Diamonds & Spurs Saloon, Pontiac, Mich., Dec. 11, 1996
By Dan Kuchar
PONTIAC, MICH. - Is there more to Deana Carter than a monster hit single from an album that just went platinum?
A one-hit wonder or someone with staying power? Carter's show at Diamond & Spurs left question marks.
Dressed in an untucked red silk shirt, jeans, windswept blonde hair and a guitar that dwarfed her diminutive stature Carter took center stage and belted the opener with her charming down-home voice. The SRO crowd cheered with approval.
Once the crowd quieted down a little, Carter and company launched into "If This Is Love," a swaggering honky tonk number followed by "We Danced Anyway," announced as her next single.
Unlike most artists on their first national tour, Carter did not perform any covers of better-known songs opting to do only the songs from her hit debut album "Did I Shave My Legs For This?" The gamble paid off, and each song was warmly received by the enthusiastic crowd.
Carter brought a casual, feel-good tone to the evening that went over just fine. She and her band breezed through renditions of her songs that were pretty much the same as the record. While her band was tight instrumentally, their background harmony singing was pretty mediocre.
Then about 40 minutes into her show, she strapped the Big Guitar on again and played the opening chords that brought a roar of approval from the crowd. The band joined in on the intro as Carter launched into what would be the high point of the evening. The crowd chanted "He was workin' through college...."
Carter's voice could barely be heard over the singing of the crowd. By the time she got to the chorus, the audience was singing it by themselves. The crowd sang along with every word of "Strawberry Wine" all the way through including the bridge and all of the riffs. Once finished, the crowd cheered wildly. Carter, visibly moved by the experience, started the next song wiping tears from her eyes.
Explaining that most of her songs come from her personal experiences (most of which "didn't work out") Carter finished with the very traditional-sounding title track from her album.
Midway through, the band picked up the tempo and blistered through the rest of it in a smokin' double-time stomp. With very little coaxing, she returned to the stage for two encores.
After all was said and done, Carter and her entourage left the Detroit crowd underwhelmed. Their show was good, but nothing to write home about.
Would anybody remember the details a day or a week later? Not likely.
Deana Carter's subsequent efforts would have to be better to make her anything more than a one-hit wonder. If not, it is unlikely that Detroit will remember much about Deana Carter other than she's that girl who sang "Strawberry Wine."