Three country music shows wrap up the grandstand entertainment at The Great Frederick Fair Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. That’s good news for country music fans.
Here’s the bonus: Two of the shows feature three artists and you know you can’t ever have too many country singers on one stage.
Thursday is the Roots & Boots Tour with Aaron Tippin, Joe Diffie and Sammy Kershaw; Friday is Chase Bryant, Kellie Pickler and Easton Corbin; and Saturday is “Your Man” Josh Turner. No complaints there!
Three Chords and the Truth interviewed Joe Diffie, Chase Bryant, Easton Corbin and Josh Turner. You can read the Easton interview in a previous post. You can read more of the Joe, Chase and Josh interviews in the Thursday, Sept. 25, edition of 72 Hours, the entertainment guide of The Frederick News-Post.
JOE, JOE, JOE DIFFIE!
Thanks to Jason Aldean’s “1994,” I can’t say Joe Diffie’s name without inserting the “Joe, Joe, Joe Diffie” chorus of that song. He’s a fan of Diffie’s and Joe admits the song did give his career a little boost.
Joe’s hits include “Pickup Man,” “John Deere Green,” “Third Rock From the Sun” and “Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox (When I Die).”
He’s had 12 No. 1 country hits and more than 20 Top 10 singles. He’s also penned songs for other artists, including Tim McGraw, Conway Twitty and Jo Dee Messina.
The Grand Ole Opry member is the father of five and grandfather of two. He’s been touring with the Roots & Boots tour off and on for about three years, he said. The three are all longtime friends, started their careers about the same time and have blue collar backgrounds. “We have a lot in common,” he said.
Aaron is a workout fanatic, Joe said. “He always finds a gym and works out every day. Sammy tinkers around with his bus, washing it and shining the wheels. I used to play golf, that was before my back hurt. Mostly I just hang out.
“I went out the other day with a friend in West Virginia to shoot sporting clays,” he said. “That was the first time I had done that. We shot 100 rounds and, man!, my shoulder, elbow and jaw, the next day I could hardly move.”
When he’s not making, writing or singing music, he likes to have his family over, “grill out and hang out with my kids,” Joe said. His youngest daughter is 11. All of his kids are musically inclined, he said, and his oldest son toured with him for a few years. His oldest daughter sings gospel music and his youngest wants to learn to play the trumpet (“the trumpet is loud!”).
In 2010, Joe wrote a cookbook, a compilation of recipes passed down through the Diffie family, including his mother Flora’s garlic chicken fried steak.
“I’m amassing recipes for a second book,” he said in a recent phone interview. I always tweak recipes and add my own touch. You know putting together a cookbook is a major job!
“I like to do smoked meat. I’m not much of a baker,” he said. On the road he will occasionally break out the grill. “I have a couple of grills under the bus. We’ll go to Walmart for steak and chicken and have a party.”
He’s also amassing and writing songs. “I write mostly for myself because I don’t write that frequently, but if someone else hears it and wants to record one of my songs, that’s OK, too,” he said.
Joe said he plays guitar, but would not call himself a guitarist. “That’s why I have great musicians!” he said.
In the early days of his career, Joe sported a mullet and as mullets go it worked for him.
“Do I miss the mullet? It’s like Hercules, you cut that off and I lose all my strength,” he laughed. “My Momma cried when I cut it off. I asked her why she was crying. She said, ‘you cut off your beautiful hair!'”
Joe does about 70 to 80 shows a year, about 65 of them will be his and the others Roots & Boots.
But don’t expect to hear “Leroy the Redneck Reindeer” in July. “A guy asked me to sing that two weeks ago,” Joe said.
“Dude,” he replied to the request, “It’s 100 degrees! I have to relearn that song every year.”
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Josh Turner was combining work with a family visit when we talked by phone recently.
He’s working on album No. 6, a project he said that’s been in the works for long time and longer than he hoped it would be, but that’s the music business.
“I worked long and hard on it and I’ve written 70 songs in prep for the record,” Josh said in that voice that is unmistakably Josh Turner. Through the process he said he’s learned a lot about the business, music and “myself. It’s been a growing point for me,” he said. “Lay Low” is the first single from the album.
Josh moved from South Carolina to Nashville around 2001. “I don’t feel the artists (today) have the control they did 14 years ago,” he said. And the style of country music has changed and is continually changing these days, he said.
“I’m pretty comfortable about being me but I feel my music tastes are diverse enough and my music is current and relevant on radio,” he said. “But I think the days of breaking into music in your 30s and 40s are over.”
Josh, who is a devout Christian, says the new album may or may not include a gospel or faith-based song. “That’s kind of become a novelty. I don’t want to do it for that reason. I don’t want it to be contrived or forced. I’ve written a couple of gospel songs but I didn’t feel they fit in with the album,” he said.
The father of four boys, ranging in age from 1 to 8, Josh likes to take the boys hunting, fishing and to baseball and basketball games and play wiffle ball. His 8-year-old is learning the mandolin, his 6-year-old the fiddle, the 3-year-old the ukelele and “my fourth he may be the dancer,” he said.
Josh and his wife, Jennifer, founded the Josh Turner Scholarship Fund to support students at his rural high school alma mater who are interested in pursing a career in music. The foundation expanded last year to include the state of South Carolina and his hope is to grow the fund to support students nationally, he said. “It was a slow start but we got it rolling.
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CHASE BRYANT HAS MUSIC IN HIS DNA
Chase Bryant was on the road to a show in Auburn, Washington, when we caught up with him by phone. He’s been touring on Tim McGraw’s Shotgun Rider Tour this summer.
“It’s been a great learning curve and great to know one of my heroes is a great guy and it’s been great to connect with his fan base,” Bryant said.
He’s working on an album that will drop in 2016. But that hasn’t stopped him from bringing on the hits. His debut single “Take It On Back” hit the Top 10 and his new single is “Little Bit of You.”
Playing a Chase show, with a 75-minute set, is very different from his 25-minute set on the McGraw tour. “It’s a little different for me to go out every night … it’s very fast and with time restraints,” he said.
Chase got his first record deal at 16 (he’s now 22). “It’s been everything I knew it would be,” he said of his music career. “I put a lot into it. You have to fight for this career.”
He’s received numerous accolades, including being named by Rolling Stone one of the “10 New Country Artists You Need to Know Now.”
“I just keep working and am very thankful and happy to have these things,” said Chase, who in addition to guitar plays drums, the organ, bass and keyboards. He has one brother who is also “a great musician. He plays in his church back home.”
Can we expect a brothers collaboration some time?
“Maybe down the road,” said Chase. Their grandfather played piano for Roy Orbison and Waylon Jennings.
It’s hard to “shut out the music,” Chase said, but when he does he likes to fish (salt or fresh water) and deer hunt. “I’m taking time in October to do that,” he said. “I have a couple of places I like to go and go back home (to Texas) and see family when I’m there.”