Aaron Tippin, Sammy Kershaw, and Joe Diffie
Aaron Tippin is a force of nature, a man whose passion for music fuels an array of other vigorous enthusiasms. Apart from writing and recording songs and wowing crowds with his live appearances, Tippin is also a pilot, farmer, winemaker, outdoorsman, competitive bodybuilder and devoted family man. He even runs his own record label. It’s no surprise then that so many in the music industry regard this tireless South Carolinian as the “Hillbilly Hercules.”
Sammy Kershaw’s plan for country music is re-claiming its roots and recapturing the spirit that made it great: The recording studio. “Man, for someone like me who had George Jones music imprinted in my DNA before birth, the last few years have been rough as a fan of country music.” noted Kershaw candidly in a recent national interview. “Country music is not a formula it’s a music with its own soul and I’m all about saving that soul!” Kershaw’s current album “Honky Tonk Boots” promises to be a much-anticipated first step in that plan of salvation.
The subsequent arc of Diffie’s career can be followed in any number of sources, from internet articles and fan sites to research staples like the Country Music Foundation’s Encyclopedia Of Country Music, so there’s no need to retrace it here. But even as he was racking up Top 10 hits as quickly as he could turn them out, Joe kept up his bluegrass connections, and not always in the most obvious ways. He co-hosted and performed on the International Bluegrass Music Association’s annual awards show in 1993 and 1999 (the latter time in a notable appearance with the Lonesome River Band and the Del McCoury Band’s fiddler, Jason Carter), and he popped up on the legendary Ralph Stanley’s award-winning, all-star production, Clinch Mountain Country, with a gripping rendition of “Another Night,” but he also turned over a strong co-write of his, “I Got A Feeling,” to bluegrass singer David Parmley years before he got around to recording it himself. And he kept listening, not just to the classics and contemporary releases he’d grown up on in the 70s and 80s, but the new stuff, too. Indeed, he says, “most of what I listen to is bluegrass.”