Three veteran country artists traded harmonies as well as comical barbs Thursday evening at The Great Frederick Fair.
Aaron Tippin, Sammy Kershaw and Joe Diffie shared the grandstand stage in a show heavy on storytelling, laughs and their classic hits.
Diffie’s “Pickup Man” got the crowd singing along, as did Tippin’s “Ain’t Nothing Wrong With the Radio.”
The three singers have played together frequently as part of the Roots and Boots tour, all the while maintaining their separate careers. This is the fourth year they have done the tour, according to Tippin.
Playing together using acoustic instruments casts new light on the music, Diffie said in a phone interview, when they get them “broken down in the raw form.”
When singers perform together, Diffie said, the atmosphere is a little more relaxed than that of a solo performance. There is more storytelling, more joking around.
“You kind of get to see our personalities a little more,” Diffie said before the show.
Tippin teased Diffie in the performance about getting out of a speeding ticket because he told the officer, a fan of Kershaw’s, that he knew the singer.
Kershaw later poked fun at the others, saying, “These two guys have had a lot of number one records, and I’ve only ever had one. They’re going to remind you of that point all night.”
When the engine noise from a monster truck disrupted the show and Kershaw asked what was going on, Tippin replied, “Obviously, he’s wrecking your show.”
The stories also got a little more candid when Kershaw shared his struggle with addiction during his first attempt at a music career. He introduced “Cadillac Style,” recounting how he had cleaned up and was ready to try recording again when his producer sent him a version of that song that left Kershaw unimpressed.
The producer persuaded him to try cutting his own track to see how it sounded, and the song ended up launching his career.
The crowd appeared eager to hear the hits, but the singers also gave them something new. Tippin played his new single, “God’s Not Through With Me Yet.”
Karen Hayden, of Taneytown, said before the show she had seen each artist separately, but she was looking forward to seeing them together.
“I like all three of them, but Sammy Kershaw is my favorite,” she said.
Hayden said she has been coming to just about every country performance at The Great Frederick Fair for years.
Ed Himes, of Thurmont, said he favored classic country artists such as George Jones, but he had seen Tippin before and enjoyed it. Himes particularly liked Tippin’s patriotic songs, he said, because he used to be in the military.
For Ijamsville’s Donna Day-Ridgley, the older songs were the highlight.
“I loved it,” she said.