Yep, Someone Told Diamond Rio They’d Never Make It — Taste of Country Nights, On Demand
In the early 1990s, Diamond Rio turned doubters into duplicators.
The group were told they were just too big to succeed in country music prior to signing with Arista Nashville. The Randy Owen-led trio Alabama, DR singer Marty Roe recalls, were labeled as "a fluke" during their meetings with executives.
"Once we broke with 'Meet In the Middle' it was amazing," he tells Taste of Country, referring to their debut single from 1991. It reached No. 1 on country airplay charts.
"Every label — you saw Little Texas, Lonestar — I mean here they come," he says. "Those folks — good friends of ours — got a chance maybe because we proved this (large country ensembles) actually can work."
They did OK, to say the least. "Norma Jean Riley," "Love a Little Stronger," "Imagine That," "You're Gone," "One More Day" and "Beautiful Mess" are signature hits from a 13-year run as country radio mainstays.
Over the next 20 years, Diamond Rio have continued to perform and record. In fact they joined Taste of Country Nights to talk about their next chapter.
Roe was joined by guitarist Jimmy Olander and bassist Dana Williams for this interview. Piano player Dan Truman is still with the group, but drummer Brian Prout and mandolin player Gene Johnson retired recently, leaving a space for new drummer Micah Schweinsberg and fiddle and mandolin player Carson McKee.
The musicianship really shines during the first release from this new ensemble:
"The Kick," Olander says, is a tribute to country and folk groups from the 1960s, but not too far from their normal, as they've often included songs like this on records. Leading with this as a way to introduce the new Diamond Rio was a matter of opportunity.
"All of a sudden I'm looking here at two Ferraris," he says, referring to the talented newcomers. He and McKee were the primary writers.
"Little by little, Dan was like 'Hey, let me play some piano on this.' Micah was like, 'Do you need a drum track?'"
Schweinsberg's background in photography and videography led to the band setting up a few cameras to film a performance, and before anyone knew it, they were uploading to YouTube.
Don't expect Diamond Rio to lead with an instrumental or even new music when they take the stage this summer: They'll focus on the hits and maintain a show longtime fans will recognize. As much as anything, this song proves that after three-and-a-half decades, the six-piece CMA, ACM and Grammy winners have fuel left in the tank. The tank just looks a little different.