• Last modified 2922 days ago (May 26, 2011)


Buttons on sale for Diamond Rio at Chingawassa Days in Marion

Staff writer

Chingawassa Days headlining band Diamond Rio broke onto the country music scene with a bang in 1991 when their debut single, “Meet in the Middle,” reached No. 1 on the U.S. country music charts.

It was the first of five No. 1 hits the band has recorded. The others are “How Your Love Makes Me Feel,” “One More Day,” “Beautiful Mess,” and “I Believe.”

Eleven other singles peaked in the top five, and 29 singles — including every single the band recorded in the 1990s — reached the top 40 on the U.S. country music charts.

The band plans to fill their concert in Marion’s Central Park with plenty of their biggest hits, guitar, mandolin, and fiddle player Gene Johnson said.

“We would have a hard time getting away without playing the hits,” Johnson said. “No matter how many you do, there’s always one that’s somebody’s favorite that you didn’t play.”

He said the band will start the concert with several hits in a row. The concert will also likely include medleys, songs the band hasn’t recorded, and a couple of songs from their latest album.

“The Reason” won the 2011 Grammy for Best Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Gospel Album.

After parting ways with longtime music label Arista Nashville in 2007, Diamond Rio recorded “A Diamond Rio Christmas: The Star Still Shines.” Johnson said one of the things on the band’s “bucket list” was to record a Christmas album.

The band shopped the album around to music labels, and Word Records released the album. Shortly afterward, Word Records asked the band to record an album of Christian music. Fortunately, that was another thing the band had always wanted to do.

Band members decided to write original songs for the album rather than recording already popular gospel songs. As is common in country music, band members drew heavily from their own experiences in writing the songs, Johnson said.

Diamond Rio is a four-time Country Music Association Vocal Group of the Year winner, with a record 15 nominations for the award. The band has included the same six members since 1989: Johnson, Jimmy Olander, Brian Prout, Marty Roe, Dan Truman, and Dana Williams. Johnson said he is proud of that longevity, because it was always their intention to form a long-lasting lineup.

“It’s kind of like family, like a bunch of brothers,” Johnson said. “We may argue and fight, but we all really love each other.”

Diamond Rio is scheduled to take the stage at 9:15 p.m. June 4 at Central Park in Marion.

For their next show after Chingawassa Days, Diamond Rio is scheduled to perform June 10 in Joplin, Mo. Johnson said Monday that he hadn’t spoken with the other band members about their concert in the city which was devastated by a tornado on Sunday.

“I’m not sure what venue we’re scheduled to play in Joplin,” he said. “I hope it’s still there.

Last modified May 26, 2011