The duo is made up of John Rich and Big Kenny, two musicians whose combined talents form a kind of music unlikely to fit in any one specific genre. In what seems to most often not be the case, their music is always fresh-sounding and new. They call it "country music without prejudice."
Their band is further evidence of their philosophy. Band members include Cowboy Troy, the world's only six-foot, five-inch, 250-pound black cowboy rapper. Cowboy Troy speaks three languages and has a degree in economics to boot. Another member, Limo Larry, was once a homeless drug addict and is now a Nashville living legend. He uses his limousine to drive inebriated musicians around Nashville every night. Tim the Electrician is a tough little guy with a big mustache and a red macaw named Santana who is usually found clinging to his owner's shoulder.
The duo themselves appear differently also. Big Kenny, whose real name is Kenny Alphin, is a six-foot-three former carpenter known around Nashville as the city's universal minister of love. John Rich, who is much shorter, dresses more like a traditional country music artist, often wearing a hat and a constant gleam in his eye.
What the two have in common is a number of years in the music industry, where each rode waves of success up and down the verge of popularity. Big Kenny recorded his debut album in 1999, but the album's release date was pushed back so many times, it eventually fell off the radar. John Rich, who had written a number of songs for various artists, was also a founding member of the group Lonestar. His writing and singing talents helped the group reach the top pf the charts before he realized he wanted pursue his solo career.
Together, Big & Rich unexpectedly took country music by storm in 2004, most notably with their crossover hit "Save a Horse [Ride a Cowboy]." The two are also the producers/songwriters behind Gretchen Wilson and her hit "Redneck Woman."
Their first album, "Horse of a Different Color" tells their story, as well as that of the band and their philosophy. In their minds, they are throwing a party, and they want to make sure everybody is invited.
"Music just shouldn't have limits," says Big Kenny. "We grab 'em with the humor and the happiness, but then we want them to feel every emotion. And you can do anything you want with a song."
The Big & Rich party arrives at the Tex Turner Arena on Lincoln Memorial University's main campus in Harrogate, on Saturday, April 23.
Tickets are on sale now at the Tex Turner Arena box office, by phone at 423-869-6355 and on-line at www.lmutickets.com. Ticket prices range from $35 to $45. The event is sponsored in part by WIVK 107.7 and WVLT-TV Channel 8.