April 12, 2000

Lonestar: 'Amazed' nets Lonestar Grammy recognition


Lonestar music

Sunday, April 16, 4 and 7 p.m.

The Maryland Theatre

21 S. Potomac St.


Tickets cost $30 and $35, plus service and mailing charges.

For information, call 301-790-2000.

By JIM PATTERSON / Associated Press Writer

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (AP) - "Is my Frappuccino ready YET!?" shouts Lonestar drummer Keech Rainwater at an unseen minion during a break in a recording session.


Instead of his gourmet coffee drink, Rainwater is answered with laughter from lead singer Richie McDonald and keyboardist Dean Sams. He joins in, and the message is clear: Although Lonestar is one of the hottest groups in country music - thanks to the crossover hit "Amazed" - members of this hard-working band aren't even close to getting swelled heads.

cont. from lifestyle

"We've all dug a ditch before; we've all delivered pizzas," McDonald said. "We've all had less desirable jobs. ... This is a dream for us."

Lonestar was nominated for a Grammy for best country performance by a duo or group for "Amazed," which was nominated for song of the year. In addition, producer Dan Huff was nominated for producer of the year.

"I would say it's THE most significant thing to happen to us thus far," Sams said. "The Grammys is the cat-daddy of all the awards because it's all genres of music. It's probably the most prestigious awards show out there."

Band members took a break at a recording studio outside Nashville, where they are working on two new albums, to reflect on how their lives have changed since "Amazed" spent eight weeks at No. 1 last year and helped sell 2 million copies of their "Lonely Grill" album.

"We got in town yesterday, and a few of us were at the circus last night with our families," Sams said. "We got going early this morning, and we'll record all day and night. There are meetings all week long until we leave town again Thursday and go back on the road for like three weeks.

"It's a crazy schedule, but it just goes to show, be careful what you wish for."

Lonestar began when Sams and McDonald met in Texas at an audition for a job at the now-defunct Opryland USA theme park in Nashville. They moved to Nashville and formed the band with Rainwater, guitarist Michael Britt and bassist John Rich.

Before Lonestar, they called themselves Texassee. Unlike many other Nashville country groups, they earned their stripes in the honky-tonks instead of being put together by a producer and going directly to a recording studio.

And boy, did they pay their dues. Using a Jeep Cherokee and an equipment trailer, they played some 500 shows over two years.

"At first we were a cover band, just to pay the rent," McDonald said. "We spent a lot of nights in a lot of dives - places that some nights we wished that we hadn't been there.

"But we look back now and feel that those were dues we paid that were well worth it. We created a sound, writing together, and got better as musicians and writers.

"It was a chance for us to figure out who we were, and make sure that we all wanted the same thing. Seven years later, it's all paid off."

The group got noticed as the first band to play the Wildhorse Saloon, now a prominent venue in downtown Nashville. They were signed by BNA Records, and their first single "Tequila Talkin"' was a Top 5 hit.

Two successful albums were released, and the singles "No News" and "Everything's Changed" were big hits. But listeners tended to confuse Lonestar with other bands, and the group struggled to be identified with its own songs. Rich left in 1997 to pursue a solo career.

Then "Amazed," a sweeping love ballad, put Lonestar at the top of the country music world for eight weeks.

"The first three weeks it was No. 1 we were like, 'This is cool,' " McDonald said. "Then after that, we started thinking something's happening here that you only hear happening to other artists."

Rainwater adds: "We thought the computer was stuck or something."

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