September 19, 2005

Bon Jovi rocks to a country beat

A decade or so ago, Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora said, it would have been unlikely to see the Jersey-bred rock band performing on the same stage with a country group.

"I don't know if it would have been acceptable," he said. "Now you can put your music on commercials. Led Zeppelin sells Cadillacs. The world is changing. Before it wasn't cool. Now it is."

So cool, in fact, that this week Bon Jovi appears on Country Music Television's Crossroads series sharing the stage with relative newcomers Sugarland. (The next broadcast is at 10 tonight.)

The performance was taped last month at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom.

On the outside, pairing anthem rockers Bon Jovi with the country songs of Sugarland might seem like a stretch, but according to Sambora, it's not all that odd.

"I think what it all comes down to, first and foremost, is songwriting," said Sambora. "Nashville has been famous for writing great songs."

And, pairing disparate acts like Bon Jovi and Sugarland on a TV show has been a hallmark of Crossroads.

In the past, producers have teamed Heart with Wynonna, Elton John with Ryan Adams, John Mayer with Brad Paisley, and the Dixie Chicks with James Taylor. The show usually takes about two days to record. The first part is the meeting of the artists, who then get together to rehearse each other's songs. Clips of those meetings are melded with the performances for the series.

"Crossroads is about bringing together artists for a love of music," said Chris Parr, CMT vice president of music and talent. "I've always thought Bon Jovi would absolutely connect with the country music audience. Demographically, our fans, plenty of them, are in their 30s and grew up listening to Bon Jovi songs."

Count Sugarland singer Jennifer Nettles among them.

"Their music, without a doubt, is part of the soundtrack of my youth," said Nettles, 30, who recorded a duet with singer Jon Bon Jovi for the rock band's latest CD, Have a Nice Day. "It was thrilling in a giggly way," Nettles said of the Crossroads experience. "Suddenly you're transported to 15 years old, and oh my god, you're thinking `don't act stupid.' Honestly, you want to act as professionals. At the same time, there is reverence and awe, and excitement, about meeting someone who is that legendary."

New York Daily News
Posted September 18 2005

Posted by riesambo at September 19, 2005 07:30 AM