band bio 2021

Lonestar is no stranger to chart-topping hits. Over the course of their 30 plus years together, the award-winning band has scored 10 No. 1 singles, including “Amazed,” — spending eight weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Chart, becoming a huge crossover hit, climbing to No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100 — and “I’m Already There,” which held steady at the top for six weeks. Michael Britt (Guitar), Keech Rainwater (Drums), Dean Sams (Keyboard) and Drew Womack (Vocals) definitely know a thing or two about delivering impactful songs. In fact, they took fans down memory lane in 2023 by re-recording their No. 1 hits on the album TEN to 1. On Lonestar’s latest, they pay thoughtful homage to the industry’s legendary female artists on Iconic, Vol. 1.

“It’s a way of sharing something that’s been heard before, but we’re putting a new spin on it,” Rainwater says. “Drew puts his stamp on it and everybody in the band brings their own interpretation to each song to make it our own. It’s really been a lot of fun. I think the fans will hear it and say, ‘Oh I recognize that song, but it’s different. It’s Lonestar!’”

Over the course of the band’s career, skilled musicianship, unerring song sense and soaring vocals have become the hallmarks of Lonestar’s distinctive musical personality. “No News,” “What About Now,” “I’m Already There,” “My Front Porch Looking In” and “Amazed” are among the 22 top ten hits that have kept them filling seats in venues around the world, including a sold-out headlining show at Nashville’s famed Ryman Auditorium in 2023 that folks are still talking about. Their chart history is impressive and includes 10 No. 1 country hits as well as the chart-topping crossover “Amazed,” which earned both Single and Song of the Year honors from the Academy of Country Music.

The inspiration for Iconic, Vol. 1. came during soundcheck when Womack sang Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time.” “I’ve always loved that song and the fact that he just pulled it out, we were like, ‘Dude, you can sing anything!’ He has no limitations as a vocalist,” Britt enthuses. “Then somebody just said, ‘Hey why don’t we do an EP of female artist songs?’ Somebody suggested everybody just pick their favorite and we’d go from there. It was so organic.”

Sams, who produces Lonestar, reveled in showcasing his longtime bandmates on this inventive project. “Lonestar has a sound and I’ve always attributed Michael Britt as being the sound of this band. He’s such a phenomenal guitar player and he carries a lot of the weight sonically. Of course, then you have Keech! He’s one of the most solid drummers around, not only live but in the studio as well. He brings so much energy to it and then there’s my little redneck piano parts,” Sams says with a self-effacing laugh. “And then I can’t say enough about Drew’s singing. He is such an unbelievable singer! He’s one of the few people that I literally believe every word he sings and that’s about the biggest compliment that I could give somebody. He makes you feel every word. In my mind, that’s what a great singer is.”

Iconic, Vol. 1 features Lonestar’s distinctive take on Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” Pink’s “Try,” Lauper’s “Time After Time,” Eurythmics’ “Here Comes the Rain Again” and Fleetwood Mac’s “You Make Loving Fun,” which is being released as the first single. “It’s one of my favorites and sonically their records never get old,” Womack says. “I can listen to those records over and over again and they just never wear out for me. We changed the arrangement to make it more of a country song.”

Sams adds: “‘You Make Loving Fun’ is such an iconic song from an iconic band and Christine McVie, she wrote the thing and obviously sang it as well. With her passing, I feel like this put even more pressure on us to make this song great. I just love our version of it! It doesn’t have all that keyboard stuff that’s going on from the original, it’s very Lonestar-ified, if that’s even a word. It sounds really cool, but still sounds modern and like Lonestar.”

When they began toying with the idea of recording a cover record, there were different approaches they could have taken, but the idea of celebrating some of their favorite female artists became a labor of love. “Some of my biggest influences growing up were female singers, particularly Shawn Colvin,” Womack says. “She had a record called Cover Girl back in late ’80s or early ’90s. I found that record and just fell in love with her versions of some of my favorites. She introduced me to so many songwriters. I’ve always wanted to cut a record of female artists that influenced me. As a young child, my mom was playing records constantly and she would always play the greats like Judy Collins and Dolly Parton. Every time I hear Judy or Dolly sing, it takes me back to my childhood.”

