Maren Morris Criticized for Disallowing Local Openers

Paige Davis is 21-year-old up-and-coming songwriter from New England who was looking forward to opening for one of her favorite national artists, Maren Morris, on Saturday, July 9th at the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion near Gilford. The Paige Davis appearance was set to transpire on the venue’s “Hazy Little Stage” sponsored by Sierra Nevada beer. The stage is located just inside the doors of the venue, and the program has been ongoing for the last few years. As people file into the New Hampshire Pavilion, they can listen to the music of a local band, and hopefully discover something.

It’s a cool program the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion has put together, with local bands opening for big-named acts all summer, including Kane Brown, Thomas Rhett, Morgan Wallen, Sam Hunt, and Luke Bryan all allowing local openers. The Tedeschi Trucks Band, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, and Willie Nelson’s traveling Outlaw Fest are also events that will be featuring local bands on the venue’s side stage.

But apparently when the team for Maren Morris caught wind that there would be a local act playing on the Hazy Little Stage, they cited a “no local openers” clause, and the performance of Paige Davis was cancelled. “Due to Maren Morris’ request for “no local* openers,” we are sad to share that we will no longer be playing the show at Bank of NH Pavilion on July 9th,” Davis said. “…local opener is in reference to the Hazy Little Stage (second stage) performers.”

Though Paige Davis is local to the New England area, she has recorded multiple singles in Nashville, and released them internationally.

When Davis announced the cancellation on social media, the situation went viral, with many going after Maren Morris for canceling the local opener. “As a local supporter of independent music, this bothers me.. Nothing against anyone.. but this absolutely is sad..” said one commenter.

“Really sad to think, a woman, who’s been fighting for woman’s rights in music, said no to a show because they wanted to use local bands for openers, a couple of which are female fronted. Come down off your high horse lady,” said another commenter.

“Very rarely do you see this. A national, well known star not wanting to let local performers play before their show….and on a separate stage to boot. WoW,” said another. This is just a smattering of the many angry comments in reaction to the cancellation.

Though fans were just looking to step up and support Paige Davis, this also put the young songwriter in a difficult place for her career, where it could be perceived she was attacking Maren Morris personally. So Paige Davis took to Facebook to clarify,

“My intentions were to let my fans, friends, and family know that it wasn’t me who cancelled the show with this short notice. I’m a huge Maren Morris fan (and even cover a few of her songs during almost every one of my shows). I’m a huge BNH Pavilion fan also. I have been playing there every summer for years. I love the venue and everyone I’ve ever come into contact with there. It was not my intention in any way for this to turn into bashing of an artist I admire or a venue that I adore.”

RJ Harding speaking for the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion also tried to do some damage control, saying. “To be clear, this was not at all Maren’s decision. We at the venue take full responsibility for this error. There was a miscommunication about clearing the activation of a secondary stage on this show from our part on the venue. The tour has activation in the plaza that conflicts with being able to have a band performing on the second stage at the same time. Had we advanced this correctly, the second stage should not have been booked in the first place and therefore would never need to be cancelled. We feel terrible about it and offered to find a replacement show for Paige to play if she wanted. To reiterate, Maren and her people had nothing to do with the cancellation. That is all on us at the venue. We are very sorry for the inconvenience to anyone for our error.”

But that is beside the point. The bigger issue here is that Maren Morris is not allowing local openers on her Humble Quest tour, while most, if not all of the other big mainstream country stars playing the New Hampshire Pavilion are. Sure, perhaps the venue made a mistake booking Paige Davis for the appearance. But if Maren Morris was allowing local openers, it would have not been a problem.

It is very difficult for women in country music to find opportunities for exposure. Programs like the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion’s Hazy Little Stage is a perfect example of an initiative that can give up-and-comers those opportunities. It also extols bragging rights for the local artists that they opened for a big national act. And this is not a situation where a national tour has to deal with the logistics of facilitating a local opener on the same stage. These performances happen well before the main performance, and one a side stage where there is no logistical issue.

Maren Morris very well may not know about the cancellation of the Paige Davis performance on July 9th. She may not even be aware that she has a “no local openers” clause. But if Maren Morris is serious about supporting her fellow women in country music, she would remove this clause not just for the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion performance, but all of her national performances where local openers are part of the presentation.

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