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Big & Rich’s John Rich announces plans that will make every country fan’s day Al Powers/Invision/AP
Big Kenny, left, and John Rich, of musical duo Big & Rich, arrive at the 48th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday, April 7, 2013. (Photo by Al Powers/Invision/AP)

They’re bright, busy, bustling and full of music, sparkle and energy, and now downtown Nashville and the Las Vegas strip are about to get a little more redneck.

Big & Rich’s John Rich has announced that he’ll be opening two live music venues inspired by his childhood vacation destination — the Redneck Riviera.

In a conference call on the morning of Aug. 2, John explained to Rare Country, “The phrase Redneck Riviera has been around since the 1960s. It’s a phrase that people use to really talk about where they go to have fun — whether it’s a lake or a beach or wherever. It’s kind of a funny phrase: ‘If you can’t afford to go to the French Riviera, you go to the Redneck Riviera.'”

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He continued, “I was down in Gulf Shores, Alabama sitting right in the middle of the Redneck Riviera, and I wondered if anybody had ever taken the phrase and really focused and done something great with it. I found out that nobody had ever really worked with that phrase before on a national level. For me, growing up as a kid, I called it the Redneck Riviera. I’ll never forget the first time I was in salt water was down there in Panama City Beach [Florida] with my dad, brothers, sisters and mom. It was one of my best memories from being a kid, so I started working on how do you build out products and experiences around the phrase ‘Redneck Riviera,’ what does it really mean? To me, it’s people who work hard and they play hard, too. So, that’s the narrative that we have built this brand on: ‘Redneck Riviera is America’s work hard, play hard brand.'”

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The Redneck Riviera brand began with the launch of a now successful footwear and apparel line, currently on sale in all 50 states, but that wasn’t enough for the entrepreneur, who was declared the winner on season 11 of “The Apprentice.” He wanted to capture the feeling of that work hard, play hard lifestyle, along with his own childhood memories, and make it accessible to others.

“In my mind, one of the coolest things to do and one of the most difficult things to do is to have brick-and-mortar locations. And, in my mind, how great would it be for people to have a couple of destination spots to actually go to the Redneck Riviera and experience that energy and experience that vibe and that lifestyle for people who work hard and play hard, too. They can walk through those front doors and have the time of their lives and make memories while they’re there,” he said.

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The two locations — one on Nashville’s historic Lower Broadway and the other in the Grand Bazaar in Las Vegas — will open in late 2016. They both will offer a house band with live music every night. In addition, national acts will be brought in for special ticketed events.

And still, that wasn’t enough for the man who honored veterans of Vietnam in the song “8th of November.”

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“There is an interior bar inside the Redneck Riviera that we call the ‘Heroes Bar.’ Now, the Heroes Bar is built for our veterans and active duty military personnel. So, if you’re active duty or a veteran and you come into the Redneck Riviera… you sit down and meet the bartender, who, by the way will be a veteran, and your first drink is on the house. For me and everybody involved, that’s our way of saying, ‘Job well done. Thank you for your service.’” John also said that the Heroes Bar will be decorated with armed forces memorabilia, including his personnel collection of military coins.

Sounds like one heckuva party, huh? Actually, it is a bit of a tailgate party and John revealed one feature is drop down tailgates along a wall where you can actually sit on a tailgate and enjoy the music along with a cold drink. Oh, and expect John to announce a contest for fans to contribute cocktail recipes.

So, hold a few vacation days for later this year because you can bet that there will be a line to get into these two great new destinations. For more details, go to RedneckRiviera.com.

Based in Nashville, Tammy is a 20-year veteran of the country music community. She has worked in marketing, PR and artist development. Follow her @TammyGooGoo and join the conversation @RareCountry
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