Diamond Rio

February 24, 2000

Diamond RioBy ANDREW SCHOTZ / Staff Writer

These are the places in Diamond Rio drummer Brian Prout's life:

* Nashville, Tenn., his hometown. He's there most weekends, unless his country music band is on tour.

* Washington, D.C., where he flies each Monday to be with his fiance, Congresswoman Mary Bono.

* Palm Springs, Calif., the area Bono represents. Prout tries to get there at least one weekend a month.

cont. from lifestyle

The arrangement is hectic, but rewarding.

"It works, and it's worth it," Prout said.

Diamond Rio, which is playing at The Maryland Theatre in Hagerstown Sunday, has been going places, too.


The title track on the most recent album, "Unbelievable," earned the group its eighth Grammy nomination. In 1998, Diamond Rio became the first band in 14 years to be inducted into the legendary Grand Ole Opry.

The 11-year-old band has been named Country Music Association Vocal Group of the Year four times, and all five of its studio albums have gone gold or platinum.

Times are about as good for Prout, 44, as they are for the band. He and Bono, 38, who was married to the late Sonny Bono, became engaged last summer, a year after meeting at a Republican fund-raiser in Washington, D.C.

Prout, the last bachelor in the band, proposed on a mountaintop in Utah.

There is no wedding date yet.

"I haven't been told when and where," Prout joked. "I did the hard part: asking."

He laughed when he was reminded that the song "Unbelievable" - which is about falling in love with a wonderful woman - mirrors his life.

Just a coincidence, he promised.

From October to January, Prout was sidelined after having surgery to correct cubital tunnel and carpal tunnel syndrome. Years of playing the drums had irritated the canals containing the nerves in his arms.

"It wasn't painful, but it wasn't pleasant," he said.

It will take four to six months before he is fully recovered, he said, but he will continue to play.

Was he antsy to get back to playing?

"Absolutely not," Prout said.

The time off was good for his body and his perspective, he said. He realized that the band was consuming more of his energy than it should.

Prout's musical roots go back to the mid-1970s in Troy, N.Y., where he grew up playing top-40 music.

"I listened to everything, but live music was active and rock was where it was at," he said.

When disco music crowded out rock, many upstate New York clubs changed their formats, and Prout had few opportunities to play.

In 1980, he went on a spring break trip to South Florida.

"I went down and never came back," he said. "I didn't have much else going on. I knew I'd have to leave sooner or later if I was going to be serious."

In the early-1980s, singer and guitarist Marty Roe, pianist and keyboard player Dan Truman and guitarist Jimmy Olander were part of a band called The Tennessee River Boys. In 1986, Prout became their drummer.

Singer and mandolin player Gene Johnson joined them in 1987, and singer and guitarist Dana Williams the following year. They became Diamond Rio in 1989.

Now, even television network news anchors sing their songs.

"Mary co-chaired an event with Sam Donaldson," Prout said. "I knew about it, but she didn't. When Sam introduced her, they played 'Unbelievable,' and Sam tried to sing along."

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