Singer / songwriter John Rich, who represents half of the country band Big & Rich, sits in his Redneck Riviera Bar in downtown Nashville, talking about a busy and highly successful 2021.
On the music side, he and Big Kenny (the other half of Big & Rich) maintained a regular touring schedule throughout the year, and then, over the holidays, Rich recorded a Christmas song with Mike Rowe called ” Santa’s Gotta Dirty Job “which tops the charts for singles of all genres on iTunes and Billboard.
When he’s not making music, Rich stays focused on his various activities, including his Redneck Riviera bar on Nashville’s Lower Broadway. The bar is the flagship of its Redneck Riviera brand which started with a clothing line in 2014, and now includes a wide range of products.
“I have the bar,” he explains, “then, Redneck Riviera Whiskey. I have a barbecue sauce which is now in three thousand stores. We have a clothing line and a shoe line in all fifty states. “
That’s a long list considering he just launched the brand just over seven years ago.
Rich is an award-winning singer-songwriter who sang with the band Lonestar, before joining the country duo Big & Rich. Rich and Big Kenny released their debut studio album Horse of a different color in 2004 who included the hit song “Save a Horse (Ride A Cowboy)”. Since then, the two have been recording and touring together.
“We did a lot of gigs this year, once the going was up,” says Rich. “It’s interesting because you would think the further you got in your career things would start to go down, but not for us. I think it’s because we have a history of having a show so energetic, impactful, and fun.
He says it was while he and Big Kenny were on the road that he got the idea of making his own whiskey.
“I was a guy from Crown Royal, which is a Canadian blended whiskey,” says Rich, “and had drunk all those years on the road with Big Kenny. Then one day I was looking at this bottle of Crown Royal and I was reading it and I was like: Canadian Blended Whiskey? I wonder if there is such a thing as American blended whiskey.
He started asking questions about it when he walked into liquor stores in different cities.
“I walked in and asked the seller, hey buddy, can you show me where your blended american whiskey is?” And every time, I got the same answer: “We don’t have anything called that. “
Rich began to think that if he saw a bottle with the phrase “American blended whiskey” he would probably buy it, and he figured others would too. So he started to do some research.
“I thought I didn’t know how to make whiskey, but I know what I like about whiskey and what I don’t like. So I called, called a master still and said, here’s what I’m trying to do.
He had already registered the name “Redneck Riviera” years earlier. As he worked to create his own whiskey, it would take over a year and he would go through some 200 variations before finally deciding on the blend. He brought it to his 86-year-old grandmother for the final taste test and Granny Rich gave it her approval.
Whiskey is available in stores across the country and he proudly serves it at his Redneck Riviera bar and concert hall in downtown Nashville. The bar is known for its strong support for veterans and even has a “hero bar”. Rich, whose grandfather was a World War II veteran, says it is extremely important for him to honor those who served. He says everything he has is based on his ability to pursue the American Dream and he credits those who have served and continue to serve in the military.
“The only reason a guy like me, who graduated from high school and grew up in a double-width trailer in Amarillo, TX, can achieve all of this is because I have the right to research happiness, to exhaust my potential. And the only reason we have these rights is because men and women, for over two hundred years, have been willing to die to keep the law alive.
It also supports the military by donating 10% of the profits from the sales of its Redneck Riviera products to Folds of Honor. The non-profit organization helps children who have lost their parents in battle to attend university.
“The reason I bonded with them was because I couldn’t think of a better way to say thank you than to take care of someone’s children. If you said, John, if something happened to you, what would you want me to do, I’d say make sure my boys are okay. And that’s what Folds of Honor does. Education is one of the most valuable things you can give to someone.
Rich says much of “his” education came from studying by those who came before him, and the same is true both in music and in business. He’s always been looking for mentors and says when he got into music he called managers of famous artists like George Jones, Ray Stevens, Mel Tillis. Most of the time he was successful. He says when it comes to business you can learn from others, but you also have to be prepared to fend for yourself.
“When it comes to Redneck Riviera, it’s an entrepreneurial effort. Entrepreneurship is one of the most dangerous and rewarding things you can do. It’s a high risk, a high reward. And for that, you have to have a strong stomach. I think having been in the music business for all these years has probably helped me prepare to step in and do things like what I’m doing now, because I understand that it won’t. a bed of roses.
Rich has a deep admiration for anyone who is willing to do whatever it takes to make their dreams come true. A great patriot, he is often frank when it comes to his country. He believes that everyone has the right to “seek happiness”. In fact, when FOX News Network introduced him to his own show on the Commercial Channel, he thought about what kind of show he wanted to create and decided to call it “The Pursuit.” The show itself tends to stay away from politics and focuses on overcoming obstacles and making dreams come true.
“I sit down and talk to American go-getters, dream hunters and entrepreneurs,” he explains. “These are people who, regardless of their background, political beliefs, ideologies or whatever, can sit down and have a long conversation. We focus on what we really have in common, which is the pursuit of happiness in America. “
Guests included football player and coach Eddie George, celebrity chef Maneet Chauhan, NASCAR legend Richard Petty, country singer Brantley Gilbert, rock star Meat Loaf and others.
“People tell me they love the show because it’s inspiring. For example, to find out about Meat Loaf, one of the greatest rock stars of all time, at 18, he had to break two of his father’s ribs to prevent him from killing Meat Loaf with a butcher knife. His father was a rampant alcoholic and Meat Loaf was left homeless for a year. Who knew that? “
Rich’s goal with each episode is to show that anyone can overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles if they are willing to work hard and keep moving forward. It’s a philosophy that has worked for him and that he will continue to follow in the future.
“How do you realize the American dream? You have to work hard and hopefully have a good time while you do it. Work hard and play hard, that’s what it is.