Big & Rich showed up late for their own party Wednesday (July 25) at the Nashville digs of Warner Bros. Records, the supercharged duo’s home label, but the well-fed and well-lubricated revelers didn’t seem to mind.
Organized to celebrate Big & Rich’s first No. 1 single, “Lost in This Moment,” the gala kicked off at 3:30 p.m., but the guests of honor didn’t make their entrance until 4:50.
Although the award ceremony was held indoors, the focal point of the party was the record company’s airy second floor veranda overlooking Music Row’s fabled 16th Avenue. A large canvas canopy shielded guests from the sun’s intermittent rays, and industrial-strength fans crouched around the circumference of the veranda to welcome the natural breezes.
At the center of it all was a buffet table mounded high with fresh fruit, vegetables and cheeses, along with more manly fare for the carnivores. Partygoers stood or sat at black-clothed tables sprinkled around the table and chatted over piped in samples from Big & Rich’s new album, Between Raising Hell and Amazing Grace.
Among the familiar faces circulating through the crowd were Alabama lead vocalist Randy Owen, former TV host Gary Chapman and Big & Rich’s sidekick and fellow entertainer, Two Foot Fred.
“We couldn’t be prouder to present these knuckleheads with this award,” Warner Bros. chief Bill Bennett said with enthusiasm as he welcomed the ever-dapper John Rich and the reliably funky Big Kenny Alphin to a tiny makeshift stage.
Bennett noted that over the past three years, Big & Rich have sold 5 million CDs. He then asserted the duo should be named country music’s “entertainer of the year.”
“They’re the coolest thing in country music right now,” agreed Tammy Genovese, chief operating officer of the Country Music Association, when she came forward to bestow certificates of honor on the beaming pair.
“It’s really cool,” Rich responded, “when the CMA reaches out to guys as frightening as we are.”
Dale Bobo, senior vice president of Warner/Chappell Music, one of the song’s publishers, saluted Alphin for his work in attempting to alleviate the effects of the genocide taking place in Darfur.
BMI and ASCAP, the two major performance rights organizations, paid tribute to the song’s composers — Rodney Clawson, Keith Anderson and Rich. An illness in his family prevented Anderson from attending the party, but BMI’s Jody Williams presented a guitar and a trophy to Clawson, who, he observed, has placed eight songs on the charts within the past year. Williams also gave awards to Rich and Alphin for their work on the single as artists and producers.
Big & Rich praised Warner Bros. chief creative officer Paul Worley for having the “vision” to understand their music and to sign them to a recording deal.
Warner Bros. wrapped up the presentations by giving Rich and Alphin each a painting by Nashville artist Rachel Kice. Like Big & Rich, Kice is a member of MuzikMafia, the Nashville-based artist collaborative. She is known for the on-the-spot paintings she creates of artists as they perform on stage.
“Make sure you put in there,” Rich implored the reporters who were covering the party, “how much we appreciate the MuzikMafia.” He ended his remarks by thanking Bennett for indulging his and Alphin’s intensity about their music.
“We have only so many songs we can write and record until somebody else comes in here and kicks us out,” he explained.