Country music heroes Rascal Flatts have teamed up with newly crowned country music queen Sheryl Crow to embark on a tour with country upstarts Gloriana.
The tour is due to kick off with a show in St. Louis on May 16th, and will see the all star country music collective make stops in Chicago, Boston, Austin, Cleveland, Phoenix, San Diego, Atlanta and Toronto, among other lucky locations, before wrapping up on September 21st with a show in Detroit.
“We’re thrilled to have our good friend Sheryl Crow out with us. Expect some great musical moments and surprises!” Flatts frontman DeMarcus says in a statement. “And we’re proud to have Gloriana opening. This is gonna be a show you don’t wanna miss!”
“Gary has said it so many times: you can put the record on if you just want to hear all the songs,” DeMarcus explained to The Boot. “But if you want to go to a show and be entertained, you need to put more effort into it, and we certainly have prided ourselves in doing that over the years.”
“The summer tour will be all new, except Jay and Joe Don won’t be new -– they will be the same,” Gary LeVox added.
The new tour will also have to work around the band member’s status as new fathers.
“We have really adjusted the schedule around our families so we aren’t gone a lot of the time. We work maybe three days a week. We try to make it livable, because Lord knows, if the mama ain’t happy — ain’t nobody happy!” Gary says.
In the meantime, Rascal Flatts are releasing an EP exclusively through Walmart on March 4th, which will include their new single, “Rewind,” as well as the previously released songs “Why Wait,” “Come Wake Me Up” and “Dancing on My Grave.”
Next year’s festival will be the second annual country music event, and will be held August 2-4, 2013 in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada. The Band Perry and Dean Brody were also among the first artists announced for the upcoming event, and more acts will be revealed in future months.
Last year’s festival featured acts including Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood, Kid Rock and Alabama. The event drew between 40,000 and 65,000 concertgoers, depending on which report you read, and however many people were there, they all braved inclement weather throughout much of the festival.
In a press release, Shannon McNevan, managing director/partner of presenter Republic Live 2013 Inc, said fan input contributed to improvements that will be made for the 2013 incarnation of the event.
“We weren’t joking when we said we wanted your help to make Boots and Hearts the best country festival out there, and we’re committed to doing everything we can to make that happen,” McNevan said. “Thankfully we received a boatload of input from our attendees this past summer and our audience has really helped drive the improvements to our 2013 event. As a result, we’ve incorporated free parking and tent camping for anyone who purchases a full-event general admission ticket, free access for children 12 and under and more toilets, showers and on-site experiences for people to enjoy, and we’re just getting started.”
Tickets come as three-day passes, but festival goers also can purchase one-day tickets to each day of the event.
The Boots and Hearts Festival is heralded as “the largest country music festival of its kind ever to be hosted on Canadian soil. It is a three-day celebration of music and art where music lovers of all genres can escape from the rigors of daily life, band together with thousands of other country music fans and experience a once-in-a-lifetime event they will never forget.”
It seems Rascal Flatts just can’t stop touring. Just days after announcing their first-ever trek to Australia, the country group has revealed additional dates that will keep their current “Changed” U.S. tour on the road well into 2013.
The new leg of the tour will feature stops at arenas all around the eastern half of the U.S., and will kick off January 10 at the Resch Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin. After that, the group is scheduled to stay on the road through March 2, when they perform at the BancorpSouth Arena in Tupelo, Mississippi.
In between those dates, the group will visit cities including Sioux City, Iowa; Wichita, Kansas; Terre Haute, Indiana; Columbus, Ohio; Pikeville, Kentucky and Jonesboro, Arkansas. The Band Perry will join the group as the special guest on the tour.
Bringing out The Band Perry continues a tradition of the “Changed” tour, which is to work with bands instead of solo artists. Little Big Town, Eli Young Band and Edens Edge currently are touring with the band around the country, and Flatts member Jay DeMarcus says it was a conscious decision to work with bands.
“We’d always taken solo acts out and we thought this would be a little different twist on this tour,” DMarcus told Nashville newspaper, The Tennessean. “We did some searching and Eli Young Band was available and Little Big Town was available, so it seemed like the right time to pull the trigger.”
On some dates on the current tour, all of the bands have joined Rascal Flatts onstage to perform an all-star cover of “We’re An American Band,” by Grand Funk Railroad. Flatts lead singer Gary LeVox recently spoke about all the bands playing together.
“We wanted to create something unique for [fans] with the all-band setup,” LeVox said. “We loved having our friends in Little Big Town, the Eli Young Band and Edens Edge on stage with us to perform a number together.”
Rascal Flatts are heading Down Under for the first time.
The group will headline Australia’s CMC Rocks the Hunter country music festival, which will be held March 15-17 in Pokolbin, New South Wales. Other acts appearing at the event include Band Perry, Billy Ray Cyrus, David Lee Murphy, Adam Brand, Chris Young and Dean Brody.
“People have been clamoring for Rascal Flatts for years and we’re thrilled to have them for what is sure to be another terrific CMC Rocks the Hunter,” said promoter Michael Chugg in a statement.
Next year’s festival will be the sixth annual version of the event, which bills itself as “the biggest International Country & Roots Festival outside of North America.” The lineup is a mix of Australian and international country and roots performers, and is held at Hope Estate in Hunter Valley. Hunter Valley is the oldest wine regions in Australia, and is less than a two hour drive away from Sydney. It is a 45-minute drive from Newcastle Airport.
This year’s event featured headliners Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.
