On Sunday night, I watched The Rockin' Roadhouse Tour at Jackson Rancheria Casino in Jackson, Calif. It was a last minute decision to attend the show, about an hour away. And it was so great to hear some quality country music while I enjoyed the beautiful scenary en route to Amador County.
When I arrived, there wasn't a parking spot to be found. You would have thought George Strait and Alan Jackson were playing there, not less-heralded acts Mark Chesnutt, Joe Diffie and Aaron Tippin.
I finally found a spot and made it into the theater by Tippin's second song, "I Got It Honest." That was after I spotted a Jerry Stiller look alike sitting in my row.
The South Carolina native knows how to work a crowd, He moves around the stage with a cordless microphone and has been one of the most outspoken artists in terms of pro-American songs.
And Tippin backs up the rhetoric by playing lots of shows for the troops, both here and abroad.
He declared to the audience after singing "Where The Stars and Stripes and Eagle Fly" that "I've never been more proud to be an American than I am today". And you could tell he was sincere and that it wasn't just artist banter with the audience.
I wish I could say the same for Diffie. The guy used the same lines he did at concerts nine years ago. There was a joke about his band member riding a horse, only to find out that it was one of those electric horses outside Wal-Mart. It came across as rehearsed and unsincere.
But he did come through with good banter, when he talked about how the venue was in the middle of nowhere. "You have to want to get here, to get here," Diffie quipped.
Another good line was his introduction of "My Give A Damn's Busted", a song he wrote and recorded, but it became a hit for Jo Dee Messina. He said I wrote this song for another artist, but I look forward to going to the mailbox each day.
Chesnutt, in the tradition of Strait, let the music do the talking. But even the legendary Strait interacts more with the audience than Chesnutt did.
Some are pure singers, others great entertainers. Most are a combination of both. Jokes are OK, but you've got to take it easy. There's a reason why y'all are singers, not comedians.
That said, I do enjoy Branson-style cornball comedy. I just don't know how many other folks out there do.
But, I'll take a night of classic country over corny jokes any night. Give me both, a scenic view and my wife by my side and I'll be in paradise.