No country for old men 

They've capitalized on 'Nashville-oriented' sound, but Bon Jovi resists labels

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After Bon Jovi's latest CD, Lost Highway, came out, many fans began referring to it as the group's country record.

Guitarist Richie Sambora maintains that's a misnomer.

"It's not particularly a country album," says Sambora on a conference call with reporters. "It's more of a Nashville-oriented kind of record."

Mmm hmmm ...

Descriptions aside, Bon Jovi has clearly courted fans of country music, which as a genre has embraced more of a rock 'n roll influence in recent years.

First came the 2005 CD, Have a Nice Day, that featured a country version of the song "Who Says You Can't Go Home," recorded with Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland. The song made Bon Jovi the first rock act to top the country charts when it spent two weeks at No. 1. Now Lost Highway represents a further foray into the world of country music.

For the project, Sambora and Jon Bon Jovi traveled to Nashville and wrote with Gordie Sampson, Hillary Lindsey and Brett James. During recording, the group also collaborated with Big & Rich on the song "We Got It Going On" and LeAnn Rimes on "Till We Ain't Strangers Anymore."

Several songs, such as "We Got It Going On," the stomping rocker "Summertime" and the ballad "(You Want To) Make A Memory" fit well within Bon Jovi's signature brand of tuneful, straight-ahead rock. Still, there's enough of a country influence in many of the songs, including "Till We Ain't Strangers Anymore," "Whole Lot of Leavin'" and "Everybody's Broken" to have created plenty of speculation that Bon Jovi will continue to inject even more country into future albums.

But in this teleconference interview, which in addition to Sambora includes keyboardist David Bryan and drummer Tico Torres, the band members suggest the opposite.

"We kind of did it for fun and as an experiment," Torres says. "And everybody seemed to like it, as well as ourselves. So it was something that happened at that time. I don't think it's a genre that we're going to follow."

Bon Jovi's live show figures to touch not only on these two country-inflected albums, but a mandatory host of hits. After all, "Livin' On A Prayer," "Bad Medicine" and "Blaze of Glory" first propelled the group, which formed in 1983 in Sayreville, N.J., into superstardom, and have helped keep them one of rock's most enduringly popular bands.

"We have a brand new [stage] set," says Bryan, noting the band's show will clock in at about 2 1/2 hours. "It's going to involve a lot of media and a lot of visuals. So that's the surprise. We can't tell you too much, but there's pretty amazing screens and the stage is just awesome. It's probably the best stage we've ever had."

Bon Jovi with Daughtry
Monday, March 31, 7:30 p.m.
Pepsi Center, 1000 Chopper Circle, Denver
Tickets: $15.50-$129.50, all ages; visit ticketmaster.com.


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