Joe Diffie to perform at Pickin' in the Panhandle

September 09, 2010|By TIFFANY ARNOLD
  • Joe Diffie will perform at Pickin' in the Panhandle on Saturday.
Submitted photo,

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. - Penning and singing more than a dozen No. 1 country hits? Check.

Receiving a humanitarian award? Check.

Having kids, and raising a family while living out a country music dream? Check.

So what's next thing for country musician Joe Diffie to check off his list?

"Oh, Gosh, let me get my crystal ball out here," said Diffie, laughing.

Actually, the next big thing for Joe Diffie - the man who carried country fans through the 1990s with country ditties like "Third Rock From the Sun" and "John Deere Green" - has set his sights on bluegrass.

"I'm just looking forward to getting out and doing some different stuff," said the 51-year-old in his heavy Oklahoma accent during a telephone interview. "I've been singing country for 20 years now. It's kind of using some new nerves I haven't had in a while."

Diffie is the Saturday headliner at this year's Pickin' in the Panhandle, the West Virginia State BBQ & Bluegrass Festival near Martinsburg, W.Va. The festival starts Friday, Sept. 10, and continues through Sunday, Sept. 12, with Ricky Skaggs closing out the show.


Diffie's performance precedes the release of his first-ever bluegrass album, "Homecoming," cut by indie roots music label Rounder Records. The album, due in stores Oct. 26, includes some standards, some originals and some twists - like a bluegrass version of "Hard to Handle," the Otis Redding song spurred to popularity in the 1990s by The Black Crowes.

"Homecoming" is Diffie's first bluegrass record, but it's not his first time performing bluegrass. Before he made it big in Nashville, Tenn., Diffie performed with a bluegrass outfit called Special Edition.

The country music industry has been good to Diffie ever since.

Diffie left his native Oklahoma for Nashville in 1986, squeezing in time between shifts at Gibson Guitar warehouse to make music.

By 1990, Diffie was signed with a major label and had released his debut album, "A Thousand Winding Roads." Now a member of the Grand Ole Opry, Diffie raked in a slew of platinum-selling records in the early 1990s and has continued to make music.

So why do a bluegrass album now?

"I just wanted to make a killing in bluegrass - no, I'm kidding," Diffie said. "I have just always loved it, and I had the idea in the back of my head, kind of a dormant idea. I was so busy doing all this other stuff, but finally the opportunity presented itself."

Diffie lives in Nashville and has five kids. The youngest is his 6-year-old daughter. For years, he hosted benefit concerts to benefit First Steps, a school in Nashville for special needs children.

His own son, Tyler Diffie, 21, has Down syndrome.

"I figure I've been really blessed in my life," Diffie said. "If I have a chance to help somebody else, it's a cool thing to do. It makes me feel good about myself. Like I say, if we raise some money for some other families, it's a great thing. It harbors a sense of community."

A few months ago, two of his older children Parker Diffie, 29, and Kara Diffie, 24, auditioned for "American Idol."

"Yeah, my son Parker was a little bit of a surprise because he works with me on the road," Diffie said. "I didn't know until the last minute. He actually missed one of the shows so that he could go audition."

His youngest son, Drew, 19, has been showing interest in music, too.

"He's a fanatic about playing guitar. It's all he wants to do," Diffie said. "He likes that stuff I'm not very familiar with, that heavy metal, that progressive stuff."

Diffie said he encourages his kids to follow in his footsteps and pursue a career in music - dues paying and all.

"It makes it sweeter if you do pay the dues, persevere and work through all of it," Diffie said. "You appreciate it even more if you do make it.

"I tell both my oldest children, who are good singers, Parker and Kara, you've got to really want it. Nobody's going to call you up and say 'Hey, you want to sing?' You've got to pursue it."

If you go ...

WHAT: Joe Diffie performs bluegrass

WHEN: 8:15 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11

WHERE: West Virginia State BBQ & Bluegrass Festival, Lazy A Campground, 317 Kathy's Lane, Hedgesville, W. Va.

COST: $25 for a one-day pass; $50 for a three-day pass. Free admission for children 12 and younger.

MORE: Find ticket information, directions and further information at .

Pickin' In the Panhandle music schedule


Main Stage

6:30 to 7:15 p.m. - The Back Creek Valley Boys

7:45 to 9 p.m. - Shenandoah


Main stage

10 to 10:45 a.m. - Clowes and Dunlap Band

11 to 11:45 a.m. - Lonesome Highway

Noon to 12:45 p.m. - Claire Lynch Band

1 to 1:45 p.m. - Josh Williams Band

2 to 2:45 p.m. - G2

3 to 3:45 p.m. - Newfound Road

4 to 4:45 p.m. - Claire Lynch Band

5 to 5:45 p.m. - Josh Williams Band

6:30 to 7:45 p.m. - Mountain Heart

8:15 to 9:30 p.m. - Joe Diffie

Pickin' Porch

10 to 10:45 a.m. - Rolling Coyotes

11 to 11:45 a.m. - Appalachian Flyer

Noon to 12:45 p.m. - Clowes and Dunlap Band

1 to 1:45 p.m. - G2

2 to 4 p.m. - Bluegrass band contests

4 to 4:45 p.m. - Lonesome Highway

5 to 5:30 p.m. - Barbecue and bluegrass band contest awards

5:30 to 6 p.m. - The Back Creek Valley Boys

6:15 to 7 p.m. - Appalachian Flyer

7 to 10 p.m. - Open acoustic jam


Main stage

10 to 11:45 a.m. - The Gibson Brothers

11 to 11:45 a.m. - Missy Raines

Noon to 12:45 p.m. - Jetts Creek

1 to 1:45 p.m. - The Gibson Brothers

2 to 2:45 p.m. - Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice

3 to 3:45 p.m. - The Grascals

4 to 5 p.m. - Ricky Skaggs

Pickin' porch

11 to 11:45 a.m. - Sleepy Creek

Noon to 12:45 p.m. - Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice

1 to1:45 p.m. - Missy Raines

2 to 2:45 p.m. - Jetts Creek

2:45 to 3 p.m. - Backyard barbecue contest awards

3 to 4 p.m. - Sleepy Creek

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