Interview: Celebrating 20 Years With Lonestar

We all have that one artist/group that no matter how many times you change out your playlist on your iPod, they always make the cut to the new playlist.  Lonestar is that group for me.  They have always been a favorite of mine, with an amazing 22 years in the business and celebrating their 20th Anniversary together as a group, I was extremely excited, and a tad nervous to be able to have a chance to do an interview with them at the Turning Stone Casino and Resort Showroom on their recent visit to Central New York.

Lonestar - Turning Stone
Lonestar – Turning Stone

Kathy Stockbridge: Happy Anniversary you guys! Twenty years are amazing…what is that you guys credit as your secret to longevity?

Lonestar: Beer and pizza…restraining orders…arm wrestling…lots of things…sense of humor mostly.

KS: Exactly…think that’s it!! One of my favorite songs of yours is “I’m Already There”..tell me a little about the process of writing that, what it means to you, and how did it evolve?

LS: ( Richie McDonald) It evolved out of the lives we live on the road away from our families and being gone. We had been gone about six weeks and I called home one night, and our kids were little back then, Brett was four and that sweet little voice says “Daddy When You Coming Home?” and that’s where the expression came from. Ya know, it’s a song we live night after night and we dedicate it to the men and women in our military.

KS: Yes, the song evolved into a new meaning afterwards. It began as a song about your lives on the road and then after playing overseas for the military it took on a whole new meaning.

LS: The song came out in 2001 right before 9/11 and they spend a lot more time away from their families than we do and it just made a connection with their families while being away.

KS: It’s a beautiful song, true hit. Another favorite is “Front Porch Looking In” , one of my favorite videos.

LS: That was Trey Fanjoy I believe. She had done “Amazed” for us and “Smile” also for us. Great director in Nashville, she shot out just past Leiper’s Fork in Nashville at the time seemed like in the middle of nowhere …we were going “where in the heck are we”, now I live somewhat close to there so it doesn’t seem so far out there any more. Such as great video because it allowed us to be outstanding in our field…we really were out standing in a field…but then they had that awesome house they filmed all the family scenes and stuff with the carrot top and all..then downtown Nashville they built a façade of the same house and the people are looking through it and see us in the field and then we’re in the city..it was a pretty cool concept.

KS: You also did a best hits album where you did a cover of Marc Cohen’s “Walking in Memphis”. I absolutely love that song, …it’s along the same lines of your music…it’s heartfelt…talk t me a little about what made you choose that one?

LS: The first two years we were together we played clubs and bars for four or five nights a week, and so we had four hours of music to play and that was one of the songs we would play right from the beginning. After we got our record deal we stopped doing all the cover songs, but cut to a few years later and we’re in Memphis, TN getting ready to do a benefit for St. Jude’s down on Beale Street, so during our soundcheck we thought this would be a good time to do “Walking in Memphis” because we were right there on Beale…so we started doing it. One of the label guys that was there for the St. Jude’s show said ya’ll should record that. We started doing it in our live shows, and it just became something we wanted to put out.

KS: So you’ve done 20 years (as Michael whispers t me…22)..I mean 22 years of music, with hit after hit…is there any collaboration you would still like to do at this point in your careers?

LS: With other writers?

KS: Other writers, artists…you see a lot of inter mixing these days with rap and country and rock and country…did you do a Crossroads yet?

LS: We’ve never done a Crossroads…we talked about doing one with Matchbox 20 but we couldn’t schedule it.

KS: Oh…we need to do that.

LS: You need to make that happen Kathy!! Any of the people on these walls (as they point to the posters at the Turning Stone of all the great artists that have played there)…(sure wish I could arrange it for them..would love to see that)

KS: Okay..I’ll see what I can do!! Okay getting the sign that I need to wrap this up…do you guys mind doing my social speed round…a series of questions that have nothing to do with music and give insight into your lives as normal joes?

LS: Sure

KS: You are on the road and see this…you make the bus driver pull over.

LS: Lotta Burger!!! (in unison)

KS: If given the chance, your crew would say you are __________.

LS: AWESOME!!!!! ..fun…witty..incredibly handsome…incredibly talented…demanding…(and a few others I promised to edit out )

KS: What are you listening to on your iPod right now?

LS: New Tom Petty album…the new Black Keys…

KS: Most outrageous place you’ve played?

LS: The Gorge…it wasn’t outrageous but it was incredible….outrageous would be the air craft carrier…USS Truman in Ft. Lauderdale..it was cool.

Completing the interview, the guys took a moment to say hi to our readers and give their opinion on live music…

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8X2RW1-anE]

After such a fun interview with what obviously is a fun-loving group of guys, I couldn’t wait to see their live performance. With a mix of their Grammy award-winning hits and some new music on the set list, it was bound to be a stellar performance.

Opening with my personal favorites No News, Front Porch, and Mr. Mom, they came out of the gate strong. They were as personable with their audience as they had been with me, cracking jokes left and right. It was more than obvious to me why these four men had weathered the test of time. Not only were they amazing musicians, but they truly loved their audience and what they did.

It was their new music though that really struck a chord with me. They are the most amazing songwriters and composers. My favorite new song has to be “Just The Rain”.  It is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. They write and compose the most beautiful ballads ever. They are so heartfelt. They say how we feel through music and words in a way that touches each of us as though they wrote the song personally for us. That is a gift. Writing catchy tunes is one thing, delivering heartfelt emotion, a whole different ballgame. It elevates them to a league all their own.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgDVLzKJUIs]

As they began singing “Walking In Memphis” I was super stoked. Marc Cohen’s song was done absolute justice. Some songs when covered are good, but not right for those doing the cover. That was not the case in this instance. Their soulful rendition nailed it.

As they closed the show with The Beatles “Get Back” they had the crowd on their feet dancing along and cheering for more as they left the stage. When they returned to the stage for the encore, Richie began to serenade the front table with their Grammy Award winning song, “Amazed”. It’s this personal touch that makes a really good show, a great show. It’s the interaction and connection of performer and audience that I look for when reviewing a show. A really great show makes that connection and makes their audience feel like they were part of the show.

Lonestar - Turning Stone
Lonestar – Turning Stone

It was the final number though that really was the icing on the cake. They closed out their show with a mash-up of a rock medley that I have to say was the best closing numbers I’ve ever heard performed. With a mix of Pink Floyd’s, “Another Brick In the Wall” ZZ Top’s “Gimme All Your Lovin,” Thin Lizzy’s “Boy’s Are Back in Town” and finishing it out with Kiss’s “Rock and Roll All Night” they demonstrated to me why they are Grammy award-winning artists and performers, as they incited the crowd and left them on a musical high that no drug could ever achieve.

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Set List:
No News> Front Porch> Mr. Mom> If It Wasn’t For You> Coming Home> Mountains> Everything’s changed> Already There> Pretty Good Day> You Walked In> Tell Her> Just the Rain> Memphis Party All Day> What About Now> With Me> How Can She Be> Get Back/No News Reprise> Amaze> Rock Medley