Restless Heart is one of those ’90s country bands that you hear mentioned in the same breath as Billy Ray Cyrus and Reba McEntire. They’re also one of the most determined bands to ever grace the stage.
Members Larry Stewart, Dave Innis, John Dittrich, Paul Gregg and Greg Jennings formed the band in 1984 and performed for almost 10 years, releasing several hit records before disbanding in 1994. Each member followed his own path, often through high-profile work with artists such as Vince Gill and new bands of their own. But in 2004, those paths led them back to the band they grew up in.
Now the reunited band is coming to the Oxford Civic Center Saturday, bringing with them hometown hero and country musician Trae Edwards, who grew up in Oxford and is making his first return to the area as a performer and recording artist.
We spoke with Restless Heart keyboardist Dave Innis about the band’s hiatus and reunion, and what time apart can do to bring a good team back together.
Q: Nobody expects to have a big career when they start out. Did you have any idea you’d still be together even a year later, let alone 30 years later?
A: I didn’t think I’d live past 30 (laughs). I was 23 years old when this band got together, and I had no idea. I don’t think any of us did. We had a great record label that put a lot of TLC on us through the years and we were fortunate enough to tour with megastars in the business, and we built a fanbase that’s continued to support us throughout the years. We’re blessed to still be together and making good music.
Q: Why did you guys go on hiatus?
A: Larry wanted to try a solo career, and those years, there was a lot of pressure on us. We were away from home a lot and it was just time for everybody to go their separate ways and regroup. Everybody had something they wanted to try.
Really, the split may be the reason that we’re now back together stronger than ever, because we did take the time to go our own way and realize the beauty of what we have as a group. We’re definitely stronger as a five-piece group than we ever were as individuals. I always marvel at how blessed I am to be playing with guys that have really influenced my playing and me as a person.
Q: What brought you back together?
A: The quality of the work that we did together, and the friendships we forged through the good times and bad. We had this magical chemistry onstage when we perform together. It really is a joy to go to work with this bunch of guys.
Q: Leading up to the point where you went on hiatus, you’re these young guys trying to move forward. Then you all went off and did your own things, and come back as adults. Does it change how you work together now that you’ve all grown up and have more experience?
A: Well, that nails it, right there. We came back together and we aren’t trying to prove anything, just trying to support and encourage and enjoy each other’s contribution. There’s a point in life where you just appreciate other people, and that’s where we’re at now. It’s a great place to be.
Q: What do you think of where modern country music is going?
A: I think that every generation has its time and opportunity. I think these young artists are making the most out of what they have to work with, which is everything they listened to when they were growing up, and they’re putting their own stamp on it. My hat’s off to everyone out there making music and having their heyday. They’ll look back in 20 years and say, “Boy, those were the good ol’ days.” Everybody’s got a good ol’ days.
Q: What do you want to tell area Restless Heart fans?
A: We’re looking forward to coming down and playing, having a great time, bringing back some memories and playing some new stuff and throwing in some surprises. It’s going to be a great time.
IF YOU GO...
WHAT: Restless Heart and Trae Edwards in concert
WHEN: Saturday at 7 p.m.
WHERE: Oxford Civic Center, 401 Mccullars Lane
TICKETS: $35 for floor seats, $25 for middle level and $20 for top level. Tickets can be purchased at the Civic Center.