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Roadhouse rocks with Tippin, Chesnutt, Diffie, but not for long

Jackson Rancheria Casino, Jackson, Cal., October 7, 2007

Reviewed by Michael Sudhalter

They're not country classics yet, but give it another decade.

Mark Chesnutt, Joe Diffie and Aaron Tippin turned back the clock 15 years on Sunday night in the California Gold Country. All three were consistent hitmakers in the early and mid 1990's, and they shined on Sunday, but none of their sets were long enough.

The show, billed as The Rockin' Roadhouse Tour, lasted about an 1 hour 45 minutes, with 20 minute intermissions between acts. Chesnutt headlined the show and performed for about 45 minutes - 15 minutes more than Diffie or Tippin.

The Texas traditionalist stuck to his hits. He engaged in little interaction with the crowd, instead relying on his honky-tonk style to do to the talking.

Chesnutt opened with "What A Way To Live" and delved right into the tongue-in-cheek "Bubba Shot The Jukebox." Chesnutt's New South Band gave a surprise when they played some extended rock guitar before "Goin' Through The Big D." After Chesnutt performed songs from his 1990 debut album, "Too Cold At Home" and "Brother Jukebox," it was clear that few in his generation could match his traditional credentials.

Diffie opened with an audio of a shuttle launch before singing "Third Rock From The Sun." Personality-wise, he was the antithesis to Chesnutt, telling corny jokes at the expense of his band members.

Diffie stuck to his older hits like "So Help Me Girl," "Pickup Man" and "Ships That Don't Come In." He threw the audience for a curve when he performed "My Give A Damn's Busted," a hit he wrote for Jo Dee Messina. Diffie put his own interesting spin on the version, and it was much different hearing a male sing it.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was Diffie's hilarious impersonation of Willie Nelson during the opening part of "Prop Me Up Beside The Jukebox (If I Die)," which received the biggest applause of the set.

Tippin opened the show with enough energy to pack into all three sets. He spent most of it with a cordless microphone and acted out the lyrics as he sang the tunes. When he performed "Ain't Nothing Wrong With The Radio," he impersonated characters who interact with the narrator.

Tippin, known for his pro-American songs, took out an American Flag guitar and played "He Believed" and "Where The Stars and Stripes and Eagle Fly." Those songs received the largest response from the audience, but his signature song, "You've Got To Stand For Something" was the highlight of the show.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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