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Rascal Flatts brings its country to Tahoe

Rick Chandler

Welcome to the era of country pop.

Yes, country music has left the farm and landed in the suburbs. Rascal Flatts has that kind of a sound – a pleasing combination of melody, harmony and good natured boy-next-door appeal that doesn’t exactly remind one of Merle Haggard or George Jones, but allows them to strike a chord with country fans, rock devotees and soccer moms alike.

Indeed, two-thirds of Rascal Flatts is from, of all places, Ohio. That’s hardly the birthplace of country music. But if you corner them, Rascal Flatts will tell you that they are country all the way.

“We have no aspirations to be crossover artists, really,” said lead vocalist Gary LeVox in an interview on AOL. “If some of our songs happen to find a crossover audience, then that’s tremendous. But we don’t set out to do that. We’re in country music for a reason.”

Rascal Flatts, with Jason Aldean, takes the stage at Harveys Outdoor Concert Series on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 3 and 4.

Jay DeMarcus was born on April 26, 1971, in Columbus, Ohio, and knew by the age of 10 that he wanted to write and perform songs. He moved to Nashville in 1992 to look for work as a musician, and five years later convinced his second cousin, LeVox (also from Columbus) to join him in Nashville. DeMarcus met guitarist Joe Don Rooney, a native of Picher, Okla., when they both got jobs in Chely Wright’s band. Meanwhile, DeMarcus and LeVox were playing in a Nashville bar with a part-time guitarist. When their guitarist couldn’t make it to a show one weekend, DeMarcus invited Rooney to sit in. Happy with the resulting sound, they recorded some demos and signed with a Disney imprint, Lyric Street.

Beginning in early 2000, they sent three glossy, pop-flavored songs into the Top 10: “Prayin’ for Daylight,” “This Everyday Love” and “While You Loved Me.” Though held in contempt by traditionalists, the trio sold more than 500,000 albums. A late-blooming fourth single, “I’m Movin’ On,” reached a more mature audience, propelling their self-titled debut album to platinum status and spawning an inspirational book of the same name.

“These Days,” the first single from their 2002 album “Melt,” hit No. 1. They also won the CMA Horizon Award in 2002 and toured heavily with Toby Keith. In 2003, they won their first Vocal Group of the Year award from the CMA. The trio also caused a ruckus that year when Rooney appeared naked from behind in their music video, “I Melt.” The follow-up single, “Mayberry,” reached No. 1 in 2004. That same year, DeMarcus married Allison Alderson.

In 2006, the trio released “Me and My Gang” and played for more than a million fans on their tour. Hits from the album include “What Hurts the Most,” and “I Wish.” That same year, Rooney married Playmate of the Year Tiffany Fallon. They also had a country hit with “Life Is a Highway,” from the animated movie, “Cars.”

The group’s new album, “Still Feels Good,” will be released in September.


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