Bucky Covington is no ordinary country crooner. He never wears a cowboy hat or a belt buckle, and with his signature long blond locks, he looks more like a rock musician.
But when Covington hits the stage Aug. 29 at this year's Benton Franklin Fair & Rodeo, it'll be the deep, sexy sounds of country you'll hear from the voice that made it to the top 10 on the fifth season of American Idol.
In a recent interview with the Herald, Covington talked about singing in the shower, where his high energy comes from, the Idol experience, being a twin, and how the simpler yet poignant sounds of country turned him away from his rock music roots.
"I used to play in rock bands growing up (in North Carolina), but then I realized I wanted something else from music," he said. "I just prefer the stories country songs tell. And I think people understand the words a lot better too."
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The only singing he did as a kid was singing in the shower when he wasn't working in his dad's auto body shop with his twin brother Rocky.
"I was 18 when I heard the song Angel Eyes (by Jeff Healey)," Covington said. "The minute I heard it I pictured myself on the stage playing guitar and singing, especially when I found out (Healey) was blind and overcame his challenges to become a musician. The song moved me, so I bought a guitar and learned to play."
When the Idol phenomenon began in 2002, Covington saw a chance to take his music to the next level.
His scheduled tryout in New Orleans, however, was canceled when Hurricane Katrina hit in August of 2005.
"I just let it go after that," he said. But not for long.
In October of that year, he heard about another Idol tryout closer to home in Greensboro, N.C. "I had another chance," he said. "I knew this was fate calling."
He made it to Idol's Top 10 during the fifth season in 2006 and the experience was mind-blowing, he said.
"Hollywood was really stressful," Covington said. "I think I probably slept nine hours total in four days."
He released his debut album, A Different World in 2007. The title song off that album reached No. 6 on the charts.
He's been on a rollercoaster tour schedule ever since. His second album, I Want My Life Back, was released earlier this year and made it to the Top 40 on the country charts in May.
Those catching Covington's Tri-City show might think they're seeing double since his identical twin plays the drums.
"Rocky and I have a lot of fun pretending to be each other," Covington said with a laugh. "He usually wears a (cowboy) hat and I don't. So when we decide to go out somewhere I'll wear the hat and he won't. Women have actually pushed me out of the way to get to him thinking he's me. It's hilarious."
MORE MAIN STAGE ENTERTAINMENT
There'll not be a shortage of primo music at this year's Benton Franklin Fair & Rodeo. Here's the other standout acts playing the main stage:
Clint Black, Aug. 25
Black is one of the most prolific singer/songwriters on the country music scene. He's one of a handful of country crooners who dominated country music from 1989-94. He's had eight No. 1 hit singles, and he's as proficient on drums and harmonica as he is on guitar and vocals.
But music isn't Black's only forté. He's also stretched himself into the acting world where his wife Lisa Hartman Black already is well known.
Beach Boys, Aug. 26
The Beach Boys have been a part of the music world since 1961.
Though tragedy has befallen the group several times during the last 40 years, the surviving original members -- Mike Love, Al Jardine, Brian Wilson and Bruce Johnston -- reunited in 2006 for a 40th anniversary tour. But it'll be just Mike Love and Bruce Johnston appearing at the Benton Franklin Fair & Rodeo and performing favorites like Surfin' Safari, California Girls and Good Vibrations.
America, Aug. 27
America is perhaps most famous for its 1972 No. 1 hit single, A Horse with No Name. The vocal and songwriting talents of America frontmen, Dewey Bunnell and Gerry Beckley, also recorded Ventura Highway and their only other No. 1 hit Sister Golden Hair. The group put out its latest album Here & Now in 2007 trying to engage a younger audience by covering songs like Always Love by Nada Surf.
The main entertainment concerts start at 7:30 p.m. each night. The show comes with admission to the fair, though there are reserved seats available for an additional $8. Reserved seats for the Beach Boys show are sold out.
*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; email@example.com