Home News Rascal Flatts’ Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney reunite for Frankfort show

Rascal Flatts’ Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney reunite for Frankfort show


Rascal Flatts may have disbanded in 2021 after more than 20 years, but two-thirds of the country music band are reuniting onstage.

Multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Jay DeMarcus and guitarist and vocalist Joe Don Rooney perform publicly for the first time since 2019 at Vet Fest 2024 on June 13 at CD&ME in Frankfort. Cover band Maggie Speaks backs them for some of Rascal Flatts’ greatest hits on Country Night.

“I’ve not done anything with (Maggie Speaks) in the past but Jay has. Jay’s the one who pulled me into this gig. I’m basically retired now,” Rooney said.

“It will be nice to hear what they do with the arrangements and performing along with them. I’m excited about that. This is a great way to reintroduce myself into the public world.”

Maggie Speaks features founder and lead vocalist Dave Calzaretta of Palos Heights and Arizona; lead vocalists Nicole Garza of Portage, Indiana, and Gregory Stewart of Chicago; guitarist Sam Varma of Orland Park; bassist Shawn Sommer of Arlington Heights; and drummer Blake Cooper of Chicago.

“When it comes to country right now people enjoy the history of Rascal Flatts,” said Calzaretta, a Northbrook native who previously lived in Naperville. “It’s one of the biggest honors we can have to play with two of the principals.”

Rascal Flatts also featured vocalist Gary LeVox.

“We experienced so much together all those years. It was quite the rocket ride. We literally toured the whole world. The milestones we hit together, the achievements and most importantly the fan base we created was incredible,” said Rooney of Nashville, Tennessee.

Rooney started 2024 with a lengthy X (formerly Twitter) post about his 2021 car wreck, which led to pleading guilty to driving under the influence, serving two days in jail after the remainder of his one-year sentence was suspended, and receiving treatment for alcoholism.

“It was early April when I started getting some ideas coming into my head and writing things down, making little work tapes. I do plan to make an album at some point,” said Rooney on Memorial Day.

“I’m in recovery for my alcoholism so I have 32 months sobriety now. (As) part of my recovery program, it’s going to be important to me to get out those emotions through song. Now I’m looking at songwriting from a different place. I’m grateful for my sobriety.”

The show, which includes guest fiddle player Dan Myers from Gary Sinise’s Lt. Dan Band, begins with an all-country set by Maggie Speaks, and concludes with DeMarcus and Rooney.

The celebrity sit-in includes “Bless the Broken Road,” “Fast Cars and Freedom,” “I’m Movin’ On” and “My Wish.”

“There’s nothing better than the feeling I get from playing ‘Life Is a Highway.’ As soon as that intro kicks in, you hear that electric guitar going. It’s a blast from beginning to end,” Rooney said.

“I want to make sure fans have a good time and leave their cares at the door.”

Vet Fest 2024’s summer concert series is presented by Vet Fest 141 Foundation, a California-based 501(c)(3) organization that donates one free ticket to a veteran, active-duty military member or first responder for every ticket purchased.

Jessi Virtusio is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.

Vet Fest 2024

When: 8 p.m. June 13

Where: CD&ME, 23320 S. LaGrange Road, Frankfort

Tickets: $10-$150; ages 21 and older

Information: 815-469-7315; cdandme.co

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