Full of Life
By Dan MacIntosh
Lonestar is slated to appear at Morongo Casino Resort & Spa on July 19 in support of its most recent release, Life as We Know It, which may be one of the easiest albums this veteran country band has ever recorded together.
“Honestly, it was a really relaxing experience,” concurs guitarist Michael Britt. “We produced it ourselves,” he continues, “and there wasn’t a lot of pressure from outside the band to make it. It was just something we wanted to do. We wrote a lot of the songs for it, and we kind of knew what we were looking for. We found the songs we felt the best about and went in and recorded it. The recording part went so smoothly, it was almost, like, uneventful in that everything we wanted to do just kind of fell in to place.”
Life as We Know It also marks the return of lead singer Richie McDonald, who led the band through its most commercially successful period, before briefly leaving the group at the end of 2007. Now, with McDonald back in the fold, the group just somehow seems complete again.
“Since Richie’s been back,” says Britt, “it does feel like we’re back to normal and sound kind of like we’re supposed to sound like. It’s always come so easy for us anytime we play together.”
One other big reason Lonestar is so happy with their career these days is that they now retain a degree of independence when it comes to making important artistic moves. “A lot of times, you have an A&R person at the label wanting you to do things you’re not entirely into,” Britt explains. “That’s the cool thing about where we’re at now; we kind of get to make a lot of these decisions ourselves.”
Additionally, Lonestar is especially happy with the opportunity to come back to Southern California. And even though the band was one of the top headliners at the recent SoCal Stagecoach festival, back at the end of April, this established country group is already returning to the state for yet another headlining slot.
“We actually do really well out in California,” says Britt, “all the way up and down the state. I don’t know why over the years we tend to get some decent crowds there. We’ve played in San Diego and Del Mar a few times. We’ve played Ventura a few times. We’ve performed all up and down the coast, and even inland now in some of the new casinos they’ve opened up. We’ve played Palm Desert a number of times as well. We have some good fans out there that come out and see us every time we go.”
Surprisingly, Lonestar has been able to work in a healthy selection of new songs from Life as We Know It into its current live show. “I believe we have four or five new songs in the set,” Britt says. It’s not easy for a group that’s had so many chart hits over the years to introduce new songs into its act. After all, this group has had number one hits with “No News,” “Come Cryin’ to Me,” “Amazed” and “Smile”—all songs they simply cannot get off stage without performing. “We have so many hits we just have to do,” Britt agrees. “We just worked up a brand new show not even a month ago, so we’re still fine tuning it every time we do a show. By the time we get out there [to Morongo] we should be pretty solid. The shows we’ve been doing lately have just been so great, I can’t wait to get out and play some more.”
For a band that was founded way back in 1992, one of the big keys to enjoying performing is simply keeping things fresh.
“We’ve been doing it so long,” says Britt, “that any time we work up a new show it’s exciting for us because we change a little bit of the arrangements on some of the old songs, change the order and add some new songs. A lot of times during an hour-and-a-half show there’s kind of a lull, but this new show that we’ve worked up, doesn’t have that at all.”
With life as they know it in Lonestar, there is simply never a dull moment.
Lonestar at Morongo Casino Resort and Spa, 49500 Seminole Dr., Cabazon. (951) 755-5391; www.morongocasinoresort.com. Fri, July 19. 9PM. Tickets $35-$55. All ages.