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Trailer Choir        

Trailer Choir is an American country music duo composed of vocalists.

Lead singer Butter has the greeting, “Holla!” emblazoned in duct tape on his guitar. And literally rounding out the duo is Big Vinny, a 382-pound guy in overalls who not only sings, but dances, belly-first, down to the ground. The phrases, “high energy,” “good time” and “party hard” don’t do this duo justice. If you’re not having fun at a Trailer Choir show, check your pulse to see if you’re still alive.

Hearing Trailer Choir is just as memorable. Hearty, happy and highly catchy songs like “Rockin’ the Beer Gut,” “Rollin’ Through the Sunshine” and “Off the Hillbilly Hook” have made this group instantly popular in the world of country music.

Those audience favorites are all included on Tailgate, the debut CD by Trailer Choir. The collection is characterized by infectious, sing-along anthems and lyrical slices of everyday life. For instance, “Homemade Mexico” contains a built-in vacation. “In My Next 5 Beers” is jaunty, tuneful and fun. The high-speed rocker “Girls Love to Go Dancin’” portrays weekend escapism. “Can’t Drink All Day” is a rousing romper. The breezy, lilting “Wal Mart Flowers” has an anti-materialistic message. “Last Man Standing” is about perseverance. “Shakin’ That Tailgate” is a party-time rocker.

Perhaps because of such catchy tunes, few stars are rising as fast. Discovered in 2007 by superstar Toby Keith, Trailer Choir has been performing on his mammoth national tours for the past three years. He featured the group in his 2008 film Beer for My Horses, so Trailer Choir’s “Off the Hillbilly Hook” video featured Toby and the movie’s co-star Willie Nelson. Toby also co-produced their debut CD. In 2009, Trailer Choir exploded on the airwaves with the merry, rollicking “Rockin’ the Beer Gut,” a song that has sold more than a quarter of a million copies. “Last Man Standing” was used by ESPN and ABC in a national NASCAR promotion. In 2010, the filming of its jaunty “Rollin’ Through the Sunshine” video became a feature story in Country Weekly. Their secret?

“We realized we were kindred spirits, as far as being entertainers,” says Big Vinny, the plus-sized singer-songwriter in the overalls. “I have always naturally been the kind of guy who says, ‘Hey, let’s have fun and smile.’”

“You spend all your time in Nashville waiting for that big break,” says Butter, the man with “Holla!” on his guitar. “Then, all of a sudden, Toby Keith is there one night.”

Born Marc Fortney, Butter grew up in Ashtabula, Ohio, a once booming industrial town that became a great place to call home. He became captivated by music as a teenager.

“At a high-school talent show, I played ‘Small Town’ by John Mellencamp. This crazy energy, this reaction, came up out of that auditorium. And that feeling has never left me.” He moved to Middle Tennessee as a college student in 1993 and was soon playing fraternity parties in The Butter Band, which gave him his nickname.

Big Vinny was raised Vencent VanZant Hickerson in the middle-Tennessee town of Linden. Unlike Butter, he comes from a highly musical family. His late father was once a professional guitarist, and he passed his passion for music along to his children.

Big Vinny learned to play guitar in January 2002, and by that March he was writing his first songs. At the time, he was manager of a Sonic in McEwen, TN.

“I worked there 10 to 12 hours a day, usually 8 AM to 8 PM, then came to Nashville every single night. For about a year, I drove an hour and a half each way, every day. I did whatever it took.”

Big Vinny decided to make the big move to Nashville in 2006. Fatefully, he rented an apartment next door to Butter. The two began swapping songs, and a friendship was born. Big Vinny started doing frat-house shows with Butter’s band. Butter dubbed the loose-knit group Trailer Choir.

Toby Keith turned up at a Trailer Choir gig and signed them to his record label in June 2007. Two days later, they were on tour with him, winning over fans night after night. But the members of Trailer Choir don’t actually use the word “fan.”

“You don’t become a ‘fan,’ you become a friend,” says Big Vinny. “That’s what we always say. We feel like everybody we meet, we’re friends with, always.”

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