Twenty years and still going strong.
Country music band Lonestar will bring their 20th anniversary tour to the Southern Tier Saturday. Lead singer Richie McDonald and the rest of Lonestar will perform at the Seneca Allegany Casino in Salamanca. The tour is special to Lonestar for the milestone anniversary, but McDonald is back with the group after a short hiatus and said "It feels right to be back."
"I started back with the group in January after taking a little time off for about four years. This band has been together for 20 years," McDonald said. "We all realized that this year, being it was 20 years, was a special time for us (and) the legacy of Lonestar."
McDonald spoke with the OBSERVER in a phone interview as he was traveling through Lewiston to a show in Toronto on Friday. While driving, he spoke of the tour, the band's new single and album. While the tour has just kicked off, McDonald said the band is enjoying performing thus far.
"We've done a few shows already and it's been awesome. It's great to be back on stage and playing and having fun and laughing," he said. "We're ... getting up there singing and performing for the fans that want to come out and see us and making them laugh or making them cry with the songs that we've had over the past 20 years, some of the hits and introducing them to some of the new music as well."
While being on tour is a joy for the band, McDonald said being away from his family can be tough.
"We go out for three or four days and we come home and kiss our wives and kids and go back out and hit the road again. We've started beautiful families ... and it's hard to say goodbye," he said. "It's great that we all have supportive families that's one thing along with our careers, that's one thing we can all honestly say we're proud of. We all have kids ... but I think they all are getting to an age where they kind of understand ... what their dads do for a living and are proud of it."
Concert goers attending the concert on July 14 can expect to hear a mixture of old favorites from the band's career as well as new music from the upcoming album. McDonald also promised a few surprises in the show he would not disclose.
"One minute we'll be rocking out, the next minute we'll be hitting them with a song like 'I'm Already There' or 'Amazed.' We kind of mix it up. We do a few covers. People will be surprised the covers we do towards the end of the show," he said.
While performing, McDonald has favorite songs he likes to sing. Out of the older songs, his favorite is "I'm Already There" due to the meaning of the song.
"That song is so close to my heart because I wrote it out of a phone conversation I had with my son when he was 3 years old. He said 'Daddy when are you coming home?' right before we hung up the phone ... and just to see what that song means to the fans over the years. The men and women of the military adopted it as their song back in 2000," he said.
As for new songs, McDonald said he loves performing their new single, "The Countdown."
"I just love the energy of the song. It's almost like people have heard this song before because they're trying to sing the chorus by the second (time) and they just want to sing along so bad. It's one of those really catchy tunes," he said.
"The Countdown" will be released on July 16 on iTunes. The song can be streamed online now at www.soundcloud.com/lonestar-band/the-countdown. The single is a bit different from what Lonestar's music usually is but McDonald believes it's a good change.
"We think it's fresh and new. Lonestar wants to come back and make a splash and let people know that we're back. It is a little more edgier and a little more rock and roll for us," McDonald said. "We just didn't want to put out the same music we put out over the past 20 years. It's not a departure by any means but it is an evolution of the band ... it's taken Lonestar to a new level."
McDonald described the song as a "rocking love story."
"It's about someone trying to get back to their loved one and they're going through all these towns and counting down the minutes and seconds, the corners, the red lights, the stop signs, the turns and the twists; and he's saying it's the countdown to you," he explained.
"The Countdown" is from Lonestar's new album which, as explained by McDonald, is a mixture musically.
"The music is still country no matter how you look at it but there are some songs that have more country elements to them." he said. "We kind of mixed it up. It's always good to give the fans a little bit of everything."
All but two songs in this album, which will be released in the fall, were produced by the band.
"The music feels like us more than it ever has in our 20 year career. We think its the best album we've ever made," McDonald said.
Being on tour, the band loves traveling and coming to New York.
"Just goes to show you country music is everywhere. It's not just in Texas or California. It's coast to coast, it's sea to shining sea," he said. "We have fans everywhere and we love coming up to New York. They seem that they really appreciate the music and they appreciate you coming up."
While in New York, McDonald said the band enjoys New York food, especially chicken wings.
"Every where we go, we're connoisseurs of food. If we're in Texas, we eat the barbecue. ... New York we eat the chicken wings," he said.
Tickets for the concert are still available. They may be purchased online at www.senecaalleganycasino.com, any Ticketmaster location or at the casino's box office. The Seneca Allegany Casino is located at 777 Seneca Allegany Blvd, Salamanca. Tickets start at $35 for the 7 p.m. concert. All ages are encouraged to attend but under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
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