Sometimes you go to a show and are transported into another world — one where the artist and his/her/their fans are the only ones in existence. That’s exactly what happened when Granger Smith along with his alter ego, Earl Dibbles, Jr., brought his show to Tucson, Arizona’s Denim & Diamonds last week.
Texas born opening act, Sam Shupak, prepped the crowd for the excitement that only Granger Smith and his band can bring to a venue, covering artists across country, even dabbling in other genres. Of particular note was Shupak’s dynamic dose of Blake Shelton’s “Boys ‘Round Here” and Snoop Dogg’s “Gin and Juice,” which he laced together in a live mashup form, wowing the audience and hyping it for the main event. Shupak is also a fan of the country classics, as he paid tribute to King George Strait, as well as some modern favorites, including Darius Rucker, Jason Aldean, and Jamey Johnson.
By the time Granger Smith and his powerfully entertaining band took the stage, the venue was packed and the dance floor was what best can be described as “congested.” Eager Smith fans stood shoulder to shoulder, surrounding the stage with phones aimed high in the air, waiting for the impressive performer to make his Tucson entrance.
Upon performing a slew of original masterpieces, Smith immediately paid close attention to the crowd, sharing pictures, selfies, and messages with those who passed their phones on to the stage to the incredibly impressive artist. Ensuring that he didn’t miss a single phone being held his way, Smith focused on his supporters while his band performed instrumental pieces of music to pass the time and keep the energy steadily high throughout the course of the show.
Though Smith has a catalog of his own material extensive enough for an entire setlist, he didn’t shy away from covering crowd and country music favorite, Garth Brooks. Lending his voice to two of Brooks’ most infamous songs — “The Thunder Rolls” and “Rodeo,” Smith performed a medley of the hits, causing a club-filled sing-along.
What made Granger Smith’s show exceptionally unique and special, aside from his ability to simultaneously interact with his fans while in the midst of his performances, was his impressive band of energetic members who put on a show of their own when their leader was on brief vocal hiatuses. Swinging from the rafters (literally), rocking their guitars, tossing drumsticks into the audience; whether Smith was on stage or not, his band kept the flow of the show in constant forward motion, proving that they are more than support for Smith, but partners in the spotlight.
A band highlight was a musical interlude that strayed far away from country and firmly found a place in what could be defined as classic rock in 2015. Bursting through the speakers were Guns ‘N’ Roses “Sweet Child ‘O Mine” and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as Smith took more time to show his appreciation to fans. Again, the crowd erupted in cheers as a country music band became an epic group of rockstars.
For his encore, Granger Smith returned to the stage as Earl Dibbles, Jr., his honkytonking alter ego from the backwoods. Singing one apropos song for the audience, Hank William, Jr.’s “Countrys Boy Can Survive,” Dibbles traversed the stage in a “wife beater” tank top, overalls, and a ball cap, mock shooting at things in the distance with a microphone stand.
Of course, an Earl Dibbles, Jr. show is incomplete without his recognizably decorated guitar, complete with neon green tape spelling out the word “DIP” on the back:
Playing his part to form, Dibbles got the entire country music-loving crowd riled up before exiting the stage and calling it a night … that is before he made his return to sign each and every piece of merchandise purchased after the show.
Granger Smith is one of the nicest, most humble, down-to-earth, and talented artists you will come across. Not only does he have a catalog of songs a mile long, including seven studio albums, but he his a knack for diversity, fan appreciation, and humor like no other. A true entertainer on stage, a Granger Smith/Earl Dibbles, Jr. show is one you will not want to miss. From the opening note to the very last one, Smith and his band can hold a room’s attention like few groups can.
To put it best, a Tucson local who is also involved in the country music industry (and has been out on tour with some of country’s biggest names) stated “this was the best show I have ever seen in this venue.” It seems as though subsequent acts will have huge shoes to fill to measure up to what Granger Smith did at Denim & Diamonds in Tucson, Arizona.
Thank you to Granger Smith and the entire band for a memorable night!