South Bend Country Fest
at Four Winds Field
June 21st, 2014

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Big & Rich with Cowboy Troy, Jo Dee Messina, and J.T. Hodges

South Bend Parks & Rec proceeds to support special needs activities, the development of Miracle Park, and create awareness of our local special needs families.

Big & Rich
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They are America's Technicolor cowboys, brothers-in-arms in service to the creed that great music has no boundaries. Individually, John Rich and Big Kenny Alphin are first-rate musicians, songwriters, producers and entertainers. Together, they are one of the most truly original musical forces ever unleashed on a welcoming world.

With the release of Hillbilly Jedi, they reassert their position as modern music's best party soundtrack with songs like "Party Like Cowboyz," "Rock the Boat" and "Get Your Game On." As might be expected, though, given the wide sweep of their talent, they do a great deal more. Their music has always displayed great range, with well-crafted songs about love, loss, patriotism and social issues all interspersed among those party anthems, and that is especially true here. Hillbilly Jedi covers a great deal of stylistic ground, from "Last Words," which John describes as "Roy Orbison meets Queen," and "Lay It All On Me," a meditation on happiness and love set amid a hauntingly beautiful track complete with choir, to "'Cause I Play Guitar," a bluesy bauble celebrating the fruits of the rocking life.

And if there is any doubt about the anticipation level for this, their first album since 2007's Between Raising Hell and Amazing Grace, it can be put to rest by the fact that Hillbilly Jedi's lead single, "That's Why I Pray," became their fastest riser since "Lost In This Moment," which climbed to the top of the charts five years earlier. A topical spiritual anthem, "That's Why I Pray" is the cry of a battered but hopeful soul in a world whose turmoil is splattered 24/7 across the world's airwaves, brought to life by two artists adept at capturing real emotional resonance. It is also a song that displays the pair's willingness to reach beyond their own formidable songwriting talents as they seek to make the best possible music.

Cowboy Troy
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A six-foot five-inch, hick-hop artist is going to get a response, and Cowboy Troy is okay with the strong reactions and endless questions. "I have crazy intentions," he says with a grin. But anyone who thinks that the Cowboy Troy experience ends there, doubts his country credentials, or is inclined to dismiss him as a novelty, is in for quite a surprise. "People have different paths," Troy says. "I'm not going to apologize for my music, because this is who I am. I didn't just wake up one morning, put on a cowboy hat, and get a gig rapping on a country album. You don't do something for 15 years on a lark."

Cowboy Troy rapped his way into the country mainstream on the first cut of Big & Rich's 2004 debut Horse Of A Different Color. And while his admonition to "let go of all your preconceived notions" certainly wasn't the first time elements of rap had been incorporated into country, it was the boldest statement yet. Explaining the journey that placed Troy Coleman at this unlikely intersection is as complicated as explaining the evolution of American culture. At the same time it's as simple as the story of a kid from Texas who did what all kids do--he soaked up the world around him.

In addition to solo releases [Loco Motive (2005), Black in the Saddle (2007), and Demolition Mission (2009)], Troy has spent time on TV. He’s been a part of the ESPN College Gameday video intro along with Big & Rich since the 2006 football season. He also served as co-host for USA Network’s Nashville Star in 2006 and 2007. Most recently Troy performed on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars on the final episode of 2012 Spring season. His appearance in Big & Rich’s Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy video, as well as his own I Play Chicken With the Train and Hick Chick videos remind viewers of his “party starter” nature.

Jo Dee Messina
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Part of country music's late-'90s crop of female crossover stars, Jo Dee Messina's appeal nonetheless remained more with country fans than pop audiences. Messina was born August 25, 1970, in Framingham, Massachusetts, and grew up in nearby Holliston. She sang in musical plays starting at age eight but discovered country music at age 12 and got hooked on the likes of the Judds, Reba McEntire, and Dolly Parton.

Messina's self-titled debut album was released in 1996 and gave her two Top Ten hits in "Heads Carolina, Tails California" (number two) and "You're Not in Kansas Anymore." The album sold well, setting the stage for Messina's star-making sophomore effort, I'm Alright. Released in 1998, it made Messina the first female country artist to score three multiple-week number one hits from the same album: "Bye Bye," "I'm Alright," and "Stand Beside Her." She nearly had a fourth, but "Lesson in Leavin'" stalled at number two. Honored by both the CMA and ACM in 1999, Messina staked out even pop-friendlier territory on her third album, 2000's Burn. It became her first number one album, and the lead single, "That's the Way," her fourth number one single. Two more Top Tens followed in "Burn" and "Downtime," and a fourth single, the Tim McGraw duet "Bring on the Rain," also topped the charts, helping Burn sell over a million copies. Messina followed it with the holiday album A Joyful Noise in late 2002, and just months later, with only three albums to her credit, Curb released a Greatest Hits compilation. Finally, in 2005, she released her official follow-up to Burn, Delicious Surprise. Messina had already begun work on her next project, an album to be called Unmistakable, when Delicious Surprise was released, and although a couple of singles hit the radio, Unmistakable itself did not appear until 2010. Messina's long-running contract with Curb Records ended in 2012, and her next album, Me, which appeared early in 2014 on her own Dreambound Records imprint, was funded through a Kickstarter campaign.

J.T. Hodges
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JT Hodges has spent the last year embracing his new-found growth in making music. Becoming who he is instinctively as an artist remains the cornerstone of his new album as it did the first. After several months in the studio, he is most proud of never losing the honesty of himself or the music and where it has taken him. He had a vision to make it unique with a sound that was different. This defines where he is as an artist. The new music shows different parts of Hodges’ personality and his unique ability to be a storyteller through his lyrics. The Texas newcomer’s original and raucous sound combined with his soulful lyrics make him an undeniable country-rock classic. Hodges has produced himself and worked with a variety of other producers including Busbee, Nathan Chapman, Don Cook, Ross Copperman and Show Dog- Universal Music President Mark Wright --- who has worked on both Hodges’ freshman and current sophomore effort. He has collaborated with numerous award winning songwriters such as Rivers Rutherford, Chris Stapleton, Shane McAnally, Eric Paslay, Nathan Chapman, Ross Copperman, Don Cook and Mark Wright. He has toured with the likes of Eric Church, Eli Young Band, Toby Keith and Miranda Lambert among others. He has also performed multiple times on the legendary stage of the Grand Ole Opry.