The H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center was filled with all sorts of whistles, cheers and yee-haws as Mark Chesnutt, Neal McCoy and Joe Diffie brought their “Country Unplugged” concert to an eager audience Sunday night.
All three were prominent country artists in the ’90s who joined together to play a concert for the crowd. The trio was backed up by several guitar players, a keyboardist and two percussionists. One of the percussionists switched to bass for certain numbers.
Like many recent musical performances in Luhrs, this show was not only a display of talent in song, it was also a comedy act. The concert was light-hearted and the singers constantly jived with each other. Their quips were not confined to between the songs — oftentimes, they broke form to get laughs from the audience.
When some late-comers began to take their seats, McCoy called on the house to light up the audience so everyone could see him. Small audience interactions like this littered the concert, which helped keep the show loose and playful.
At one point, Diffie said he wrote his song “Third Rock From The Sun” before the television show came out. After some jokes about artists not receiving royalties, Chesnutt said, “We’re not artists, we’re singers. I can’t paint a picture.”
McCoy identified himself as a patriot and dedicated a portion of the concert to expressing it. He said he says the pledge of allegiance every day using Facebook Live. As of Feb. 24, he has done it for 1,144 days, according to his Facebook fan page.
McCoy also sang a song called “Take a Knee My Ass.”
The song is a commentary on Colin Kaepernick’s National Football League protest. McCoy said it had nothing to do with racism — he said it is not the laws or people in office that make a country great, but the people.
After the song, many members of the audience rose to their feet, clapped and cheered. Diffie then paid tribute to the armed forces by asking the house to raise the lights and having the servicemen in the audience stand.
McCoy then talked about his childhood as a Christian before the group sang “How Great Thou Art,” originally by Carl Boberg.
After a few more songs, the group finished the concert with Diffie’s “John Deere Green.” As the show ended, McCoy threw the rest of his cup of water into the audience.