A band is like a family, and losing a member is traumatic.
That’s why it’s remarkable that country groups Gloriana and Love & Theft have each lost one core member in the past two years, only to find greater success soon afterward.
The harmony-dependent, Nashville-based groups are on top of the country charts, peaking at the same time as they’ll be headlining the inaugural Labor Day Music Festival at the Gallivan Center on Monday.
The festival has a full offering of local rock bands during the first part of the day, with local and nationally touring country musicians back-to-back-to-back that evening.
Stephen Barker Liles, of Love & Theft, and Tom Gossin, of Gloriana, talked about how loss doesn’t always have to result in a sad country song.
Love & Theft • The trio Love & Theft — Liles, Eric Gunderson and Brian Bandas — nearly became a footnote in country-music history when Bandas left in 2011 after one album and one Top 10 hit, “Runaway.”
Instead, Liles and Gunderson became a duo, sticking with their name, borrowed from the title of Bob Dylan’s 2001 album. They went on to sign a new record deal, and this year released a self-titled album. “It’s a total statement of identity,” Liles said. “What we are is what we’re going to be from now on.”
The determination to stick together proved smart. “Angel Eyes,” the album’s first single, became the group’s first No. 1 hit on the Billboard country chart.
“It was validation,” Liles said. “It was so rewarding when ‘Angel Eyes’ went No. 1. It’s a long journey, and people didn’t give up on us.”
Here’s some trivia about the group: Touring drummer Chris Tyrrell met Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott in 2010 when both bands were opening acts for Tim McGraw, and the two later married. Also, Taylor Swift’s song “Hey, Stephen” was written about Liles.
Gloriana • The Grammy-winning members of The Civil Wars, Joy Williams and John Paul White, met when they attended a writing session intended to create songs for Gloriana’s debut album. “I got to see them meet for the first time and hear their first song,” said Tom Gossin, who along with his brother Mike Gossin and Rachel Reinert are Gloriana.
The group had four members until July 2011, when singer and mandolin player Cheyenne Kimball departed. Kimball previously had won the televised competition “America’s Most Talented Kid” and had a short-lived reality show on MTV called “Cheyenne.”
The exit couldn’t have come at a worse time. The quartet had just wrapped up recording what was to be its sophomore record, with Kimball’s presence all over the album.
“The whole departure threw a wrench in it,” Gossin said. After talking among themselves and the record company, the group decided to shelve the entire album and re-record another.
The re-recorded album, “A Thousand Miles Left Behind,” was released in late July, and what Gossin called a better album produced the band’s first Top 10 single on the Billboard charts, “(Kissed You) Good Night,” which eventually hit No. 2.
“It’s really nice to have that validation with a hit song,” said Gossin, who co-wrote the song with Nashville hit-maker Josh Kear.
“Rachel and Mike and I were the original members,” Gossin said. “We were Gloriana for a whole year before Cheyenne. I don’t know what it was for her. I wish her the best.”
With a hit song, the best seems to be ahead for Gloriana.
little bit country, a little bit rock ’n’ roll
The Labor Day Music Festival will feature a day of rock bands and a night of country music.
When • Monday, Sept. 3, at 11 a.m.
Where • Gallivan Center, 239 S. Main St., Salt Lake City
Tickets • $25 at SmithsTix
11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. • Young Electric
12:45-1:15 p.m. • Of Earth Inside (formerly known as Melodramus)
1:45-2:45 p.m. • American Hitmen
3:30 -4:45 p.m. • Royal Bliss
5-6 p.m. • Bootleg Boulevard
6:30-7:30 p.m. • Jagertown
8-9:15 p.m. • Love and Theft
9:45-11 p.m. • Gloriana