Lonestar state of mind

Thu, 09/06/2007 - 4:22pm
By: Emily Baldwin

Country outfit comes to town Saturday


This weekend will be one of the last opportunities music fans will have to see country music band, Lonestar, with the remaining members of its original lineup. Richie McDonald, the group’s lead singer, will perform his last show with the band on November 7 before moving on to pursue other opportunities.

The concert, which will take place at The Villages Amphitheater in Fayetteville, is scheduled for Saturday night. It is the final concert in the Fayetteville amphitheater’s summer concert series, and promises to be one of the best yet.

Lonestar formed in 1992 under the name Texasee due to the group’s heritage (they were all from Texas) and where they met (Nashville, Tennessee). The band originally consisted of five members including lead singer McDonald; guitarist Michael Britt; drummer Keech Rainwater; keyboardist Dean Sams; and bass guitarist/co-lead vocalist John Rich. Rich later left the band in 1998 to pursue a solo career before becoming one half of the country duo Big & Rich.

The band played their first show in Nashville, Tenn. where a booking agent heard them and added them to his roster. He sent them on the road to tour the nation, performing 500 shows in two years.

In 1994 the band, which by this point had renamed themselves Lonestar, signed with BNA Records and released their first album a year later. They achieved their first hit with the single “Tequila Talkin’,” which peaked at number 8 on the U.S. Billboard’s Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.

Their second album, “Crazy Nights,” further established their place in the world of country, but it was their third undertaking, “Lonely Grill,” that truly put them on the map. The 1999 album’s second single, “Amazed,” established them as successful crossover artists as it spent eight weeks at number 1 on the country charts before becoming number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The surprise success of the ballad made Lonestar the first country act to top both the Hot Country Songs and Hot 100 charts since 1983, when Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton accomplished the same feat with “Islands in the Stream.”

Lonestar has continued to record and perform across the nation over the years, and has been in the studio working on their 10th album, set to be released around Christmas of this year. The band has produced numerous hits including “Smile,” “Tell Her,” “I’m Already There,” “What About Now,” “My Front Porch Looking In” and “Mr. Mom.”

This weekend’s show will be one of the final times the four remaining members of Lonestar will perform together. “Richie, our lead singer, he decided to leave the band at the end of the year,” said Britt in a recent telephone interview with The Citizen. “He’s going to go and pursue other things. He’s written a bunch of songs, so he’s probably going to explore some avenues to get more of his songs out there and I think he’s going to be on [pianist] Jim Brickman’s Christmas tour as well. He’s got some irons in the fire and wants to do some different things.”

And what do the other band member’s think of McDonald’s departure? “At the risk of repeating ourselves, it’s probably a good thing,” said Britt. “We’ve done a lot and we’ve accomplished a lot as a band, but I think maybe it is a good time for him to try to do some other things and for us to try to move on as well.”

So what does the future hold for Lonestar without McDonald leading the group? “In a couple weeks we’ll be making the announcement, but we will have a new lead singer starting after Richie leaves.” The as-yet unnamed replacement has already recorded with the group for their forthcoming Christmas album. Britt says the new singer isn’t someone who has already made a name for himself in music.

Britt says the band still enjoys playing their mega-hits like “Amazed,” “I think we’ll always enjoy playing them...those are songs that people react to. And when you’re up on stage, that’s all you really want. You want to play and have somebody react to what you’re doing. So anytime we can play songs that everybody knows and sings along with that’s always a bonus.”

Britt asks that everyone come check out the show this Saturday, “This may be the last chance to see our current lineup.”

“It’s really the crowds that make the shows memorable for us. If the crowds are getting into it, if they’re having a good time then that makes a good show no matter where we are,” said the guitarist.

Lonestar will perform at The Villages Amphitheater on Saturday, Sept. 8. Gates will open at 7 p.m., opening act Liz Carlisle will begin at 8 p.m. and Lonestar will take stage at 9 p.m. Tickets for reserved seats are $40 in advance and $45 at the door and lawn seats are $35 in advance and $40 at the door. Advance tickets can be purchased online at www.villagesamphitheater.com or by calling Fayetteville Main Street at 770-719-4173.

God & Country Night, a free community worship service to celebrate patriotism with song and music, will be held on Sept. 9.

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