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Ex-"Idol" Bucky Feels Lucky With Country Success

Of the Oakland Press

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In Las Vegas earlier this week for the Academy of Country Music Awards show, Bucky Covington has no illusions about keeping his Sin City activities private.

"What happens in Las Vegas goes on Myspace," he quips.

Then again, Covington has plenty to crow about.

The former "American Idol" finalist -- he finished eighth in Season 5e -- Covington's self-titled debut hit No. 1 on the Billboard Country charts in April and No. 4 on the Billboard 200, the best start for a male country singer since Billy Ray Cyrus in 1992. And Covington's first single, "A Different World," is a Top 20 country hit.

Not surprisingly, the 29-year-old North Carolina native says that "I love the way things are going. It's a great start.

"The best thing about being part of ('American Idol') is that usually with a new artist you have to put out three Top 10 hits before people put a name with a face and a sound. 'Idol' was able to do that for me in three months. It was a great way to get started."

Covington, who plays at 2:05 p.m. Saturday as part of this year's Downtown Hoedown in Detroit's Hart Plaza, actually got a late start in music. Born William Joel Covington in Rockingham, N.C., he took his nickname from his grandfather and the impetus to do music from his younger (by three minutes) twin brother Rocky, who was playing in rock groups when the two were in high school (and now plays drums in Bucky's band).

"I always listened to music," says Covington, who played trumpet in school, "and when I was about 19 or 20 I heard this Jeff Healey album, the one with 'Angel Eyes' on it. When I heard that album, I had a vision; I saw myself on stage, wearing a pair of sunglasses and playing.

"The next day I went out and a bought a guitar."

The brothers were working at the family auto body repair shop in Hamlet, N.C., when "Idol" auditions were held in the fall of 2005 in Greensboro. Bucky got the call to go to Los Angeles and made it through four rounds of eliminations, performing songs by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Garth Brooks, Buddy Holly, Tim McGraw and others before being voted off after his rendition of Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls."

While the rest of the contestants were slugging it out, however, Covington was getting busy with his post-"Idol" career. He began looking for songs with Sawyer Brown's Mark Miller, who produced "Bucky Covington," and although he took part in last summer's American Idols Live Tour, Covington decided to pursue his interests out of the "Idol" orbit, signing on with a different label and management company.

"They have the first opportunity to pick you up," explains Covington, who stays in touch with fellow contestants Chris Daughtry, Elliott Yamin and fellow country "Idol" Kellie Pickler, who's also moved to Nashville. "We started heading in that direction, then I kinda had a talk with them and let 'em know that I didn't feel like that was where I needed to be.

"I was more interested in a smaller company. I like dealing with them better. I think in my situation now, there's more interest in me than the ('Idol') company would have had."

That's certainly borne out by "Bucky Convington's" showing so far. Right now, Covington says, he's enjoying his time on the road, and he and his label, Lyric Street, are starting to discuss the next single -- which right now is leaning towards "American Friday Night," "It's Good to Be Us" or "The Bible and the Belt." "Carolina Blue," his lone co-writing credit on the album, is unlikely to be considered, he says.

Mostly, however, Covington -- who's in the midst of a divorce -- is simply looking forward to working "Bucky Covington" as hard as he can and making good on the jump-start that "American Idol" gave his career.

"The best thing about the show is it's so big you don't have to win," he says. "I've had people come up to me and say, 'Do you think it's better to win or better how you did it?' I tell 'em I'm not real sure, 'cause I never won.

"But for me, I think everything worked out just fine."

The 25th Annual Downtown Hoedown takes place at 2 p.m. Friday (May 18th) and 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday (May 19th and 20th) at Hart Plaza in downtown Detroit. Headliners include Tracy Lawrence, Darryl Worley, Josh Gracin, the Wreckers, Bucky Convington, Joe Nichols, Little Big town, Emerison Drive and others. Admission is free. A full schedule and other details can be found at www.wycd.com

Web Site: www.wycd.com

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