Diffie headlines Bluffs and Bayous festival

Published 12:16 am Sunday, October 21, 2012

Submitted photo — Joe Diffie

VIDALIA — If the sound coming from the Vidalia Riverfront next Saturday could be assigned a color, it would probably be John Deere green.

And even if the attendees don’t leave the amphitheater with a little honky tonk attitude, organizers are hoping they don’t walk away with a Texas-sized heartache.

Country music star Joe Diffie will be the headliner at the fifth Bluffs and Bayous Music Festival Saturday. Known for hits such as “Pickup Man,” “Bigger than the Beatles,” “Third Rock from the Sun” and “John Deere Green,” Diffie has released 10 studio albums and had five No. 1 singles as well as numerous other chart hits in the 1990s.

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The Bluffs and Bayous Music Festival is hosted annually by Highland Baptist Church, and festival organizer Mark Taylor said the festival is something the church does to reach out to the Miss-Lou community.

As part of that outreach, admission to the six-act festival is free.

“We just wanted to give something back to the community and there is not a whole lot of free stuff you can go to the Natchez area, so we decided the best thing was to have a festival for people to come to that is family-oriented, where they can maybe get something to eat and that doesn’t cost any money (to get in),” Taylor said.

Because the festival is meant to be a family-friendly event, Taylor said the acts that are booked for it have to meet certain guidelines, and — after looking at several other possible headliner acts — Diffie met those guidelines.

“(Diffie) basically met a lot of our criteria because he has good, wholesome, family-oriented songs, he has a few Christian songs and overall you don’t see a lot of negative stuff about him,” Taylor said.

“And his music is still being played on the radio today, so people can relate to him.”

Other acts that have been booked for the festival include two regional bands, Judah Seed and Crossing Over, both of which perform contemporary Christian music. Judah Seed has played the festival since its inception.

Another return act is the Sensational Harris Brothers, a Gospel music quartet from Memphis.

“We wanted to try to be diverse and give something for everybody to listen to, so we booked the Harris Brothers, who are a black Gospel group,” Taylor said.

“They do a great job on the stage.”

Also returning is Hannah Belle Southerland, a singer-songwriter who is a Jefferson County native who records in Nashville. Her single “Porchin’ It” was nominated for Best Country Video of the year by the Independent Country Music Association.

New to the festival this year is Joe Arview, a country and Christian musician from Southern Illinois.

Highland Baptist Church Pastor Paul Southerland — Hannah Belle’s father — met Arview at the Country Music Awards in Nashville and thought he would be a good fit for the festival, Taylor said.

Alcohol will not be available at the event, and will not be permitted on the festival grounds.

The gates will open at 1 p.m., with the first band taking the stage between 2:30 and 3 p.m.

Taylor said Diffie should go on stage between 7:30 and 8 p.m.

The tentative lineup for the festival will be as follows:

4The Sensational Harris Brothers

4Crossing Over

4Judah Seed

4Joe Arview and Thunder

4Hannah Belle

4Joe Diffie