TRICK PONY - WITH A HIT "LIKE THIS"

Story by David Scarlett

Ira was sitting by the pool with all those bikini-clad women throwing themselves at him," laughs Heidi Newfield, Trick Pony's lead singer, ribbing bass player Ira Dean. "And by 11:30 that night, he was laid out on the couch going, 'I can't go anymore ... leave me alone!' "

"I had to take vitamins!" interjects Ira with a smile, explaining how he made it through a torturous day of shooting the video for the group's second single, "On A Night Like This," which is already screaming up the charts.

But who said show business was easy?

Fortunately, Heidi, Ira and guitarist Keith Burns rose to the occasion and survived a tough day of beautiful people hanging all over them while shooting in the California hills. As the saying goes, somebody's got to do it.

" 'On A Night Like This' was a fun video," smiles Heidi. "We shot it in L.A. at this really cool, funky-looking home. We filled it with people having a big party and just filmed it. It was great fun."

Since the success of the group's first single, "Pour Me," Trick Pony has had a lot of fun. They've played their first Fan Fair in Nashville, become friends with some of their musical heroes and received fan response beyond anything they ever imagined during their days as a honky-tonk-playing road band.

"We were in New Berlin, Ill., the other night and played the new single ..." begins Keith.

"And they started hollering at the top of their lungs, 'Play that song again!' " chimes in Heidi. "So we did."

"And they went nuts!" grins Keith.

That night the group had been contracted for a 75-minute show, but ended up playing over two hours! As it turns out, that's a frequent occurrence for the band that likes to give fans more than they expect.

"If we've driven 10 hours to get there, we might as well have fun," explains Ira. "You wait 10 hours on a bus to cut loose, it's hard to stop at the normal time."

And Trick Pony's willingness to give something extra doesn't end onstage. "We'll sit and sign autographs until the last fan leaves if it's physically possible to do that without being late for the next gig," declares Heidi. "That's the biggest honor to have people wait up to three hours to meet us."

Maybe Trick Pony treats its fans so well because Ira, Keith and Heidi are fans. And all of them count getting to know other artists among their greatest thrills.

"Two years ago, we were playing clubs," explains Ira. "Now, I'm meeting the guys I listen to - hanging out with Mark Chesnutt, Alan Jackson and Henry Paul from BlackHawk. Two years ago they arrested me climbing the wall trying to get backstage," he jokes. "Now, they're talking to me!"

Heidi agrees it means a lot to meet the people who inspire her. "We did a show with Asleep At The Wheel," she explains. "And I just sat there watching. I'm not an overly emotional person, but I've been drawn to tears more lately than ever in my life because of how cool it is to be sitting on the side of the stage watching my heroes. And that they know who we are and dig what we're doing."

One of Keith's biggest thrills since "Pour Me" is seeing the group's very large faces staring down from a prominent Nashville billboard.

"Seeing us on that big sign just off Music Row is like a dream," he notes. "Of course, we've played the Opry and that was a huge thrill. And working with Waylon and Johnny Cash was a huge thrill.

"But Faith Hill, one of the biggest stars in the music industry, had that billboard just before us," smiles Keith. "So being up there right after her is special for us."

Of course, Keith, Heidi and Ira know why they're on that billboard. It's all about the music.

"Before we record," explains Keith, "we're working new songs into the show, so when it's time to cut, they're road-tested. We know the crowd likes 'em, we know we like 'em and we'll go in the studio and, hopefully ..."

"Catch magic," finishes Heidi.

"With us," continues Keith, "music is not a manufactured thing. You don't go record the album and then try to emulate that. You have a sound, and you try to capture that sound in the studio. That's what we try to do."

The group has at least one fan who thinks they've succeeded.

"I got a call from Johnny Cash's office," recalls Ira. "His publicist said, 'Ira, we need some Trick Pony CDs over here.' I said, 'I sent some over there.' And she said, 'You don't understand. Johnny took 'em

all - one for his house, one for his car and one for his wife's car.'

"That's a big compliment," declares Ira with a grin. "We signed them for people in his office, but he took them all ... and confiscated them."

Ira's grin broadens to a big smile as the coolness of the situation sinks in. "John's got 'em all."

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