If you take a golfer from Ohio, a sky-diving Californian, a classical pianist from Utah, a rock drummer from New York, a cabinetmaker from Pennsylvania and the Osborne Brothers' nephew, and put them in a recording studio, you get Diamond Rio.
More importantly, you really DO get Diamond Rio. On its new album, "Love a Little Stronger," that really is (in the order listed above) Marty, Jimmy, Dan, Brian, Gene and Dana playing all the instruments, singing all the vocals.Maybe you don't read the stuff on album inserts, be we do. Sometimes, the only member heard on a group's album is the lead singer. More often, some members of groups play on some songs, but most of the music is from those Nashville Cats who make their living as session players. With solo artists, usually it's not their road band you hear on the albums either.
But the guys in Diamond Rio act as their own session musicians. After all, they do have the experience. Marty Roe, who is named after Marty Robbins, was a professional country singer by age 12. Dana Williams says, "I guess I was 14 before I knew there was anything but bluegrass." By age 12, Jimmy Olander was giving banjo lessons, although he says, "I wasn't driving a Porsche. A banjo and money don't go hand in hand."
Brian Prout lives in a two-drummer household. His wife, Nancy, is the drummer in Wild Rose. Gene Johnson used to handle mandolin chores for David Bromberg, J.D. Crowe and the late Keith Whitley. Dan Truman once toured the world with Brigham Young University's Young Ambassadors.
Marty, Jimmy and Dan got together as members of Opryland's Tennessee River Boys. After the other three joined, they became "Diamond Rio," because, Jimmy says, "We'd moved up and down the road so much, it felt appropriate to be named for a truck." In tack, they once toured the Harrisburg, Pa., Diamond Reo plant, and Marty got a set of mud flaps. "Now if they'll just come through with a free truck," Jimmy says. Why the misspelling? Well, that's the way they thought it was spelled.
Another name change led to one of their biggest hits. Seems there actually is a "Norma Jean Riley," except, co-writer Dan Truman says, "Her name is really Norma Jean Rabinowitz, and she lives in Southern California." Rabinowitz just didn't fit the melody, so they changed it. Dan, now happily married to Lisa, says "It made a good song, didn't it?"
After exploding on the scene and winning awards right and left with their first album, the Diamond didn't shine as brightly on their second. Of their new album, Marty says, "This time it's all the way - we're either all right or all wrong." Well, they sound all right to us.
QUIBBLES 'N' BITS
Inbound Plane Dept.: Suzy Boggus and her husband/song-writer Doug Crider are expecting some precious cargo early next year - a baby boy. Since Suzy's also a master metalsmith and jewelrymaker, we guess she'll make the silver spoon for Baby Boy Boggus/Crider. Suzy's also got a brand new album coming out that was produced by one of her major fans - Chet Atkins.
Pocket of a Clown Dept: Dwight Yoakam, who recently hit with "Pocket Of A Clown" (ooh-wah ooh-wah ooh-wah), is wearing a clown's pockets, along with the rest of the costume, down in Texas. Dwight's starring as a rodeo clown in the movie "Half A Dog's Life," set for early 1995 release. Gold star for courage to Dwight, too. He showed everyone what is (or rather, isn't) under that hat in his recent role as a rancher in the showtime movie "Roswell."
Rough Cuts Quote of the Week: "I didn't want to be known as a vice president of a record company. I was always ashamed of that." - Chet Atkins, after being given a Governors Award by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences as one of the two "architects of the Nashville Sound." (The other recipient was Owen Bradley.) While an executive at RCA Nashville, Chet produced or signed folks like Don Gibson, Elvis Presley, Eddy Arnold, Rosemary Clooney, Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton, Boots Randolph, Jerry Reed and Charley Pride.