From Wednesday’s Life section of The Oklahoman.
Reunited Big & Rich “Comin’ to Your City”
The bombastic duo is making the rounds on its “Xtreme Muzik…The Tour” and will have their new single “Fake I.D.” featured in the remake of “Footloose.”
Big & Rich are riding together again and they’re getting “Footloose.”
After spending a few years apart to pursue solo interests, bombastic country showmen John Rich and Big Kenny are comin’ to two Oklahoma cities this week on their “Xtreme Muzik…The Tour,” featuring Gretchen Wilson and Cowboy Troy, fellow members of their creative alliance known as MuzikMafia.
“It’s been so fun for all of us to get back together and feel that energy we used to feel at Mafia shows where we were each backing each other up on whatever anybody’s song was. And now we’ve got all this collection of hits that have come out over the years,” said Big Kenny in a phone interview from his tour bus, which was parked in his yard in Nashville, Tenn.
“It’s just nonstop music and creative energy and fun.”
As fans of the gonzo duo and their colorful cohorts might expect, the “Xtreme Muzik” shows Friday in Clinton and Saturday in Newkirk won’t adhere to concert customs like neatly divided sets. The tour features one band and one big party.
“We’re all onstage at one time, and sometimes we’ll go off stage, or we’ve got a bar on the stage so we’ll go up and hang out there for a couple songs. But the interaction just continually goes back and forth,” said Big Kenny, who leaves his surname, Alphin, out of his stage name.
Big & Rich blasted onto the music scene in 2004 and matched a showy country/rock/hip-hop sound with rowdy bravado. They racked up hits with the party anthems “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” and “Comin’ to Your City” and with serious ballads “8th of November” and “Lost in This Moment.”
In 2008, the duo went on hiatus so Big Kenny could have surgery to fix a neck injury he suffered when a drunken driver hit him in a 2002 car accident. After a neurosurgeon “put my neck back together like the Bionic Man,” the singer-songwriter and his musical partner both released solo albums. Earlier this year, Rich won the latest season of Donald Trump’s reality TV show “The Celebrity Apprentice.”
But Big & Rich always expected to saddle up and continue their musical ride together.
“We just continue to be inspired and both of us love making music. We both feel blessed that we’ve been able to take a little time off and get our families started and do some things individually that were important to each of us,” Big Kenny said. “Like last year, I just took the year and went around and played benefit shows for things I wanted to help out, from building homes for wounded warriors to helping my fifth-grade teacher feed 400 homeless kids outside of Tampa, Fla., to helping build a soapbox derby track in my hometown of Culpeper, Va.”
The duo is making its comeback with “Fake I.D.,” a raucous party song featuring Wilson. They played the new single in June on the CMT Music Awards, marking their first live performance as a duo in more than three years. They were featured playing the rollicking single on the Aug. 14 TV special “CMA Music Festival: Country’s Night to Rock,” too.
“Fake I.D.” also will rock movie screens in its entirety in “Footloose,” a remake of the iconic 1984 musical drama that starred Kevin Bacon, John Lithgow and Lori Singer and was loosely based on real-life events that happened in 1980 in Elmore City. “Hustle & Flow” filmmaker Craig Brewer, a pal of Big Kenny’s, directed and co-wrote the remake, due in theaters Oct. 14.
“I love the first version, but I like the second version even better,” said Big Kenny, who screened the film right before the duo’s tour began. “I love how he really connects with this story. It really feels to me like he really gets the concept of a rebel with a cause in the story line. And then he just uses so much music throughout the film, everything from Dirty South to Big & Rich with Gretchen Wilson. The music is just thumpin’ the whole time; it’s so cool.”
The “Footloose” remake is set to include music from Zac Brown, Cee Lo Green with Kenny Wayne Shepherd, The White Stripes, The Smashing Pumpkins and Three 6 Mafia. Tishomingo resident Blake Shelton will remake the famed theme, which Kenny Loggins popularized in the ’80s.
“I love that he (Brewer) really hits on the concept of what the MuzikMafia’s all about, and that’s music without prejudice. So many of us these days just like so many styles of music. As has been evident in Big & Rich’s music since the beginning: We love to make country music but to incorporate flavors of all the kinds of music that we’ve appreciated and grew up with.”
With football season approaching, Big & Rich recently filmed new commercials for ESPN’s College Game Day, which again will use “Comin’ to Your City” as its theme. And Oklahoma State University will be among the schools whose fans will use “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” as an unofficial anthem.
“It’s just so cool to see so many of our songs be theme songs for different people all across America. It’s an awesome thing,” Big Kenny said with his trademark big laugh. “We’re truly blessed to be able to make music that inspires people.”
“Xtreme Muzik…The Tour”
Featuring: Big & Rich, Gretchen Wilson and Cowboy Troy.
When: 8 p.m. Friday. Doors open at 7 p.m.
Where: Lucky Star Casino, 101 N. Indian Hospital Road, Clinton.
Information: (580) 323-6599 or www.luckystarcasino.org.
When: 8 p.m. Saturday. Doors open at 7 p.m.
Where: First Council Casino, 12875 N U.S. 77, Newkirk.
Information: (580) 448-3015 or www.myfirstwin.com.