Want to go?
WHAT: Brian Diller and The Ride reunion concert
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Haddad Riverfront Park
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Brian Diller will tell you he has it pretty good. The 52-year-old Charleston native and Nashville resident has been married for 25 years and is still in awe of his wife.
"She's amazing," he said.
He has two great kids; the eldest, a musician, just graduated from high school and already has a management deal with people who want to make him a star.
He loves his job, too. Diller is the CEO for St. Luke's House, a nonprofit organization in Nashville that works through the Episcopal Church to help low-income working families, seniors and individuals through programs such as preschool, counseling and meals for the hungry.
It's a good life, but it's not the life Diller intended when he and bass player Steve Burgess packed up their instruments 20 years ago and moved to Music City, USA.
Saturday evening, the pair, along with the rest of their bandmates from '80s Charleston favorites Brian Diller and The Ride, come together for a free reunion show from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday at Haddad Riverfront Park, as part of FestivALL. It's the first time the entire band has shared the stage since the early 1990s.
Back when they were part of the Charleston music scene, there were few local bands bigger. Like most groups, they played a few cover songs, but they were better known for their original music -- much of it written by Diller.
In the late 1980s, they were a group on the move.
"We'd developed followings in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Washington, D.C.," Diller said. "We'd opened for all kinds of people. One year at Regatta, we opened for Ray Charles. The next year, we opened for Cheap Trick.
"There were a hundred thousand people at that show. It was like nothing I'd ever seen."
It was exciting, but there was only so far the band could go in West Virginia. In 1990, approaching his 30th birthday, Diller suddenly realized that if he wanted to write songs for a living, he needed to be where people bought songs.
Nashville was the closest, and during the 1980s, it had shifted from being the capital of country music to a broader pop-music mecca. Folk, contemporary Christian and rock bands were coming out of Nashville.
Diller and Burgess wanted to give it a shot, but the rest of the Ride couldn't relocate. They had jobs and families in the area or obligations that kept them from taking the leap. So Diller and Burgess went alone.
"Steve and I played every club you can imagine," Diller said. "We made the rounds with the music publishers."
They worked at it for two years. In the meantime, Diller said, the musical landscape of Nashville changed again. A young musician named Garth Brooks led a new pop-country music movement, and suddenly nobody in town really cared about rock 'n' roll.
At the same time, Diller and his wife wanted to start a family. For Diller, that meant a more stable home life and a dependable occupation. He decided to go back to school and get a degree.