It's been a a little more than a week since Maren Morris played the Hangout Stage at the Hangout Music Festival. If you missed the festival this year, you missed iconic performances by Morris, Post Malone, Fall Out Boy and many others.
Morris hit the stage in the late afternoon on May 20, opening with "Circles Around This Town," the lead single from her new album, "Humble Quest." The show, a warmup for her upcoming headlining tour, was filled with audience sing-a-longs like "My Church" and "The Bones," as well as new songs "I Can't Love You Anymore" and "Background Music." It also showcased the Mick and Keith energy between Morris and her band member, bassist and backup vocalist Annie Clements.
Or maybe Mick and Keith have that Maren/Annie energy?
Clements, a New Orleans native and Berklee College of Music graduate, is well-known for playing bass in Morris' band. She also played bass in Sugarland, where she met her husband, Mississippi native Thad Beaty.
"I met (Thad) at the audition -- we were both there to audition for the band," Clements said during a stroll around the Hangout Festival grounds before her show with Morris. "The rest of the band was living in Atlanta at the time, and we were the only ones living in Nashville, so we were always riding to the airport and stuff together, and it blossomed from there."
Clements is the daughter of legendary New Orleans guitarist Cranston Clements, who the website All About Jazz called "the most sought-after New Orleans guitarist in the last 30 years." She said New Orleans and its music were highly influential in her life.
"I remember going to see George Porter and Runnin' Pardners; I was always a fan," Clements said. "We just had Jazz Fest in New Orleans, and I'm so glad it's back. I would always go with my dad. I would be on the stage while he was playing with The Dixie Cups or Irmas Thomas and Boz Skaggs. I just grew up in it. This is the first time I've brought my daughter to a show, and she gets to see me play. The whole backstage experience I had with my dad, she's going to get to have, too."
Clements and Beatty had their daughter in 2020, the same year Morris and her husband, Ryan Hurd, had their son. With new toddlers at home, Clements said her family is looking for "creative" ways to be together on the road.
"Typically with country touring, it's very humane -- you leave at midnight on a Wednesday, and you're back home by Sunday morning," she said. "But when you're out west, you're kind of stuck out there. We have a few runs that are longer, so we're trying to be a little creative and catch a couple of days together here and there. I think she's very quickly going to become a frequent flyer. It's a lot to figure out. She'll be 2 next month. We had her in 2020, and it was such a huge blessing. I was about six months pregnant when the pandemic shut things down. But then I got to spend about a year with my baby."
Like many artists, Morris and Clements are about to embark on their first tour since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the music touring industry. Clements said she is grateful to be hitting the road once again.
"It looked like everything could literally end," she said. "It was hard to know what to think. Being in my line of work as long as I have, I've seen artists make a lot of changes in how they make money, but you could always count on that live show. It was pretty scary to see that evaporate. But here we are. You can't beat that feeling of being back and feeling the crowd and enjoying the moment."