John Rich of Big & Rich says the Carolina Country Music Fest in the ‘Redneck Riviera’ was his idea

Kenny Alphin and John Rich of Big & Rich perform in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)
Kenny Alphin and John Rich of Big & Rich perform in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images) Getty Images

John Rich said it was about a year ago when he was talking with Full House Productions President Bob Durkin about his new lifestyle line and the need for a country music festival in the Southeast.

“I trademarked the phrase ‘Redneck Riviera’ and I have a lifestyle line,” he said. “What better place [than Myrtle Beach] to have a country music festival?”

Rich said he planted the seed with Durkin and Full House Productions to bring a large-scale music festival to Myrtle Beach leading to the January announcement of the Carolina Country Music Fest.

Big & Rich will be one of the 35 acts performing during the three-day music festival Friday through Sunday on the former Myrtle Beach Pavilion property which includes headliners Eric Church, Rascal Flatts and Lady Antebellum. There also will be a kickoff concert Thursday featuring Sam Hunt.

Rich talks about the Carolina Country Music Fest, his history with Myrtle Beach, his Redneck Riviera lifestyle line and the state of country music.

On the Carolina Country Music Fest:

“It’s massive,” Rich said. “It makes sense for Myrtle Beach because it’s in this 400-mile stretch in the south that has the highest concentration of country music fans. … These are people who work hard and play hard.

“There are people from more than 100 miles away [from Myrtle Beach] Tweeting me and telling me they’re coming. You have to go 200 miles south or north or west before hitting another [similar festival]. There was a huge light bulb missing for the country music fans.

“Myrtle Beach is going to be very pleasantly surprised. And it will be so cool to have a yearly event … and every year you’ll have 30,000 to 50,000 people coming to town.

“Anybody within driving distance of this thing is going to want to be there. This is going to become a tradition for Myrtle Beach.”

On visiting Myrtle Beach:

“I’ve been there several times with Big & Rich. And I used to be in a band called Lonestar. We played in Myrtle Beach all the time at the [Beach Wagon] and at The Bowery.

“And we always used to go there as a kid and hit the beach. It’s the perfect combination of beaches and the south.

“There’s a whole energy that is great there. It’s one of the greatest places in the United States to go. When people can’t go to the French Riviera, they go to the Redneck Riviera – where all the normal people go.”

On the ‘Redneck Riviera’:

“You know they call Myrtle Beach the Redneck Riviera. I’ve always thought that was one of the greatest phrases ever. … So I trademarked the phrase and created a whole lifestyle line.

“I’ll have a tent set up [during the festival] and will have the products out there – a boot line, summer footwear, apparel line, beer – it’s a full lifestyle line. And I’ll sign autographs and talk about the line.

“I always thought [the brand] would be a good component for a country music festival in Myrtle Beach.”

On doing another reality show:

“I might do another reality show. I won ‘[The] Celebrity Apprentice’ and raised $1.4 million for St. Jude’s [Children’s Research Hospital].

“I like shows like ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ – I love that concept. Some of the reality shows are too much. Some people need to watch those shows for the drama. I have enough drama in my life.

“I’m approached to do stuff, though. My family is off limits – my kids, you won’t see any picture of them anywhere.

“But if it’s a reality show dealing with music and entrepreneurship, I might do it. There are a few possibilities out there.”

On the state of country music:

“Going back it’s always been [that certain artists aren’t considered ‘real’ country]. Johnny Cash wasn’t considered country back then.

“I think the fans decide what is and is not country music. If it’s getting purchased, then it’s doing well.

“What’s great about country music is it’s exactly what it is – it’s music for the country.”

Contact MAYA T. PRABHU at 444-1722 or on Twitter @TSN_mprabhu.

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