Three of country music’s most distinct voices take the stage at Casino New Brunswick this Friday when the Roots and Boots Tour comes to Moncton.
The show features Sammy Kershaw, Aaron Tippin and Joe Diffie, all well-established country artists in their own right. The show is unique in the sense that all three performers will be on stage at the same time, each taking the spotlight to perform his respective hits while also treating the audience to songs to be featured on an upcoming collaborative record.
Sammy Kershaw says the Roots and Boots Tour is not as much about strength in numbers as it is about providing country music fans the opportunity to enjoy an evening of timeless music.
“We are playing to packed houses, night after night, with this tour,” he says. “I feel a big reason why this is happening is because people miss traditional country music. I do, too. You have to remember that I’m a country music fan before country music artist and I can’t tell you how many people are letting us know how badly they miss hearing this kind of music on the radio. All we can hope is that the powers-that-be are paying attention to what these people are saying.
“I’ve been doing this for 43 years now and can honestly say that country music is one of the only genres that hates itself. A lot of people in country music these days want to be everything but a country artist. You can’t knock success but things aren’t the same as they were. These days, artists are bragging about selling a million singles while it seems like just a few short years ago, artists like myself, Tracy Lawrence and John Michael Montgomery were selling millions of records. Those sales still mean a lot to the fans but it doesn’t hold any clout in the business anymore. Our success has kind of been thrown aside.”
Sammy’s tour mate Joe Diffie agrees that he, Sammy and Aaron aren’t in Kansas anymore. While sales and demand for their music might have dwindled over the last 10 years or more, Diffie says they are grateful for the opportunity to continue performing.
“It is the way that the business goes,” Joe says. “I knew when I first started that success wouldn’t last forever. If you have illusions about that, you are only fooling yourself at the end of the day. Sammy, Aaron and I have all been very lucky to find the success we have in our respective careers. We are still out there, too. Perhaps the best thing about it is that we have each had so many songs embraced by people. If the fans were no longer coming out to see us play, that would be a different story altogether but we have sold out virtually every show that we have performed.
“As an artist, you don’t really get advance notice that radio isn’t going to be playing your songs anymore. It just stops and so you have to have enough smarts about you. Luckily, the three of us do. Good music truly stands the test of time.”
The Roots and Boots tour is not the first time Sammy, Aaron and Joe have toured together. While the three of them rose through the ranks of country music at roughly the same time, they had each maintained their respective careers and tour schedules. Given how well they got along while on tour, it was only a natural evolution of their friendships that they would pursue making a record.
“On our upcoming record, we each performed three songs and then did three songs together,” Sammy says. “The great thing about the record is that each of us were able to keep our musical identities, but when you put those identities and personalities together on those three songs that we did collaboratively, it still works. Joe, Aaron and I have a friendship and camaraderie that no one else has been really able to form yet. We would like to bring country music back to what it was like in the ’70s when everyone hung out together and looked out for each other.”
Joe says fans are the ultimate winners as a result of the three artists touring and recording together. There is a natural chemistry between the trio on stage. Rather than sticking to a script or standardizing their show night after night, the guys let the songs and banter flow naturally.
“There is nothing scripted in these shows at all. They are very informal,” Sammy says. “The show is three friends who happen to play music and who are involved in each other’s lives.”
“These shows are a lot of fun, not only for the value of getting two or three artists for the price of one but for the way that the shows are run,” Joe says. “We sit on stage, sing and swap stories all night. People enjoy seeing that side of us. Even if I wasn’t involved, it is the type of show that I would pay to see.”
Article published in the April 18, 2013 edition of the Times & Transcript