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BIG 95.5 and Miller Lite hosted the #NextBigThing in Country at Old Crow Smokehouse in Wrigleyville last Thursday. The newcomer was Jackie Lee. I remember one of the deejays announcing the other act almost out of breath: Big & Rich. You could see Big N Rich for free. I enjoy their music and it was a free show.

Old Crow Smokehouse Wrigleyville. Photo from website.

Old Crow Smokehouse Wrigleyville. Photo from website.

I like Old Crow Smokehouse in Wrigley (see a review I did for Halfstack Magazine). I’d live there, but I spend as much time finding parking as I do driving down there. But being in Wrigley also adds to its charm. There’s a magic  on that drag of North Clark as it leads to Wrigley Field.

I was surprised the venue wasn’t as packed as it was for the last free show I attended. The Cubs weren’t playing and they were last time. It was also a weekday. The people were a lot nicer. A guy moved his friend when he didn’t hear me say, “Excuse me.” When Miller Lite did their Five Minute Pour, a girl closer to the bar asked if I wanted one.

After the bathroom I told myself I need to get to the back. Why? My mind asked. I stood third row. I had a great view of the stage. People could see over me. I didn’t have to go to the back.

As luck would have it, I stood with another girl who came by herself. She was a huge Big & Rich fan.

Country Artist Jackie Lee at Old Crow Smokehouse

Country Artist Jackie Lee at Old Crow Smokehouse

Jackie Lee was very charming and handsome with a very pleasant, strong and pure voice. I wish I heard more of him but traffic and the parking game didn’t allow it.

Big & Rich took the stage with joy and ease. Their energy and presence was so balanced. They were confident ( I mean, they’re Big & Rich) but not over confident. It was a party and everyone was welcomed and appreciated. They announced they’ve rented apartments in Chicago for the next 6 months so we’re going to be seeing a lot of them. If you insist…

Big N Rich at Old Crow Smokehouse.

Big & Rich at Old Crow Smokehouse.

They opened with “Comin’ to Your City.” Half way through they brought active duty members and veterans onstage to salute the troops and celebrate freedom, one of the greatest gifts we have. The new material and recent favorites like “Runaway with You” and “Look at You” were fun to hear live. The duos harmony is pure and unable to be copied. That purity draws people in and gifts them a moment to be vulnerable with hope, nostalgia, or sassiness.

After peppering with new and old favorites, they closed with “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” which was mashed with Voodoo Child before the bridge. They divided the crowd– one half was Save a Horse the other Ride a Cowboy. I really commend the guys next to me that paused for a second when they heard they’d be screaming Ride a Cowboy. They swallowed and said okay. Because that’s what good artists do: give us permission we have trouble granting and allow us to just have fun.

As the last song started I ushered the other girl, the big Big & Rich fan, in front of me to second row. She was really surprised.

“Thank you,” she said. She was eventually bopped to front row. I’d want to be up close to my favorite group.

After the show Big Kenny stayed out to shake and slap hands with the people who crashed the stage. I never do that so I said, “Why not?”