Fair is perfect setting for Bucky Covington, Diamond Rio

Country acts Bucky Covington and Diamond Rio should be right at home when they appear this weekend a

Bucky Covington — born William Joel Covington III — has enough back-story for at least two country singers. In fact, he almost IS two country singers: His identical twin Rocky (born Robert David Covington) is also a country singer — and sometimes plays drums in Bucky’s band. Bucky could probably entertain the crowd at the Columbia County Fair in Chatham on Friday just by telling stories of his life.

For example, when he and Rocky were 20, they were involved in a minor car accident and switched identities, confusing the authorities so that they arrested both twins. The other driver couldn’t identify which was the driver, so they both walked.

They both auditioned for “American Idol” at 27, with Bucky advancing all the way to the final eight. And he became the first Idol contestant from the fifth season to play a non-Idol-related tour. A year after his Idol season, Bucky released his self-titled debut album, topping the country album charts right out of the box, hitting No. 4 on the Billboard 200 and spawning three hit singles.

Between the debut and his current release, “Good Guys,” “I’m Alright” was held up by record label problems, becoming one of three albums Covington released in less than a year: “Live from Rockingham” in late 2009 and “I’m Alright” and “Reality Country” hitting the following spring.

Bucky Covington plays on Friday at the Columbia County Fair (Rt. 66, Chatham) at 8 p.m. at the Grandstand.

On Sunday, Diamond Rio takes over the Grandstand, playing at 3 and 8 p.m. Drummer Brian Prout is from Troy, so this should feel like home to him. In fact, it should feel like home to all these guys, including Covington, because so many country musicians came up playing country fairs; those who didn’t apprentice by playing Houston bars, Colorado ski resorts, Montana rodeos or narrow lower-Broadway tourist joints in Nashville, that is.

Prout has been with Diamond Rio since the band formed in 1984 in Nashville, and so have all five other guys: singer-guitarist Marty Roe, multi-instrumentalists Gene Johnson, Jimmy Olander and Dan Truman, and bassist Dana Williams. Diamond Rio has released seven studio albums of original songs, a Christmas album and two compilations, and they’ve scored big on award shows: four Country Music Association Group of the Year awards, two Academy of Country Music top Vocal Group awards and 13 Grammy nominations.

Unlike most country acts — and this may be even more unusual than their stability — Diamond Rio records their albums without help from studio players, so they have all the performing chops they need for hot shows onstage.

Admission to Bucky Covington on Friday and Diamond Rio on Sunday is included in admission to the fair: $10 on Friday, $12 on Sunday, seniors $5, children 18 and under free. Visit www.columbiafair.com.

More people who died

So, did I get a little morbid for a while there – mourning departed musicians?

It gets worse, or better.

My friend Dan in Salem, Mass. — one of the Mountain Music Club guys — met up a few weeks ago with Phil Freeborn on MacMahan Island off the coast of Maine, where both were vacationing with their families. Phil had run a Berlin recording studio, so they naturally talked a lot about music. Soon, Phil disappeared and returned with a slim black volume, “The Beat Goes On: Calendarium of Deceased Musicians.”

A sort of daybook or journal, it lists on each date-page the musicians who died that day. Today, for example, marks the death of Sterling Morrison, guitarist of the Velvet Underground. This entry notes the years of his tenure (1965-71 and 1992-93) in that groundbreaking band; it’s been said that only about a thousand people ever saw them play live, but they all started bands. And it notes that he completed his Ph.D. dissertation in English literature before dying of lymphoma. He was also selected as “Death of the Week,” rating a full-page bio.

Also mourned today: Swedish DJ, re-mixer and Euro-dance guru Denniz PoP (Ace of Bass, Backstreet Boys, N’Sync and many more).

Tomorrow, it’s Jerry Reed (wish I could tell you the story one of his band guys told my brother Jim about Jerry, but this is a family newspaper), Carl Wayne (singer with the Move, predecessor of the Electric Light Orchestra), and Lionel Hampton (you know).

Dan knew I’d love the book, so Phil — who’s one of the contributors — brought out another that Dan mailed to me. I like the book’s international focus and the appendices, including whack auctions of Elvis Presley memorabilia and a list of the “11 Often Lethal Things That Failed to Kill Johnny Cash,” including a friendship with Jerry Lee Lewis, a forest fire his own negligence had caused, Christianity, a poisonous spider, a deal with Mercury Records and several entries relating to amphetamines.

Published by Editions Observator, this is the appointment book or journal for me.

Reach Gazette columnist Michael Hochanadel at [email protected]

Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts

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