Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A Day At “Larry’s Country Diner”

A Day At “Larry’s Country Diner”

The tables are set with blue and white checkered cloths and blue plastic cups.  There are waitresses carrying out baskets with food, there is live music, a jukebox against a wall and a restaurant manager with his assistant manager mingling and entertaining the dinner guests.  It could be Anywhere, USA, but huge lights are on and the cameras are rolling:  we are in a TV studio experiencing a taping of the popular RFD-TV show “Larry’s Country Diner”.


But, before anything commences, as around so many other tables around America and beyond, Larry Black, the show’s host, leads the assembled in a prayer.  He thanks the Lord above for our blessings, and the dinner service, I mean the show, can begin. 
After the countdown from the floor manager, Larry’s sidekick and award winning media personality Keith Bilbrey welcomes everyone to the program in his familiar cheerful and humoristic manner.  Larry carries his entertainment duties with pleasurable ease and it feels like being in someone’s living room or being part of a cozy gathering where everyone knows everybody – and everyone feels welcome.  In addition to the jovial and homey atmosphere, the dining customers and perfectly staged prop, they have music incorporated into the program on both the invisible jukebox - where random numbers are called out and the corresponding songs are played – and by live music guests.  On the day we were there, the four music guests – part of four different shows – were John Berry, 45 RPM, Wilson Fairchild and Bill Anderson.   At this diner the music performances are cued spontaneously by the host between relaxed chit chat and often epigrammatic jokes delivered from both Black and Bilbrey.  Even though the artists are headliners in their own right, the dining room’s unpretentious living room feel is well kept by the entertainers’ natural professionalism often accompanied by the well renowned and respected guitarist Jimmy Capps, who in this show carries the nickname “The Sheriff”.   Everyone working on the production team is at the right place at the right time too, and it feels as if the cameras aren’t even there.  After all, the show’s motto is “Where the cameras are rolling and we don’t care”.  That includes the beautiful, silver-haired and sweet smiling waitress Renae as well, who is comfortably and effortlessly carrying her country kitchen delicacies to the patrons and injecting humoristic comments as appropriate.  Speaking of humor, when one least expects it, Nadine, the church lady with a presence that can fill any room, enters and delivers one spontaneous joke after another.   You can tell she is as appreciated as any of the other cast members by the welcoming applause and lit up faces among the present.  “Larry’s Country Diner” is a unique concept that really has found its appreciative audience.  After all, they have 1.4 million viewers each month.


Shelley Ridge for Country Music News International
Country Music News International Magazine

Foot note:  The next episode of “Larry’s Country Diner” will air on RFD-TV Saturday September 17 at 11 pm CT.
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