The Louisville skyline and the mighty Ohio River at their backs, The Hi-Tops burst onto the Jeffersonville RiverStage for their “final” performance, last Sun. evening. Pulsating with the energy of their youth, the band opened with a rousing cover of Duffy’s “Mercy.” Lead singer and guitarist Remington (Remi) Maxwell, sans guitar but with tambourine in hand, pranced in front of the group of youths in front of the stage. This number would swell as the evening went on.
Before the second song, Maxwell apologized to the crowd for the “old, kiddiness,” of the next group of songs. She thanked the audience for “sticking with us” as the band “matured.” They zipped through “Change,” an original composition, followed by “Gimme Some Loving,” a Spencer Davis Group song that really featured the keyboard playing of Ally Whitlow, and the rhythmic bass playing of her younger sister, Bayley Whitlow.
The next song, “Hey, Mickey” once again featured the keyboards of Ally, and the drum-playing of Madison (Maddie) Cunningham.
A short time later, lead guitarist Jessica (Jessie) Madill got the chance to show off her voice, singing lead vocals for “Hello.” She would also sing lead toward the end of the show, for Grace Potter’s, “Paris,” demonstrating a strong voice.
The show had opened under mostly cloudy skies, with a hint of rain in the forecast. By the show’s sixth song, “Walking on Sunshine,” the clouds broke open, and the sunshine spilt through and upon the crowd. Thoughts of rain would go away. . . . at least for a while.
During that song, and simultaneously, Remi and Bayley, had started strutting back and forth in front of the youth assembled in front of the stage. Was it their “dancing” which had encouraged the sun to come back out?
By the middle of the show, the Hi-Tops would play one of my personal favorites: New York Water. There must have been close to 100 young people in front of the stage by this time. Remi exhorted them to sing the chorus of the song. The crowd eagerly cooperated. It was one of the show’s highlights.
A short time later, Remi was asking all of the family members of the Hi-Tops . . . every parent, grandparent, sister, brother, cousin, niece, nephew, etc., to stand and be recognized. Then Remi called attention to the band's manager, Kim Elliot, who was responsible for the approximate 400 career bookings of the band. Then Remi dedicated the next song to them, a song called “The Climb,” by Miley Cyrus. During the song, Ally, Bayly and Remi slipped into the crowd. Remi went into the upper echelons of the RiverStages’ seating and serenaded her father and mother, Mark and Angie Maxwell, for a couple of moments before heading back down to the stage. I would later learn that both were responsible for Remi’s showmanship and gregarious nature.
Remi would be rejoined on the stage by her father, Mark, in just a few short minutes, as he would help the band sing Journey’s, “Don’t Stop.” Remi injected a little humor into her introduction of her father to the crowd by saying “he is just like me, except he has curly hair; and he is a man!”
The song showcased the power of both Remi and Mark Maxwell’s voices and was another definite highlight of the evening.
Near the end of the night, Remi picked up an acoustic guitar and started playing “Make This Place Your Home.” The gals came out from behind their instruments and huddled up to two microphones. Then, Remi pointed out something special about each girl. For Bayley, she remembered all of her “bathroom breaks” that the youngest member used to take. For Ally, it was all of her “techno-things” on the keyboards. For Jessie, it was her stellar guitar playing. For Maddie, it was for “saving her butt” by helping Remi with all of the words to the songs.
For their last song, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” the dark clouds had returned with the threat of rain. It was almost as if Mother Nature was going to “cry” at the last song of the Hi-Tops. Heaven knows that there were plenty of moist eyes at the RiverStage as the Hi-Tops concluded for the evening.
Photo by: Sandy Madill