Article contributed by Andrew W. Griffin of The Norman Transcript.
For over well-over two decades, award-winning country music group Diamond Rio has been attracting listeners to their music and audiences to their concerts with catchy country songs like “Meet In The Middle,” Beautiful Mess” and “One More Day.”
And on Friday, April 30, Diamond Rio performed at Riverwind Casino, here in Norman, bringing those hits and much more to their show.
Earlier this week, pop spoke with Dana Williams, the bass player and backing vocalist for Diamond Rio. He is an original member of the six-man band. Williams, speaking from his Tennessee home, said that he and the band were still very excited after having been awarded “Country Album of the Year” for their new album “The Reason,” at the Christian Music industry “Dove Awards” event in Nashville last week.
Williams said Diamond Rio had been up for three awards leading up to the ceremony and winning the one for best country album in Christian music was a real blessing for the band. “This was our very first Dove,” Williams said. “We were truly shocked at that one. Just thrilled to death. It’s a total thrill to be involved in Christian music. To win a country record for Dove … it absolutely blew us away.” “To have been in this for as long as we have, it’s hard to have a ‘first’ anymore,” Williams added.
The transition into the Christian market seems to suit Diamond Rio. It was just four years ago that they released a very patriotic and Christian-themed song called “In God We Still Trust.” Williams said the song, featured on their “Grestest Hits, Vol. 2” album is occasionally played live, although it “depends on how much time we’ve got.” He also said it is a song that is powerful and means a lot to a lot of people.
Williams said that recording “The Reason,” an overtly Christian country album, made sense, particularly after Word Records approached them about doing the record, particularly after their relationship with Arista Nashville ended a few years ago. “Man, what a great opportunity,” Williams said of the Word deal. “At this juncture, with a Dove under our belt, many we’ll do another (Christian album).”
When Williams isn’t on the road or in the studio, he spends 2 to 3 p.m. each Thursday playing the role of disc jockey at Nashville’s “Country Legend” 650 AM WSM. He said playing and talking about music on the radio is “a real passion” for him. “That has been so much fun for me, man,” Williams said. “I started a podcast at donwilliamshow.com. After I started doing that, I talked to WSM and they put on the second Thursday of every month. I pick out the music and if I’ve got a story on the different music I’ll share that. While I will take requests, it’s really me playing my favorite songs and talking about their history.”
“We’ve got a lot of different projects we want to do,” Williams said. “We’ve talked about doing bluegrass, maybe an old retro-country record. Fortunately, we have the ability to do that these days. Hopefully we do another Christian record.”
As for the new book, Williams said “it starts from the beginning” with the history of “each guy and tells our story up to date.” “There’s a lot of ups and downs, pains and happiness all through it. It pulls the veil off. Lots of pictures and lots of hair,” joked Williams.
Reaching more folks, as Williams noted, has been one of the positive results of the release of “The Reason.”
“I don’t know if we’re seeing a different crowd,” Williams said. “It has granted us the ability to play different places. It’s allowed us to play in some cool churches — the Crystal Cathedral in California and on ‘The 700 Club.’ But we play churches, we play casinos… we’re able to take (the music) everywhere.”
Williams said Diamond Rio has played Norman before but couldn’t remember where. He did say that they have added more to their increasingly intimate performances with more bluegrass influences being introduced. “We’re doing some interesting stuff,” he said. “Our bluegrass style includes (covers) of Eric Clapton to Kansas. We also went back and have plucked out a couple of our most-requested album cuts. We do as much Diamond Rio as we can, including some from our new record.”
Over all, Williams said he is pleased with where Diamond Rio is today. “It’s really, really a lot of fun,” he said. “Just a lot of joy.”
Much thanks to Andrew for sharing this interview with me, and allowing me to pass it on to all of you. Have a great Sunday everyone!