It was a humid sunset as the crowds gathered for the Feel Downtown LIVE concert series in Ocala, FL; four-time CMA Group of the Year recipient, Diamond Rio, was hitting the stage.
After an audience-interactive opener, the Shane Wooten Band, the famous ensemble opened the show with their 1998 hit “Unbelievable”, keeping the momentum going with “Norma Jean Riley” before slowing down the tempo with “One More Day” and “Beautiful Mess”.
Audience members noticed a difference in the band; Diane Sheets, internationally known vocal coach to Rio and other acts, was singing back-up vocals in place of Jimmy Olander, whom was absent so he could give his daughter away at her marriage. After commenting on how awkward it felt having a woman on the bus after touring for 26 years, Sheets commented that the bus smelt like a “locker room”, to the audience’s laughter.
Fans young and old danced the night away in the center of Ocala as Rio jammed into all of their earliest hits: reminiscing on being an opening act for Alabama, they recalled how astonishing it was that the headliner could never fit everything that had been released as a single into their set lists. Now being at that pinnacle of success, Marty Roe, lead vocals, proclaims, “having too many hits and not enough time is a good problem to have”.
The night air was cooling down as Rio introduced their two latest projects: autobiography “Beautiful Mess: The Story of Diamond Rio” and their new album ‘The Reason”. Both projects were written by the band on accounts from their own lives, and the night hair filled the gospel music from Rio’s recent musical release, followed by a trip back in time with their western-inspired pieces that were showcased on the television program “Austin City Limits”.
Closing the show with their chart-topping hit “Meet in the Middle”, the thirteen-time Grammy nominated Diamond Rio sounds just as good today as they did when they graced our radios and televisions 26 years ago. Information, including tour dates and access to the their new projects, can be found HERE.