Inside the downtown Jackson theatre on Friday evening, the near-capacity crowd is entertained with classic music hits by the 90’s Country Unplugged artists.   

The historic Michigan Theatre of Jackson is the place to be on Friday night as fans of 90’s traditional country congregate for an evening of great country hits.  

90’s Country Unplugged is a series of acoustic shows performed by the 90’s country’s superstars Mark Chesnutt, Neal McCoy and Joe Diffie.  The show is arranged with the three artists and a few members of their bands assembled on stage.   

As each artist alternates their turn on stage, they joke with each other of times during their careers as well as offering insight on the selected songs from each of their own libraries of hits music.

Mark starts the evening off with his 1996 #1 hit “It’s A Little Too Late.”  From the time the first notes are played until the end of the show, dancers from the crowd jump up out of their seats and begin to dance in the aisle ways.  

Before Neal takes his first turn at performing, he runs backstage to grab his cell phone so he can record his song on the social media site Facebook Live.  Neal hands the phone off to Joe Diffie to record while he drops down off stage to dance and sing his fun playful version of “Doo Wah Diddy Diddy” along with his ’94 #1 tune “Wink.” While performing down on the lower platform in front of the stage, Joe drops to his knees on stage to record Neal.  After the song, Joe jokes with the crowd that he would have joined Neal down below but his pants are too tight and he would have split them while trying to get back up on stage. 

Joe then takes his turn at his first song with his 1994 #1 single “Third Rock From The Sun. ”     

With the rotation turning back to Mark, he mentions that he has to blow his nose as he is battling a bit of a cold and to excuse him if he sniffles or sounds funny while singing.  At that point, Joe speaks up and comments that as an artist you can’t just call in sick and stay home.  The show must go on.  Joe adds that a cruise line is like a floating petry dish, and that it is so fun to go on a cruise to get Influenza.  He tells of his time doing a series of shows on a cruise and spent his spare time pooping and sneezing.  With everyone in the theatre laughing, Mark says not to think about it if sounds bad or he has snot running down his nose as we all do it too.  Neal chimes in and jokes that Mark and Joe are a trip and for them to not fall off the stage.  Still laughing, Mark then sings “Brother Jukebox” to the amused crowd. 

Getting his start in 1991, Neal competed in a singing contest to go on tour as an opener with Charlie Pride.  Five years ago, Neal recorded a tribute album to Charlie as a way to say thank you.  Tonight, he performs Charlie’s cover of “Is Anybody Going To San Antoine.”

Talking about the vehicles they drive, Neal tells of himself driving a Dodge Ram while Joe drives a Ford.  Mark speaks up and asks about a Jeep.  As everyone laughs, he adds that the Jeep is actually his wife’s and that he drives a Chevrolet.  Joe then questions the crowd, what about a “Pickup Man?”

Not feeling well tonight Mark just rushes right into “Bubba Shot The Jukebox” before Neal shares his first #1 hit “No Doubt About It.”  

Joe asks Mark and Neal if they ever had a hit song that they hated.  Joe describes how each of them started in Nashville as a demo singer and that he had a song he had sung one time as a demo.  Later on, his record label wanted him to record the song.  When he told them of him not liking the song, the label told him that he had better start liking it because he would be singing “If The Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets)” for the rest of his career after the 1991 debut single went to #1. 

Mark tells how he used to hate listening to demos because each song he would listen to was being sung by Joe Diffie.  Finally, he heard a song he wanted to record himself and the label told him not until he had a couple of platinum albums.  When he was finally able to record “I Just Wanted You To Know,” it went straight to number one. 

Neal once found “I Miss You Already,” and held onto it for 17 years before adding it to one of his albums.  Tonight, he dedicates it to his daughter who will be getting married to one of his band members behind him later this year. 

Joe honors all of our service men and women and tells of Mark’s son being in the Marines and deployed “somewhere” overseas.  He also comments that this is his favorite song and wishes that he was smart enough to have written it.  He hears many stories from his fans of “Ships That Don’t Come In” and how the song has comforted them during difficult times. 

When Mark released his first single “Too Cold At Home” in 1990, he was cocky and felt that he was going to conquer the world.  One day while driving his truck, he almost wrecked when Joe came on the radio with his debut single.  Thinking Joe was going to blow him out of the water and ruin his career, Mark went and bought Joe’s album and learned it inside and out.  Now 30 years later, they are best friends and each other’s biggest supporter.   

Neal, still talking on his phone with Facebook Live, thanks the crowd and tells of how much fun he is having on the road with Mark and Joe.  He finishes his portion of the evening with a rendition of “What A Wonderful World”  before wrapping it up with his crowd favorite dance hit, “The Shake. ”

To end the evening’s show, Joe obliges a fan’s request from earlier with the ever popular “John Deere Green.”  The crowd shows their appreciation by dancing and singing along with Joe, Mark and Neal.  As the song concludes, the three exit the stage with their bands and leave the crowd chanting for more. 

For all the music lovers of 90’s traditional country music,  the evening was a success and enjoyed by all.  The one drawback to a multi-artist show like this one is that you only get a handful of songs from each artist.  For tonight, there are five songs a piece to cover 3 careers that have lasted 30+ years and over 100 singles between the three.  Not hardly are you going to be able to cover it completely, but regardless, an enjoyable show loved by all. 

Special thanks goes out to the Dusty Guitar Promotions and the Michigan Theatre of Jackson for bringing another great show to the country music lovers of Jackson County and their surrounding areas.  

If you are interested in seeing this show or another by these artists or attend an event at the theatre, click on a link below for all the latest news and show dates.  

Mark Chesnutt
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Neal McCoy
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Joe Diffie
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Michigan Theatre of Jackson
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Event Date: 22-FEB-2019