Throwing out guitar pics by the dozen, Joe Diffie's style of music and performance kind of reminded one of everyone's favorite “fun and crazy Uncle Joe” who would visit every once in while for beer and a Saturday afternoon of Hog football and barbecue.
Throwing out guitar pics by the dozen, Joe Diffie’s style of music and performance kind of reminded one of everyone’s favorite “fun and crazy Uncle Joe” who would visit every once in while for beer and a Saturday afternoon of Hog football and barbecue.
Such was the easy-going presence of Diffie as he took the stage at Hempstead Hall for Saturday night’s Watermelon Festival finale. In an oversized shirt, black t-shirt, and blue jeans, Diffie more resembled just about anyone’s next door neighbor, looking like he would be perfectly at home in either Nevada or Hempstead counties.
Diffie had the Hempstead Hall crowd, estimated at 1,100, calling out the Razorback Hogs doing a big round of “Pig Swoowee,” while cracking jokes about an ex-wife he lovingly called “Plantiff…”
Diffie was every bit the humble everyman even as he powered through his classic hits of the 1990s. Coming out after a slight delay in stage lighting, Diffie called out “Yall ready to have some more fun?” to yells and applause as he jumped immediately into raucous party versions of “Third Rock From The Sun” and “Next Thing Smoking.”
Only slowing down for ballads like “So Help Me Girl,” Diffie would go right back to high tempo with hits like his best known, “Pickup Man,” which the crowd sang along with much of time.
And just like Clint Black from a week earlier, Diffie had his own salute to vintage county, doing a close rendition of Charlie Rich’s “Behind Closed Doors” as well as his own Willie Nelson impression, moving straight into “Prop Me Up Beside The Jukebox.”
Diffie also performed a solo version of “Girl Ridin' Shotgun,” his unexpected 2013 YouTube rap hit with D-Thrash, which Diffie said had close to 12 million views as well as “A Night To Remember” among others in his catalog.
Prior to Diffie’s show, which started well after 8:30 p.m. Saturday, a full line-up of performances included the finalists of the 2017 Watermelon Idol Contest, Prescott’s Rachel Hale, a solo by the 2017 Watermelon winner, and Jonesboro guitarist Dillan Cate.
Brady Rhodes of Caney emerged as the winner of five finalists in the 2017 Watermelon Idol competition that also included Allison Garner of Amity, Aubri Johnson of Brock TX, Kendall Laughard of Prescott, and DeShala Golden from Kirby.
Laughard gave an emotional performance which earned her a second-place award, but it was Rhodes that was named as the 2017 Watermelon Idol winner and grabbed a solo spot right before Diffie took the stage.
Cate put on a solo acoustic show as the warm-up act for Diffie, very similar to the one that Spring Hill native Jason Helms did for Clint Black the week before.
Although Cate played mostly Country music, he did present acoustic renditions of Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” songs by the Eagles and Matchbox 20, and the 1974 AM radio classic “Please Come to Boston,” originally done by Dave Loggins, but covered in recent years by country artists like Kenny Chesney and David Allan Coe.
Cate even closely mimicked Helms in his onstage appearance with a simple Matchbox 20 t-shirt, Arkansas Razorbacks ballcap, blue jeans and tennis shoes.