Lonestar minus one | VailDaily.com

Lonestar minus one

Ted AlvarezVail, CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily

Few bands can survive the loss of a lead singer, but for country band Lonestar, it merely sharpened their resolve to keep on truckin. Singer Richie McDonald will leave at the end of 2007 to pursue a solo career, but Lonestar is already busy planning for their next incarnation. I think when the announcement was first made it was a shock and stressful at the time, but now its to the point where were busy making plans for the future, says guitarist Michael Britt. Were not ready to quit playing music, and wed like to keep doing it as long as we can. Were moving forward and hes doing his thing. But before McDonalds departure, the band will continue playing through the end of the year. Since its a farewell of sorts for this version of the band before Lonestars inevitable rebirth, the energy and anticipation at the bands concerts have been amplified.

Weve got such a busy touring schedule the next couple of months the shows have been great, and the crowds have been really responsive, Britt says. I think it makes it really exciting for people out in the audience because they know (this version of Lonestar) wont last forever.Lonestar formed in 1992 in Nashville, but all its members are from Texas, so they took the nickname of their home state. McDonald, Britt, Keech Rainwater (drums) and Dean Sams (keyboards) broke big on country radio with singles like Amazed, Smile, Tequila Talkin and Im Already There. They stood out in shiny Nashville with their Texas grit.I dont know that we did anything consciously, Britt says. (We) had Austin blues, rural Texas country and big-city rock. We took those three elements and mixed them together thats the direction we came from. We werent very pop-oriented; it was more this bluesy country thing.Lonestars recent album Mountains stands as their last will and testament for thsi version of the band, but Britt says the groundwork has already been laid for the future of the band including a new singer whos identity will have to remain a secret for now.Its a challenge for the rest of us it doesnt happen very often that a band stays together after losing the singer, Britt says. Were not ready to announce anything, but (this person) fits in very well and has a great voice, and isnt just a copy of Richie. Well be brand new while (being) true to the things weve done in the past.Britt says theyll accomplish forming a new identity buy using both songs written by the band and outside songs written for the band.The record label wants to keep doing what works, keep milking that cow, Britt says. But we were most successful when it was a little more democratic, whether we chose our own songs or not. We want to represent ourselves, but we can do that with outside songs, too.

But for now, Britt says the band is having fun giving it their all and making sure their last live shows with McDonald are their best.Some venues are magical after all these years on the road, theyre still beautiful, he says. Often, theres no real rhyme or reason you think a show wont be so good but its the best gig ever. Its all about the people and the fans.If we can get them engaged, weve won the battle.Arts & Entertainment writer Ted Alvarez can be reached at 748-2939 or talvarez@vaildaily.com.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado

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