Country-boy-turned-country-artist Bucky Covington will return to his old stomping grounds this week to give two concerts at Richmond Community College.
Covington grew up in Laurinburg from the age of three and graduated from Scotland High School in 1996. In 2006, Covington was one of the top 10 contestants in the fifth season of the reality television show American Idol.
After high school, Covington spent a decade working for his father at Covington’s Body Shop in Hamlet and living the life of a struggling musician.
“I’d been playing around in bands anywhere from Charlotte to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina,” Covington said. “I’d done that for eight or nine years and I kept seeing American Idol, but I never even knew how to find out where tryouts were.”
Without the means to travel to Memphis, Tenn. to audition for the show, Covington resigned himself to obscurity. But a stroke of fate set him on the path to becoming a country music star.
“About two or three months later I was in the body shop going at it and my sister-in-law said you’re not going to believe this, but they’ve rescheduled the Memphis tryouts to Greensboro,” said Covington.
After his season on Idol, Covington returned to Rockingham before releasing his eponymous debut album, in 2007.
“When you’re going to Hollywood you’re living a celebrity lifestyle and when you come back home to Rockingham, you’re back in the body shop - the only difference is, now when I finish painting the car they want me to sign it,” he said.
Covington’s first album debuted at the top spot on Billboard’s country albums chart. He signed with E1 Music, an independent label, last year and released his second studio album, Good Guys, last month.
The album’s title reflects Covington’s position as the spokesperson for Help the Good Guys, an organization that raises funds for injured firefighters through the sale of country music albums and merchandise, as well as concerts and events.
When Covington first moved to Nashville, he found himself agreeing to perform at a slew of charity events.
“It’s easy to get caught up in it - you don’t know who you helped or why you helped them,” he said. “I wanted something I could learn more about and do more for.”
After meeting Help the Good Guys founder Mickey Milam, himself a medically retired firefighter, Covington signed on.
“I went and started meeting some of the people we were helping,” said Covington. “If a firefighter goes into a house or a building to help someone and the building collapses on him, his entire way of life is stripped from him, and he didn’t do anything wrong. He did the right thing. In this country, I don’t think a bad thing should happen if you do the right thing.”
Covington will perform songs from both of his albums as well as a few catchy cover songs in his concerts on Thursday and Friday at Richmond Community College’s Cole Auditorium. Both concerts will begin at 7:30 p.m.
For both shows Covington will be joined by fellow American Idol contestant Kellie Pickler, a native of Albemarle, with whom he recently worked on the music video for his song “Drinking Side of Country.”
“Me and Kellie are good friends and I have performed with her numerous times,” Covington said. “For the video we decided to do a Dukes of Hazzard-style video and I reached out to Kellie Pickler to play Daisy Duke. Kellie is to me one of the most beautiful women in country music and a modern Daisy Duke. Every time I get to hang out with Kellie, it’s a good day.”
Although he’s been warmly received playing events and shooting videos in Rockingham, a Laurinburg performance remains on Covington’s to-do list.
“One thing I would love to come and play is Laurinburg After Five out on the campus of St. Andrews,” he said. “I actually spent a lot of time on campus over there on a bike, back in the days when you actually let your kids go out.”
“Being from Rockingham and Laurinburg like I am, anytime I get to play in North Carolina it feels like we’re at home as soon as I get into North Carolina or South Carolina,” Covington added. “The names will be familiar, even the haircuts will look familiar. There’s no other show like it - you go all over the country to Alaska to Germany to Minnesota, the big difference playing at home is that when you look into the crowd you see familiar faces.”
Tickets for Thursday’s show are $50, with seating for Friday’s concert available at $25. To reserve tickets, call 410-1691.