening act Jewel by playing the song in several different keys. She famously got even by staging a fake arrest of Paisley at Nashville’s airport.

3 CHUCK STICKS

During opener Chuck Wicks’ last night on tour, Paisley had stagehands douse Wicks with maple syrup and cover him in feathers.

4 TAYLOR’S TRIALS

Paisley unleashed a slew of pranks on Swift, including shooting her with silly string and letting loose live crickets on her bus. An attentive student, Taylor went on to prank Keith Urban by storming the stage in full KISS makeup during his performance of “Kiss a Girl.”

CARRIE’S COSTUMES

With 14 outfits (and 29 different looks!) Carrie Underwood gets all dressed up for her Play On Tour

SPANDEX BALLET: “Carrie loves sparkly, shiny things,” tour costume designer Soyon An says of the Swarovski crystals she used to make the spandex catsuit’s halter neck. The cropped jacket was a hit with the bride-to-be as well: “In the back, I made a white bow with netting, and it kind of looks like a veil. She was like, ‘There’s a little wedding on my back!’ ”

SOUTHERN BELLE: The shirt and skirt combo with Oscar de la Renta lace that Underwood wears to perform “Just a Dream” and “Temporary Home” is the singer’s favorite. “I think because it’s yellow and has pretty flowers and reminds her of the wedding,” An says.

RODNEY’S ROAD STOPS

Rodney Atkins had his fifth No. 1 with “It’s America,” so who better to tour the U.S. with? Some of his favorite places:

(1) ANDERSON, S.C.

When I was 4, my dad worked for J.C. Penney here. I never forgot Little Pigs Barbecue. I thought I dreamed it. But a few years ago I went back, and there it was. I never forgot that taste. And every time I walk in, there it is again.

(2) THE MINNESOTA LAKES

It’s the land of 10,000 lakes. When my wife and little boy are on the road, we go fishing. I’ll fish for 10 minutes but throw rocks for an hour with him. Those are the best days of my life.

(3) RED ROCKS, COLO.

One of the most amazing places I’ve ever played. You want to take your ear monitor out and just hear the sound echoing. This is one of the places people should actually travel to to see a show.

(4) MALIBU

There’s a place called the Rock Store made out of old volcanic rock where all the Harley riders go hang out. There are bikes all over the place. It used to be a stagecoach stop back at the turn of the century.

SUGARLAND’S

What We’ve Learned

Kristian Bush shares what the duo discovered touring with pros

TAKE THE FAMILY

“We were at a festival with Tim and Faith, and their kids were playing in a pool they brought along. I remember feeling relief: It’s not impossible to do this and be a dad.”

MAKE A SHOW

“No matter the day, Brooks & Dunn brought it every night. There was no night when Ronnie wasn’t singing well. You won’t see us phone it in either.”

GET COMFY

“Keith had one pride and joy on his bus: the fanciest coffeemaker ever. As for me, I take pride in my pajamas. I like the old-timey matching top and bottoms in soft Egyptian cotton.”

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

“Kenny told us not to feel bad about hauling a trainer out on the road. He said part of your job is to be healthy, and people depend on you being healthy.”

GLORIANA

Life on a Tour Bus!

A look at the band’s cozy home away from home

Mike Gossin

MINI JAM SESSIONS

“We bought these little guitars to save space, and we’re absolutely loving them,” says Mike.

Rachel Reinert

RACHEL’S “BARBIE” BUNK

“She loves pink,” says Cheyenne. “You’d think the bunk belongs to an 8-year-old girl!”

Tom Gossin

THE ONBOARD BARISTA

“The front lounge is like a little coffee shop in the morning,” says Tom. “I’ve always had this secret thing where I’ve wondered what it would be like to work at Starbucks.”

Cheyenne Kimball

SINGING IN THE SHOWER

Having just upgraded to a bus with a shower, Cheyenne says she’s “stoked,” but admits it’s not that luxurious. “You have to start it, stop it, lather up and start it up again to rinse off,” says Cheyenne. “We only have one tank of water to last all day.”

A Taylor-Made Tour

The singer reveals how she keeps her shows humming along

(1) PARTY TO GO

Everywhere we go we set up the T-Party room. It’s like our living room on tour, with draped fabric on the ceiling, comfy couches, a Ping-Pong table and a big TV. During the day it’s a hang-out room, and after the show it’s a party for the most passionate fans pulled from the crowd.

(2) CIRCLE OF FRIENDS

I get together with all of my band and dancers in a huddle each night before the show. We choose a different person every night to give a speech.

(3) S’MORE FUN

Every couple of weeks, we get the opening acts, the band and crew together, form the buses in a circle, put a bonfire in the middle and play music, dance and eat s’mores.

Brooks & Dunn Say Farewell

We’ll miss them when they’re gone, but for now Kix & Ronnie plan a hard-working summer

You just knew that Brooks & Dunn would stage a long goodbye like no one else. Their last hurrah begins with April 18’s ACM Awards, where they’re up for their 16th vocal duo trophy. But the real action will take place the following night, when everyone from Kenny Chesney to Keith Urban (who once played guitar for the duo) will honor B&D in a benefit concert to be taped and broadcast on CBS in May. That’s followed by the actual Last Rodeo Tour, which kicks off April 23 in Marysville, Calif. Expect a rollicking rundown of the duo’s hits and a set (at top) featuring a drum kit that blows smoke. As for the final show, in Nashville on Aug. 10, expect more than cowgirls to be crying when that last note is played.

ALSO PLAYING

STAR TOURS

Toby Keith and Trace Adkins are together again for a sequel to America’s Toughest Tour.

• Dierks Bentley explores his bluegrass side on a club tour starting in April.

• Country rock stars the Eagles team up with the Dixie Chicks and Keith Urban for a stadium tour beginning June 8 in Toronto.

• Kellie Pickler and Chris Young bring their talents to the Rascal Flatts shows.

• And The Judds are reuniting for what Wynonna has called “take-your-mother-to-work year.”

FESTIVALS

When she’s not heading her own tour (“Roadside Bars & Pink Guitars”), Miranda Lambert will appear at the all-femme Lillith Fair (starting July 2 in Portland, Ore.). Also on the bill? Loretta Lynn!!! Zac Brown Band teams up with Dave Matthews Band at Bonnaroo (June 10-13). But Brown’s country fans can also catch him at the CMA Music Festival (June 10-13), where the four-day lineup also includes a chance to see Reba McEntire, Billy Currington and Tim McGraw‘s first fan fest appearance since 2001.

• Brad Paisley headlines the New England Country Music Festival (Aug. 21) with Darius Rucker, Jason Aldean and more.

• And though he’s not touring, you can get a Kenny Chesney fix at Lousiana’s Superfest (May 29-30), BamaJam (June 3-5), Country Thunder Wisconsin (July 22-25)-where you can also catch Aldean and Sugarland-and finally, the WE Fest (Aug. 5-7).

(This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.)

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