The Frontmen of Country enthusiastically return to center stage

By Kathleen Chambless For Clay Today
Posted 9/22/21

ORANGE PARK – Country music fans rejoiced this weekend as the Thrasher-Horne had its first show of the season, featuring The Frontmen of Country.

The group are an act made up of Tim Rushlow from …

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The Frontmen of Country enthusiastically return to center stage

Posted

ORANGE PARK – Country music fans rejoiced this weekend as the Thrasher-Horne had its first show of the season, featuring The Frontmen of Country.

The group are an act made up of Tim Rushlow from Little Texas, Richie McDonald from Lonestar and Larry Stewart from Restless Heart, all of whom are classics in the country music world. They performed Saturday night, Sept. 18, for an excited crowd after being opened for by Clay County’s Stephen Quinn.

Though the Thrasher-Horne was open despite the COVID-19 pandemic, for many members of the audience it was the first time they have been able to hear live music and experience the joys of a concert. Back when the pandemic started, Thrasher-Horne cut its capacity by 75% and many shows were canceled as CDC recommendations changed from day to day. Theatre bookings often are scheduled months in advance, so when the facility was relying on a gig that was scheduled before the pandemic, it had to get creative.

Thrasher-Horne still enforced social distancing, masks and sanitation policies, but that didn’t put a damper on spirits. They still held staff meetings in the theatre’s rooms to be prepared as the country re-opened. Outdoor activities became the norm. A cornhole tournament brought guests excitement amid lockdown scares.

With the new season approaching, the theatre has been focusing on booking what the community wants to see. Concerts have taken the focus. Live music has been one of the most missed activities in the last year, and the theatre took note. Acts like Melissa Etheridge and Clint Black will be taking center stage, with blues, jazz and country are all being represented.

Walking back into the Thrasher-Horne at full capacity after almost two years away was like a breath of fresh air. I wasn’t the only one who was enthusiastic. Long before the opening act came on, there was laughter in the lines as people collected their tickets or got drinks before the show. When Quinn came on stage, the hoots and hollers were deafening, and more than a few people were singing along to music we all missed. Quinn played a few covers as well as some original songs he’d written, amping up the crowd before the opening act, and judging by the surrounding crowd during intermission, I’d say he was a hit.

The Frontmen of Country opened the show by thanking the audience for coming out. Truthfully, they were just as desperate to perform as we were to be entertained, which is a sentiment I heard from Rushlow before the show. They were moonlighting for years, landing on aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf and working for the USO. They’d travelled all over performing oversees for U.S. troops, and despite that, they will have been working around their band’s schedules.

“We’ve known for a long time that the Frontmen was something special ... we knew there was a common thread between the three of us that is something magical,” Rushlow said. “We haven’t been able to share that with anyone but the troops. All of us wanted to bring the Frontmen to life and do this for real.”

They’re a new act and are currently recording new music, but they have 30 hits between the three of them.

“At the same time that we were excited to perform, the fanbase of country music has been so supportive and excited. The people that love ‘90s country, the people that use that as the soundtrack of their lives know that we’re a big part of that and they’re excited,” he said.

When speaking about the more laid back and unplugged show, Rushlow said: “It’s almost cooler to be cool offstage than onstage. We’re really having that much fun during our shows, it’s very real. We love what we do.”

I asked them about COVID and their experience being back on stage.

“It’s a perfect marriage of people who are dying to be entertained after being cooped up for so long, and a bunch of guys like us who are [eager] to entertain. I used to think that I’d bring a slice of home to people or remind people of where they were when they first heard one of our songs. I realize now that I needed these shows as much as they did. When COVID happened, it sort of stripped people of their therapy … I think music is the best medicine in the entire world, it’s nice to help bring that to people,” he said.

The Frontmen got together when at the beginning of the pandemic, and they feel that makes them so special and authentic. They don’t have a lot of pretenses because they started performing together again when they were ready to perform and give it their all.

“We’re tired of being tired, tired of lockdown and fatigue,” Rushlow said. “We’ve been doing shows for the past few months… but we missed performing so much, we want to let people hear us that haven’t gotten to hear us before. At the end of the night, we want to feel like we made some great friends with the audience. That’s our primary goal.”

The Frontmen of Country will continue to tour throughout the year and can be found on all social media, and at their website thefrontmenofcountry.com.

Tickets are available now for many of the upcoming shows at THcenter.org, although many COVID precautions are still in effect. They recommended masks as they share a location with a university campus, but they recognize that the community makes its own choices to stay safe. If future shows are as entertaining and enjoyable as Quinn and The Frontmen of Country, I’d suggest getting your tickets as soon as possible.

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