Darin & Brooke wow the fans on Country Cruise

On last month’s Country Music Cruise, sailing from Ft Lauderdale, FL, bluegrass and Gospel greats Darin & Brooke Aldridge not only won over the audience of country music fans, but also caught the attention of superstars The Oak Ridge Boys.

They were the only performing representatives of bluegrass on the cruise, and as always is the case, the contrast between a virtuosic acoustic act stands out favorably against their country cousins. Well known grassers Ricky Skaggs and Shawn Camp were also on the cruise lineup, but Ricky was doing his electric show, and Shawn was there as a songwriter. Marty Raybon was also aboard, but with Shenadoah.

Manager Brian Smith accompanied them on the cruise, and tells us that Darin and Brooke’s impact on the other entertainers was immediate.

“The Oaks immediately took to Darin & Brooke and invited them to participate in their big Gospel Show in the main theater, and invited them to participate in their portion of the Grand Ole Opry at Sea segment at the end of the show. Jimmy Fortune, a close friend and supporter, had them appear as part of his main theater show as well, giving them two unplanned but very important opportunities to appear in the main showroom before packed house of over 1,500 fans each time.

By virtue of these unplanned appearance their regularly scheduled shows were packed with new fans who discovered them during the other sets.”

The Country Cruise featured a long list of star performers, including comedy Jeff Foxworthy, Patty Loveless, Ronnie Milsap, The Bellamy Brothers in addition to the artists previously mentioned.

The Aldridge’s were as taken by the kindness of their fellow entertainers as they were by their talent. They offered an overview of how things looked from their perspective.

“Words and pictures can’t fully describe the week at sea we experienced aboard the 2019 Country Music Cruise. We we’re truly honored to share the stage with so many of our heroes and musical legends, that over the last few years have became some of our closest friends.

We appeared last year as part of Jimmy Fortune’s group, but this year we were asked to return with our own amazing band! That included Carley Arrowood, Billy Gee, and visiting banjoist, the great Jason Burleson. We were fortunate to be asked to perform on many additional shows that included the Gospel show with the Oak Ridge Boys, as well as singing on the finale for the Grand Ole Opry at Sea with Ricky Skaggs, Jimmy Fortune, Jeannie Seely, and The Oaks. Both shows were in the huge, sold-out main showroom theater.

We were invited to be on a cooking show with Lorianne Crook, where our own recipe was featured on the ship’s menu for the Gala dinner later that night. We performed a duet in a big tribute to “Waylon Jennings and the Outlaws of Country Music” show, also in the main theater. We also hosted our own meet and greet session, in addition to performing four of our own headlining shows to a most welcoming audience over the course of the 7 day, sold-out cruise.

Darin was also invited to be a part of two of Jimmy Fortune’s shows as a guest member of his band. Later in the week we hosted two separate, stellar late night ALL STAR bluegrass jams with wonderful friends and musicians on the ship that included Billy Gee, Carley Arrowood, Jason Burleson, John Meyer, Jenee Fleenor, Deanie Richardson, Marty Raybon, Joe Diffie, Shawn Camp, Jimmy Fortune, Brandon Bostic, Russ Carson, and Jake Workman. Brooke was also a part of all-star version of the Family Feud Game Show with Johnny Lee and Jeannie Seely.

The entire week was truly remarkable, finding us making lifelong friends, lasting memories and thanking God for this unforgettable experience.”

Well done, Darin & Brooke. Thanks for representing bluegrass so well on the high seas!

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.