The Roots and Boots show with Aaron Tippin, Sammy Kershaw and Joe Diffie was full of hit songs, stories and laughter.
Back in the day (Tippin is marking year 25 in his career, Diffie’s about the same and Kershaw said he’s been performing country music about 40 years, since he was 12 years old), these three topped the country charts and as Tippin and Diffie liked to point out, some more than a certain other performer on stage.
Kershaw readily admitted that while he did have a lot of hit songs, only one hit the No. 1 slot. He lightheartedly blamed that “d*** Tracy Lawrence,” and his two stage mates for that for being such good artists — stylists and vocalists — for hogging the No. slot back in the day, when mullets and shoulder pads were cool.
The cool thing about this show is that you might expect there to be a lot of 50-somethings and older in the crowd, and there were plenty of us and them, but there were a lot of 20-somethings around me and they knew the words to all three singers songs. That speaks to the staying power of these three artists.
Tippin, Kershaw and Diffie took the stage together, each with an acoustic guitar and each backed by another guitarist, and Tippin and Kershaw also had keyboardists.
Kershaw got the show started by saying how he believes that Diffie is the greatest country singer in Nashville right now. He also told a story of Diffie and the police officer. Driving about 90 miles an hour one night, the two were talking on the phone when a policeman pulls Diffie over for speeding. Kershaw told him to roll the window down and tell the officer that he was talking to Sammy Kershaw and he’ll let you go.
So that’s what Diffie did. The police officer said, yea, he was a fan of Sammy’s and Diffie let him talk to Kershaw on his phone. When he asked to see his license, the officer recognized his name and said he liked his music, too, and off Diffie went without a ticket.
Aaron Tippin kicked off the music with his hit “You’ve Got To Stand for Something.” Kershaw’s first song was what he called his favorite song he’s recorded in his career, “Haunted Heart.”
A little more banter between the three ending with Kershaw saying he’s only had one No. 1 song and Joe Diffie taking the spotlight with his first No. 1 “Third Rock From the Sun.”
Tippin sang “Blue Angel,” which Diffie said was his favorite Aaron Tippin song.
“I had another song in that slot until Joe wore me out and I put it in,” Tippin said. “I guess now he thinks it’s his birthday everyday!”
Kershaw played his new single, “Grillin’ and Chillin’,” from his album “I Won’t Back Down.” It’s a fun, summer song and he’s asking fans to submit their grillin’ and chillin’ video clips which could be used in the video for the song. Which led to a funny conversation on dropping “g’s.”
Diffie’s next song, “Pickup Man,” was at No. 1 for four weeks so he likes to think of it as four No. 1 songs, one for each week it was on the charts. “He’s only on his second song and already he says he’s got five No. 1’s!” Kershaw said.
Tippin’s set included a new song from his latest album “Aaron Tippin 25,” which includes 10 hits and 10 new songs. He sang “God’s Not Through With Me Yet,” a song about why people wonder why they survived a tragedy, one he personally understands, too.
Kershaw noted one of his hits was banned by radio in one city when it was released — no radio station in Las Vegas would play “Third Rate Romance,” he said.
“Thank you all very much for that No. 3 record,” he said after singin it.
Diffie sang a song he recorded, “Behind Closed Doors,” for the album “Tribute to Tradition” featuring various artists recording country standards.
“Sammy, the only way I can compete with that is to do a No. 1 record,” Tippin said before breaking into his classic “Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong With the Radio.”
Kershaw told a life story about his first “real” job working for Walmart. He’d just signed with label and was still living in Louisiana. He got a demo tape of a song his label wanted him to record. He hated the song the first time he heard it — “Cadillac Style.” He recorded it and it went to No. 2 (“d*** that Tracy Lawrence. He always locked me out of that No. 1 slot.”).
Kershaw, who has been married a few times, said he started singing in bars and clubs when he was 12; by 14 he was an alcoholic and by 15 he was a drug addict. One morning he woke up and stopped both. That was 30 years ago, he said.
The three gave a shout out to the veterans and active military in the audience before Diffie sang “Ships That Don’t Come In,” a song veterans have told them they relate to; followed by Tippin’s patriotic and crowd-pleasing “Stars and Stripes and Where the Eagles Fly.” All three singers have performed for troops overseas.
“I guess now I gotta do that No. 1 song,” Kershaw said, as cheers from the audience accompanied the opening notes of “She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful.”
The hits continued with “Kiss This,” “Queen of My Double Wide Trailer,” “Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox If I Die” and a crowd favorite, Diffie’s No. 1 hit from 1996, “John Deere Green.”
Their one-song encore was “All in the Same Boat,” from their album of the same name. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VfmBQjrBZUc)
Good country. Good fun!