After Brookfield, we hopped down to Tinley Park to see the "Dueces Wild" tour, featuring three of country music's best duos: The Warren Brothers, Big & Rich, and Brooks & Dunn.
Awesome show. Simply awesome. If you consider yourself to be "too cool for country" or if you have a hard time accepting that country music is the hottest on the planet these days, do yourself a favor and go to one of the current hot shows.
Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Chesney, Montgomery Gentry, Toby Keith, all of these shows feature true country music, and mix in a high amount of rock & roll, not only to the visual presentation, but to the musical mix as well. For example, Chesney features AC/DC blaring through the PA before he comes on stage. Montgomery Gentry favor Skynyrd.
Back to last night's show: The Warren Brothers kicked it off. They have their own reality series on CMT called "Barely Famous". The guys are well known around Nashville as songwriters but have yet to score big as artists - through no fault of their own. Their music is funny, rockin', irreverant, and hooky. Country has a problem right now in that consultants tell us to only focus on the big names...making it damn hard for new acts like this to catch a break. Fortunately, at WXCL we make an effort to give them a chance. Jeffrey Steele, The Warren Brothers, and Shooter Jennings are just a few of the acts that we have given airplay too, but have yet to have been "accepted" by the radio consultants who run our format.
Big & Rich came on next. If you haven't heard of these guys, you've been in a cave. Big is Big Kenny Alphin, who has the words "Love Everybody" flashing in green neon on the back side of his guitar. Rich is John Rich, an original member of Lonestar who left the group when they decided to go all sappy, the lite rock version of country. I call Lonestar "Lone Supply"
Anyway, back to Big & Rich. Their smash "Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy" is a new cult classic. Imagine 30,000 people all yelling it in unison at a show that they weren't even the headline act. If there were old school Brooks & Dunn fans there last night who didn't know Big & Rich, they were in a minority. I'd say a 99-to-1 minority from the sound of it. These guys are the ambassadors of love. Unlike country stereotypes, they ARE inclusive, featuring Bill Dennis' favorite act, cowboy rapper Cowboy Troy, a self described "6-foot-4 black Texas hick."
Two-foot Fred is a big part of the show, a cool dude who has been featured in several Big & Rich videos. I put in a link to his website. You'll just have to go there to find out about him.
Big & Rich bring that rock presentation to the hilt, with a light and fireworks show, thumping drum and bass beats, a Joe Walsh-like lead guitarist who strolls back and forth across the stage, long hair bouncing, playing with the crowd, tossing picks into the throng, putting on a show. Rich likes rhinestones so much, you just know he had a parent who grew up working in the "sequin mines of Kentucky", as Dennis Miller once said.
Kenny is a nut. Cowboy Troy is talented, and when the band did his "I Play Chicken With the Train", the crowd went nuts. Everyone in front, to the sides, and behind us knew the song, the words, everything. Troy has sold 225,000 albums with no radio airplay this year. Doesn't speak too well for my industry, does it.
All in all, a marvelous show. Next time Big & Rich or Brooks & Dunn come within driving distance, get a ticket. You'll thank me later.