Bucky Covington on stage at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium; many thanks to the very gracious Hildi for sharing this one!
We'll begin this long concert recap with a short recommendation--whether you're a longtime reader, a curious radio listener who heard Bucky Covington on the radio and hit the search engines looking for more, or someone who got here entirely by accident, you need to see and hear Bucky Covington live this year! The man and his band bring a high-energy party atmosphere that'll have you tappin' your toes, stompin' your feet, and looking for the very lovely lady at the merch table so you can snag a copy of Good Guys and re-live the experience all over again. (Good Guys is his new album, of course, and it's also available at Amazon, iTunes, the HelpTheGoodGuys.com store, Bucky's official site, or at a retail store near you--but getting it at a show is like icing on an already-delicious cake.)
Now for the tl;dr details...
The Agricenter ShowPlace Arena in Memphis is full of genuine country ambiance--it's got all the dirt floors, ramps, rails and general agricultural-show flavor you'd want, and the large crowd looked ready for a Friday night party. The show was dedicated to a great cause, too--IAFF Local 1784 were the sponsors, and the Memphis Fire Fighters Charities benefited. Our mini-crowd (the exceptionally gracious Hildi, sweet Honeygirl and yours truly) was definitely up for some fun! After a quick stop at the merch table to say hi to beautiful Terra Covington, a chilly-but-enjoyable meet-and-greet outdoors by the bus (I thought I'd be warmer once I got south of Ohio--nope!) and a junk-food-booth visit, we were in our seats and ready to rock...
Needless to say, we didn't spend much time in those seats.
Bucky's opening song these days is "Mama Must Be Praying" from Good Guys, and it's a perfect, hard-driving, kickin' way to get the party started. By the time the second verse "whoo-hoos" were sung, someone behind us was singing along--a good sign! The first thing you couldn't help but notice is how exceedingly tight this band is. The lineup has been through quite a few changes since my last full-band show, but Ducky, Kevin, Luc and Rocky are a fantastic-sounding, well-oiled machine. My guess is that by the time Bucky ran out onto the stage, hair, vest and scarf flying, the crowd was already pretty solidly impressed.
Another great Nashville concert shot by Hildi--thanks again for your kindness!
About that crowd--I took a look around and quickly calculated that they'd only stay in their seats for about the first two songs-and-a-half maximum before the beat and Bucky's mega high energy got them making a move to stand and/or dance in front of the stage. (I don't think it took even that long, y'all.) Another thing you couldn't help but notice was that there were a good number of enthusiastic teenagers in the audience, both in Memphis and at the Nashville show. It didn't occur to me until I got back home that many of those teenagers might have been the cute 10-and-under Bucky fans who made us smile during the Idol tour way back in '06, all grown up! It was a joy to see them, cell phones and cameras in hand, moving up closer to the stage.
Bucky was in fine, fine voice, and those fun dance moves--well, they're impossible to describe, so just check 'em out here. Highlights for me were "I Wanna Be That Feeling" (another enjoyable audience sing-along), "A Different World" (pretty early in the set list*; the crowd recognized it before that five-note intro was done), "Suspicious Minds" (as Bucky says, gotta sing some Elvis in Memphis) and a wild version of his current single "Drinking Side of Country", complete with a long and funny monologue/interlude about what may or may not be true to life in those lyrics. Since this was an opening set--John Michael Montgomery was the evening's headliner--it was a little shorter than Bucky's club shows, but by the time he closed with a rousing "It's Good to Be Us", that crowd was packed tight in front of the stage, well-rocked and very happy!
Nashville's Municipal Auditorium is a much larger venue, and a much larger audience was there for Bucky and John Michael Montgomery's performance sponsored by the Nashville Firefighters IAFF Local 140 and spotlighting Help The Good Guys. There were plenty of features even before the music started; US Little League champs, the Goodlettsville All-Stars, were celebrated, Bucky's IAFF/HTGG-related video segments from CNN's Impact Your World and CBS 43 were shown as the concertgoers took their seats, and Mickey Milam, founder of HTGG, was introduced to the audience to loud cheers just before the performance began.
Bucky Covington and a special guest singer share a hug during "A Different World" at the Nashville Auditorium; many thanks to the generous John Dixon for sending this sweet shot. (Click to view full size.)
And what a performance! If anything, the crowd was even wilder than the night before. Hildi, Honey and I were joined by Hildi's beautiful and witty neighbor D., and I had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Kimberly (aka @MsBuckyfan on Twitter), and her awesome family, all of whom are major, major Bucky Covington fans. Their enthusiasm and happiness was truly infectious--I think everyone in our area of the arena picked up on their joy. "Mama Must Be Praying" wasn't even over before the camera-toting fan migration to the front of the stage began, and it was jam-packed for the rest of Bucky's set. "A Different World" featured an adorable young guest singer--Kimberly's sister! She was a wonderfully good sport, and maybe someday she'll have a band and a fan blog of her own...
Saturday's concert highlight was, without a doubt, Bucky's rendition of "God Bless the USA". Before the song began, he told the audience that "It's Good To Be Us" was their usual closer, but that night, he and the band wanted to dedicate a song to the Good Guys (and Gals) who put their lives on the line for us all. Bucky spoke about his pride in representing Help the Good Guys, then launched into the song amid ear-splitting cheers and applause as the audience stood up and sang with him. After his set was over, an announcement came over the venue speakers--Bucky would be signing autographs at his merch table--and a good sized mob came out to get a handshake and a signature.
So what was my biggest takeaway from the shows I attended, beside two nights full of fun and music with my wonderful friends? My feeling is that Bucky Covington has three huge advantages as he embarks upon this second stage of his career. First, he's got an incredible way of winning over an audience--great, distinctive vocals, an engaging and energetic stage presence, a stellar band and excellent songs, along with that indefinable "something"--call it star quality, charisma, or charm--that keeps current fans coming back for more and creates new fans at every show.
Second, in his association with Help The Good Guys, Bucky has the opportunity to give back--directly--to the towns, cities and communities that pack the houses to see him and his band sing and play.
And last, but in no way least, Bucky's got a core of dedicated, devoted, enthusiastic fans, listeners and supporters who deeply appreciate his talent and want to support his career in every way possible.
Of course, dedicated fans want our favorite singer to have all the advantages there are. We'd love to hear him a lot more often on country radio; we'd love to have his music pop up on TV shows and in movie soundtracks. We'd adore seeing him in arenas more often, opening for a hot country hitmaker now, and headlining in bigger venues after more big hits of his own. We'd be thrilled with much more all-around buzz about his solid second album, Good Guys, which is stocked with several potential country radio hits, just waiting to be picked out and promoted.
But while we're working on that wish list, we can take pleasure in having the most important item on it already--Bucky Covington is good. He's good on stage, good with his fans, good in the studio. Every hot live show, every delighted fan, and every newly-minted listener underscores just how good he is. But don't take my word for it--get on out to a show and see and hear it for yourself!
*I apologize, everybody--I was so enthused about my first live show in years that I neglected to put on my proper "journalist" hat and write down the set lists! Maybe next time...sigh. News post next!