As a fan of the Eurythmics, Britt suggested Lonestar cover “Here Comes the Rain Again.” “I had to learn that song for a friend who was doing a showcase and I played guitar for her,” he recalls. “I’ve always liked that song and thought it would be really cool because I love minor key songs like that, and I just felt like that would be something we could transform a little bit. The biggest challenge was we didn’t want to have all that ’80s synthesizer on it. So how do you kind of make it sound like the same song without all of that because that’s a pretty prominent part? But as soon as we started playing it, it sounded like a Lonestar song. That’s the way it’s always been with us no matter what cover song we do.”

“I knew that song so well that I’m not even sure I looked at lyric sheets,” Womack adds. “That’s one that I’ve been singing forever.” Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” is definitely an iconic hit, and most bands would be hesitant to cover the popular anthem, but Lonestar embraced the challenge and delivers a potent cover that imbues the song with a fresh sense of urgency. “When Dean came up with that chord change for the intro, that totally transformed the song for me,” Britt says. “It’s a minor walkdown chord progression that isn’t on the original recording. That’s what makes the song work because it doesn’t sound like we’re a bar band playing a cover of ‘Rolling in the Deep.’ It sounds like a different song in a way which I really love. Plus, the breakdown section, we’ve got a little funky with the wah, wah guitar and stuff. There are little bits in that song that just catch me every time.” Rainwater adds a unique samba influenced breakdown that is delicious ear candy. “That’s one of my favorite moments,” the veteran drummer smiles. “We were at soundcheck jamming and we were just about to leave when I started playing that little samba thing and Dean says, “What was that that you just did?’ It was just this
little thing that I do like a samba and he said, ‘That should be the breakdown in the middle. When it’s just percussion, that should be in there.’ So we put that in and it was fun to play.”

Womack admits as lead vocalist he was hesitant about tackling the Adele hit. “Absolutely I was nervous covering a powerhouse vocalist like Adele. I thought you’d have to have a lot of guts to do that song or be very stupid,” he says with a grin, recalling how Sams had suggested they record “Rolling in the Deep.” “But I listened to it a few times and I realized that we have the same timbre. We have almost the same vibrato as far as timing so when I found the key and started messing around with it, I thought, ‘Wow! We could really take this song and make it something that a country band would do.’ After a while it just came together, and we thought it was really cool. I hope everybody does too.”

Womack says that in recording the EP they decided to specifically cover pop or rock songs instead of country, just to serve the fans something unexpected. He’s excited for fans to hear Lonestar’s interpretation of Pink’s “Try.” “I was surprised by the Pink song,” Womack says. “Once I found where I was going to land on that song, it just kind of took a life of its own.”

When recording a cover album there is always that delicate balance between giving fans what they love about a song yet offering them something new. Lonestar successfully walks that musical tightrope on Iconic, Vol. 1. “There were certain parts where we were like, ‘Alright we have to stay true to this section of the song because people will expect that,’” Sams admits. “So, there were certain parts of every song that we tried to remain true to the original, but always keeping in mind we’re Lonestar and if we were going to do it exactly like the original artist, would there really be a point in doing it?”

Though they initially began the recording process by working in their respective studios and sending the files back and forth to each other, they ultimately decided to all get together in one studio and create the EP together. That camaraderie and creative energy can be felt throughout Iconic, Vol. 1. “There’s just something magical when we are in a room together that I think elevates the songs and creates the Lonestar sound,” Sams says. “We are best when we are collaborating. The strength we have as a band is us being in a room together. Even though I’m the producer on this project, everything that I’ve ever produced on this band is a collaborative effort. The sum of all our parts is what makes us strong. I’m tickled that they trust me to put my name on it as producer, but it truly is everybody in the band contributing their input, talking through ideas and seeing what works and what doesn’t work. The magic happens when we are all being collaborative, and I think we captured magic for sure.”

The band looks forward to sharing some of these songs on their upcoming tour dates and there’s a strong possibility there are some legendary songwriters or beloved Texas acts that might be getting the Lonestar treatment on future projects. “We are open to do Iconic, Volume 2,” Sams says. “I don’t know that we’ve landed on exactly what we want the next one to be, but I’m so excited to do it because I get to do it with my bandmates who I love and respect so much. There’s just something when we get in the room together. I look forward to doing that every time we get to do it.

“As a band, we are riding high,” he continues. “We’ve had the two biggest touring years of our career. It feels new again and the fans have just given us a rebirth. We are more energized. We are better players and singers. Our show is by far the best show we’ve put out on the road and I’m really excited for the folks that are coming to see us in 2024.”

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