Lonestar brings ’10 to 1′ album of double digit No. 1 country hits to Hollywood Casino

Hear our full conversation on my podcast “Beyond the Fame.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Lonestar at Hollywood Casino (Part 1)

Their new album “10 to 1” features 10 country hits that made it all the way to No. 1.

On April 15, Lonestar plays Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in West Virginia.

“We’ve been lucky enough to have ten No. 1 songs, so what we’ve done is [compile them], we’ve never had all ten of our No. 1 songs all in one place,” founding keyboardist and vocalist Dean Sams told WTOP. “To take it a step farther, we re-recorded those hits and put a fresh spin on them. … This is by far the best show we’ve ever taken out on tour.”

Sams formed the band in 1992 with Richie McDonald (lead vocals), Keech Rainwater (drums), Michael Britt (lead guitar) and John Rich (bass), who later formed Big & Rich.

“I’m from Garland, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, and I had moved to Nashville be a solo artist, but it didn’t take very long to figure out … that I’m not nearly good enough,” Sams said. “I figured I’ve got another way I can do it, I’ll just put together a band. … I’ll find great singers and other great players and I’ll put a band together. Lonestar is a direct result.”

Their self-titled debut album “Lonestar” (1996) included their first No. 1 hit, “No News.”

“It’s kind of a sad song in the sense that the guy gets left by his girl and he doesn’t know why,” Sams said. “He’s sitting around thinking she’s coming back. ‘I haven’t heard anything yet, but I’m sure some different things happened like she got derailed,’ he’s coming up with all these scenarios that couldn’t be further from the reasons why she hasn’t come back.”

Their second album “Crazy Nights” (1997) featured two more No. 1 hits, “Come Cryin’ to Me” and “Everything’s Changed,” while their third album “Lonely Grill” (1999) delivered their career song, “Amazed” (1999), ranked on CMT’s Top 100 Country Songs of All Time.

“Love in general is the universal thing we’re all looking for,” Sams said. “We’re all looking for love … and ‘Amazed’ says it so well, how somebody feels when they’re truly in love with somebody else. … It’s just such a universal song, it says it so well, it has a great melody, a great harmony and the lyric is just spot on. I think that’s why it did what it did.”

The album also featured three other No. 1 hits with “Smile,” “Tell Her” and “What About Now” (2000), an adventurous love song about living and loving spontaneously.

“Lyrically, coming up with a cool way to say something: ‘The sign in the window said, ‘For sell or trade,’ on the last remaining dinosaur Detroit made, $700 was a heck of a deal for a 400-horse-power jukebox on wheels,’ lyrically it’s just so good,” Sams said. “It’s a song about being spontaneous, being with the one you care about, living life and having fun.”

Their fourth album “I’m Already There” (2001) delivered an iconic title track, which was written prior to 9/11 but quickly took on a new meaning for military service members.

“The song was written from the perspective of us on the road … we missed out on a lot of birthdays and first days of school,” Sams said. “9/11 happened about the time that song was getting its legs and it really took on a new meaning with the military. Diane Sawyer touted ‘I’m Already There’ as the unofficial anthem for the military and their families.”

Their “Greatest Hits” (2003) included a new No. 1 release “My Front Porch Looking In.”

“You start going, ‘What’s next?’ instead of just stopping, turning around and looking at what’s really important, what you have in your hands, what is and should be most important, which is the people you hold most dearly,” Sams said. “It’s not saying you can’t look forward and better yourself, but make sure you keep your eye on the prize: family.”

Their 10th and final No. 1 hit came with “Mr. Mom” (2004), chronicling a stay-at-home father realizing, “Pampers melt in a Maytag dryer, crayons go up one drawer higher.”

“Whoever is taking care of the kids, I don’t care if it’s a guy or a girl, it’s a hard gig,” Sams said. “I don’t think you realize it until you’re in charge 24/7, so from our perspective, this was the ultimate praise to the moms out there for all the hard work they do and the ultimate kick in the butt to guys like, ‘I’m stupid, I thought that was easy and it’s not.'”

In addition to their No. 1 hits, the band also has plenty of other great songs, including “You Walked In,” “With Me,” “Not a Day Goes By,” “Unusually Unusual,” “Let’s Be Us Again,” “Class Reunion (That Used to Be Us),” “You’re Like Coming Home” and “Mountains.”

Which is his favorite song that didn’t quite go to No. 1?

“We re-recorded Mark Cohn’s ‘Walking Memphis,” Sams said. “We got tied in quickly with St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and would do benefits. … We’re in this hospital room setting up, doing soundcheck and just started playing that. … Next thing you know we’re doing it unrehearsed. The head of promotion … said, ‘God, y’all should record that!'”

In 2021, lead singer McDonald left to form the trio Frontmen of Country with Tim Rushlow of Little Texas and Larry Stewart of Restless Heart. He was replaced by Drew Womack of Sons of the Desert, who sang background on Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance.”

Regardless of the lineup, Lonestar is still going strong after all these years.

“We’ve been so blessed with having so many different songs that touched people and hit people for different reasons at different times,” Sams said. “We’ve never taken for granted the fact that fans still show up to the shows every day, singing the words, standing, energetic and excited to see us. We’re 30 years into this deal, so it’s pretty exciting.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Lonestar at Hollywood Casino (Part 2)

Hear our full conversation on my podcast “Beyond the Fame.”

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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