The Lonetones are an acclaimed East Tennessee band that recently marked a decade of playing together with the release of their fourth album, Modern Victims. Following up on their 2009 work, Canaries, The Lonetones continue to sift through musical influences in service of each song. Their signature melotdic Appalachian string-pop sond is certainly represented, but they have also unleashed their inner indie on this disc, incorporating electric guitar, horns and cello.
Driven by the songwriting of Steph Gunnoe and Sean McCollough, the band artfully fuses urban and rural themes and musical styles. The lyrics are fueled by a search for identity in the changing Appalachian landscape.
Sometimes you'll catch them playing banjo and mandolin. Other times, electric guitar and keyboards. They've been called modern folk, indie-folk, Americana, folk rock, folkadelic, "an Appalachian Belle and Sebastian"...
In their early years, they were often compared to revivalists such as Iris Dement or Gillian Welch & David Rawlings. But in more recent years, they have also drawn comparisons to rock bands such as Wilco & Belle and Sebastian. As they have grown as artists, their sound has become a unique mix of folk, rock, country and pop elements.
Wayne Bledsoe of the Knoxville News Sentinel says “I have no idea what to call The Lonetones. They’re acoustic musicians who don’t always play acoustic. They’re folk musicians with a love of modern psychedelia. Whatever they are, they’re great!”
Both the band’s lyrics and music speak to the conflicted nature of a region steeped in tradition while blighted by Walmarts and stripmines. They speak to generational conflicts and the inner struggles of those whose hearts and souls are tied to the mountains but also want to be set free.
Bradley Hanson of Knoxville Voice writes that “their music rings from the mountains of Appalachia with a reverent, enduring and, at times, conflicted spirit. The band mates shoulder their geography with craft and care.”
At the center of the band are married couple Steph Gunnoe (acoustic & electric guitar, vocals) and Sean McCollough (banjo, mandolin, acoustic & electric guitar, keys, vocals). They are backed by the strong rhythm section of Maria Williams (upright & acoustic bass, vocals) and Steve Corrigan (drums and glockenspiel). Recently they have added Cecilia Blair Miller on cello.
They have opened for Sam Bush, the Carolina Chocolate Drops and The Amazing Rhythm Aces, among others, and have played at Bristol Rhythm and Roots, the WDVX Camperfest, The Atlantis Music Conference, Americana Crossroads Live, The Bijou Theatre in Knoxville and the famous Blue Bird Cafe in Nashville.
They have had songs appear on several compilation CDs including, most recently, a CD called Still Moving Mountains that includes notable acts such as Kathy Mattea, Blue Highway, Del McCoury, and Everett Lilly.
They have had albums appear on several top-10 lists. Their most recent album, Canaries, appeared on several in 2009 including Wayne Bledsoe's ofThe Knoxville News Sentinel and DJ boBee Sweet's at KDHX in St. Louis MO.
Their most recent material adds a strong indie-rock influence to their already unique sound with the addition of electric guitar and keyboards. And although their sound has changed over the years, they can still pull out some foot-stompin old-time music while also pushing the boundaries of what it means to play “mountain” music in this modern age. "The Lonetones have perfected modern Appalachian music" (Alec Cunningham, Blank Magazine)
"Here I was, a local music writer and I had never heard The Lonetones live. What an idiot. I’ll know better next time, as my mouth dropped a mere 45 seconds in. I stopped what I was doing to soak in what was one of the best sets of the weekend."