Thompson Square’s bringing the party to the Fair

Published 3:00 pm Friday, September 18, 2015

Thompson Square will be having a party this Saturday, and you’re invited.

No need to RSVP, just get in your car and go to the Isle of Wight County Fair. Following an appearance by Boot Rooster at 7 p.m., the duo will start the wingding at 9 on the Duke Automotive Stage.

For those not yet familiar, Keifer and Shawna are Thompson Square. Since they began making music together at Stoney Creek Records in 2010, the married duo has recorded two albums: a self-titled record and last year’s “Just Feels Good.”

Shawna added that she and Keifer have both been very pleased with the company.

Naturally, they’re also at work creating a new record for fans and newcomers alike.

She took time between the concert stage and the studio to speak a little about Thompson Square.

The first question was what for her makes a country song today.

“Just depends on who you’re writing with and situation going on,” Shawna replied. “Typically, it’s what’s going through our lives. In the case of Keifer and I, the thing we do is just down and write. It’s a therapy session.”

Who writes lyrics and who does the music will vary between them.

“It comes differently. Sometimes we’ll take it [the song] to another writer and hash it out,” she said, adding that Keifer is “an awesome melody guy.”

Their combined talent has earned them not only fans, but also recognized musical hits. In Australia, Canada and this country, these include “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not,” “If I Didn’t Have You” and “Everything I Shouldn’t Be Thinking About.”

Three years ago, the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association both lauded the Thompsons as the “Vocal Duo of the Year.”

The newest single, “Trans Am,” debuted in March.

On the day of the recent phone interview, Thompson Square was going into a studio for some more recording. She said there will be 13 to 16 songs, some of them bonus tracks.

“One of the songs will be ‘Playing with Fire.’ We had never written about our dating in the beginning, which was a little rocky. … There was an ex-girlfriend,” Shawna said. “It’s one of our favorite cuts.”

She thinks maybe the album will be out the first part of next year. Speaking of which, that’s when the couple will a personal bonus in their own lives. Shawna confirmed the news that she and Keifer are expecting their first child in that time.

“We’re excited!”

Even before this third edition, the Thompsons had developed a special relationship with a family outside their personal circle by becoming involved with ChildFund International.

“It’s something that our agency connected us with,” she said. “We knew we wanted to get involved with some charity. We’ve been to Honduras twice to see the family we sponsor. It’s really awesome to see where our donations go. There’s been a complete change in our sponsored family. We have poverty in U.S., but not like what we saw. The first time they had dirt floors, and the next time it was covered. Now they also have chickens, a garden and even a latrine.

“It’s very fulfilling to be a part of that.”


As mentioned, the previous album was “Just Feels Good,” and the producers then were Kurt Allison, David Fanning, Tully Kennedy and Rich Redmond, and they go by the collective name of NV.

But there’s a new lineup for the next time.

“We decided to change things up,” Shawn said, naming Dan Huff as the main producer.

The next record will have “a little more angst — Keifer loves rock ‘n’ roll — and we thought he [Huffman] would be a good fit.”

Nathan Chapman will also cut a couple of songs, and the Thompsons are thrilled to be working with both men.

“We’re learning a lot in the studio.”

Shawna dedicated “Just Feels Good” to the memory of her father, Mickey McIlwain, who died in early 2012. You can hear her love as she spoke of him.

“My dad is the reason why I sing. From the moment I was born he was playing music,” she said. “He started a band so I could have a way to perform. I was probably 8 years old, and it was at VFW hall. He was a huge, huge part of why I moved to Nashville.

“The big thing for me is that both he and my mom, Mattie McIlwain. sacrificed a lot for me.”

Although Thompson Square has performed many time in Virginia, this Saturday evening’s performance at the Fair will be the country music duo’s first visit to Western Tidewater.

“We’re not just singing love songs all night long,” Shawna said. “We’re having a party on stage. We like to rock out and have a good time.

“I just think that everyone will enjoy it.”

To learn more about the duo, visit Click on ChildFund to find out more about that organization.