Big & Rich are Big Kenny and John Rich
With BIG & RICH; GRETCHEN WILSON;
8 p.m. Sept. 4
Rotary Hill, 445 Aurora Ave., Naperville
Updated: November 16, 2011 1:42AM
When the wind came up and the stage came down on that recent Saturday night in Indianapolis, the country music family once again found themselves banding together. Not only did they mourn for all of the extraordinary fans who simply came out on a hot August night to enjoy the music of Sugarland only to have their lives cut short, but also they mourned for all those who were left behind to deal with an onslaught of injuries and memories.
For the country duo of Big & Rich, the tragedy hit especially close to home, as they personally knew members of the Sugarland crew who witnessed the tragedy firsthand that sad and stormy night.
“Our hearts just pour out for all those people,” recalls the usually flamboyant and outspoken Big Kenny, one half of the wildly successful Big & Rich. “It’s been an insane couple of years in terms of Mother Nature. The floods, the earthquakes, the tornados … we have already had to evacuate from two shows this summer. We routinely have someone right off stage checking the radar these days. Of course, weather is out of our control and you can’t fear living your life. But these recent events have definitely humbled us and remind us all to appreciate the life we get to live.”
Preparing to hit the outdoor stage at Naperville’s Last Fling on Sept. 4, “Big” Kenny, “Apprentice” winner John Rich, Gretchen Wilson and special guest Cowboy Troy are united once again under the unmistakable musical umbrella of MuzikMafia, originally assembled back in 2001 at an “open mic” night in Nashville.
Known for such hits as “Save a Horse,” “Lost in This Moment” and the heartrending ballad “8th of November,” Big & Rich have sold more than 5 million records and have multiple ACM, AMA, CMA and CMT awards, along with the always-coveted Grammy nomination.
“It’s been an absolute blast getting out there on stage all together again,” says Big Kenny, who called from his tour bus/mobile office that he parks in the backyard of his Nashville home when he’s off tour. “It’s just one hit song after another, going back and forth between us and Gretchen. Every song just weaves together. It’s the story of our lives.”
On top of playing dates on their Xtreme Muzik tour and supporting their ever present “music without prejudice” mantra, the pair will be featured in the upcoming movie remake of “Footloose” via their latest single “Fake ID.”
“I remember John [Rich] leaning across the airplane aisle years ago telling me about this song, and we are thrilled it made its way into the film,” says Kenny. “I’m like everyone else. I have seen ‘Footloose’ a ton of times. But now, this movie takes the story of small town America and brings it to the present. [Director] Craig Brewer heard a demo of “Fake ID” and wanted to get us in the film. We are just so psyched to be a part of it.”
Tricia Despres is a local free-lance writer.