Before Rascal Flatts makes the long trip Down Under, they will first finish up a U.S. tour in support of their most recent album, Changed. That album was released in April of this year, and was preceded by the hit single, “Banjo.”
The album debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 albums chart and number one on the Billboard Country albums chart. The record marked the seventh consecutive Rascal Flatts album to debut at the top position on the U.S. country charts. In Australia, the album made it’s way to number 2 on the country albums chart, and number 51 on Australia’s overall album chart.
Singer Gary LeVox previously explained the title of the album to TheBoot.com.
“It was a great title,” he said. “Everything in our career has changed. We switched record labels. Las year, we switched management companies. A lot of things have changed in the last 10 years. We thought it summed up everything.”
The titular opener, ‘Changed’, seems to present the case for a new and improved Rascal Flatts. If that’s the case, they’ve served it up a bit cold, with a dated sound complete with a guitar solo cribbed from any power ballad circa 1993. Maybe the title is an unfortunate coincidence, but it comes across as an ironic let down, and I’m not sure that it’s better if the band is unaware.
When once they were the young and interesting alternative country outfit, the pop half of their pop-meets-bluegrass sound hasn’t held up as well as its countermeasure, and Rascal Flatts seem to be slipping quite comfortably into the role of that old band that sticks around to churn out tunes like the good ol’ days.
‘Banjo’ is a step up. It still doesn’t offer anything new, but they come more into their strengths on this one, and the album begins to find a trepidatious footing.
‘Hot In Here’ is a blatant and sort of awkward attempt at a more contemporary song structure, but man, that oldschool guitar solo, though thankfully leashed on this one, really seems to hold them back from delving into different sounds.
‘Come Wake Me Up’ is a simple and effective lament to lost love, complete with all the country fixings, careful to hit the bases of alcoholism and chain smoking. Unfortunately, it never finds resolution. I wouldn’t take a guy like this back, and why should she? ‘Let It Hurt’ is a superior treatment for the same basic idea, but it still doesn’t seem completely genuine.
The second half of the album is markedly better, or at least more organic, but it also drags a little bit. Where in the first act it is only the failed experiments that stand out, nothing in the second is particularly memorable. The only thing that appears to have Changed for the band is that they’ve run out of ideas.
Rascal Flatts are at their best on ‘She’s Leaving’, with a banjo, a fiddle, and a simple chord progression–not trying too hard. The solo in this one is even pretty good. The song has attitude, it’s catchy, and it isn’t (overly) pandering.
‘Hurry Baby’ is the perfect song for the spouse of a soldier waiting for their partner to return home. Or, for the exceptionally sentimental, while waiting for them to get back from the corner store with a carton of milk. Either would hold about the same weight in the context of an album looking to pen one uninspired song for every potential listener.
‘Love Me’ features an interesting chord progression for country music, and would have been a much better opener. If the album were rearranged and tweaked only a little bit it might have done a lot to mask what are ultimately bad songs, but that’s a hard flaw to overcome.
There is a place for this sort of music, and some will say that country is the right genre for exactly this type of coddling, but good country music is set apart by the fact that it comes directly from the soul. Changed is written from a guide, and its rare moments of effect are marred by that association.
Rascal Flatts have had an eventful week. In the past seven days, the country group appeared on the ACM awards with a performance that featured both Steve Martin and a tribute to the late bluegrass great Earl Scruggs, and released their eighth studio record. But the group is not done yet.
Tonight, a new documentary featuring the band will screen at theaters across the country. “Rascal Flatts – Changed” features behind-the-scenes footage of the band along with interviews and live performances.
As of yet there has been no word as to if or when there will be a future release of the documentary.
The documentary shares its name with that aforementioned eighth album, and singer Gary LeVox explains why the title is important to the band in a recent interview with CMT.
“Everything in our life’s changed over the last 12 years,” he told the country music station. “We go from Jay’s one-bedroom apartment, cutting demos and trying to get a record deal to selling 25 million albums.”
Multi-instrumentalist and backing vocalist Jay DeMarcus elaborated on that point in the same CMT interview.
“We’ve grown up a lot,” he said. “We were kind of young and a little naïve when we first started out in the business. You learn really quickly how not only to be an artist, but you also become all of a sudden the CEO and owners of a company that you have to make major decisions about that I don’t think we were fully prepared for in the beginning.”
“Banjo,” the song the band performed with Martin on the ACM awards, is taken from Changed and is the band’s latest single; it has already become a top ten hit on the Billboard country singles chart. While the band worked on the album with longtime producer Dan Huff, the three members also took over producing duties for some songs for the first time in their career.
With their first outing recently concluded, Rascal Flatts, the country superstars, have added an additional North American leg on “Nothing Like This Tour.”
For a majority of the year the band has been out on the road. They will be returning to the road once again with a Sioux Falls, SD show on January 14. The new itinerary will focus on the middle of the country, with arena shows in 20 different major markets, which includes a handful of stops on the East Coast. The band will be wrapping their outing up in Oklahoma City on March 12.
Opening the shows will be Chris Young and Luck Bryan. Tickets will be available for the run shortly from the band’s website.
On November 16 “Nothing Like This,” the seventh studio album from Rascal Flatts, will be released. It follows “Unstoppable,” their No. 1 album from last year. It’s also the first full-length recording from the group since moving in July from Lyric Street of the Disney Music Group to Big Machine label.
Jay DeMarcus, Rascal Flatts bassist said, the past ten years have really been amazing. However we are more excited even about the next stage in our career. Scott Borchetta (CEO of Big Machine) understands us and know what we are all about. It’s wonderful having somebody who believes in your music and you and have you in their corner.