QA: Joe Diffie primed for Pork and Hops
Longtime country music performer Joe Diffie has two goals for his upcoming appearance in Grand Junction for Colorado Pork and Hops Challenge: put on a good show and eat good barbecue.
Diffie, who broke into the country music industry in the early 1990s, is a multi-platinum-selling and Grammy award winning artist with numerous country hits such as “Home,” “Bigger Than the Beatles” and “Third Rock from the Sun.”
In advance of his show at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, at the challenge at Lincoln Park, he talked about his new video “Girl Ridin’ Shotgun,” country music and his love of bluegrass music.
Melinda Mawdsley: I just saw your video “Girl Ridin’ Shotgun” on YouTube. How much fun did you have making that video?
Joe Diffie: It was a lot of fun. It’s always a little stressful, and it’s a long day. We had so many people there. All the people with their trucks, they were volunteers, and I got to have my wife and two daughters with me.
Mawdsley: Tell me about the process of making a video.
Diffie: It varies depending on how involved the video is. Sometimes, the camera crew will go out on another day and shoot B-roll of scenery and stuff. On that one day, we got there at 5 in the morning and they wanted you in makeup by about 6. Then you sit there and you wait and wait and wait. Then, they come in and say “We want to shoot the car scene.” Then you shoot that little scene and go back and wait for the next scene. Sometimes, it takes forever to set up cameras. The lighting has to be right, so it’s a detailed, long process. That’s just the shooting. Then they have to edit it.
Mawdsley: You broke into country music in 1990 right?
Diffie: 1990–91. A long time ago.
Mawdsley: What was country music like then?
Diffie: It was just kind of coming back to its country roots with Randy Travis and Ricky Skaggs. It had gotten into pop country — what I call it, which is fine — with Kenny Rogers, Crystal Gayle, so it was kinda starting to go back to its country roots. It was a good time. It was a lot easier to break into the industry than it is now. You didn’t have people downloading songs for free, so everybody was making a lot of money.
Mawdsley: What do you think about it now? It seems like it’s never been more popular.
Diffie: It is popular. I don’t know how to explain it. I have to be careful because I don’t want to sound mad or bitter because I’ve had a great run, but to me there were a lot more unique voices back then there are now and a wider variance of songs that dealt with issues instead of partying, and I love those songs, trust me, I have those songs. It’s not bad. It just depends on what you like. Now, it’s a little more sizzle and a little less substance.
Mawdsley: What keeps you motivated after nearly 25 years in the business?
Diffie: Obviously, it’s how I make my living, so that’s a major motiving factor. But as far as the music, I still get excited to record and write a new song. I have to admit the traveling part gets old, but every night on stage you have a different crowd and the performing is different, so it keeps you pretty excited. There’s nothing more gratifying than seeing people enjoy what you’re doing.
Mawdsley: Tell me about your 2010 bluegrass album “Homecoming.”
Diffie: There are definitely a lot of similarities between country and bluegrass, and a lot of country gets its roots from bluegrass and some of the best musicians are bluegrass musicians. Bluegrass people are very eclectic and protective of their genre. It’s a difficult field to break into. It was just difficult to get shows booked in that genre. It’s a little bit of a tough nut to crack even though I got rave reviews on that album.
Mawdsley: Why a bluegrass album?
Diffie: Before I ever moved to Nashville I sang in a bluegrass band for six years. It’s my favorite type of music, honestly.
Mawdsley: You are performing during a competitive barbecue competition. Do you enjoy eating barbecue?
Diffie: Heck, yeah. We’ve done several of those over the years. It’s always fun to sample all the good stuff. Here’s an odd thing though: We play all sorts of events and a lot of times they are strictly regulated so you can’t even try things. Hopefully, we’ll get to try something.