Dimmed lights suffused with blue and red set the mood as approximately 120 Whitworth students listened to country music star, Bucky Covington play in the Multipurpose Room in the Hixson Union Building last Friday night. Students turned out to listen to the first country music artist Whitworth has hosted in the last few years. Surveys were emailed and votes tallied, and the country genre came out on top. Covington received twice as many votes as the other country artists on the survey, ASWU activities coordinator Kevin Gleim said.
Covington suggested students bring their dancing shoes in preparation for a high-energy show.
“If you get a few people who start moving around and dancing then soon more and more people are dancing,” Covington said. “I just try to be that first person up on stage foolin’ around and dancing.”
Students began to dance after the first few songs loosened up the audience. It started with a few couples swing dancing, and then Covington pulled out his “sexy song” for the couples.
Covington threw guitar picks into the crowd and invited one of the women up to sing on stage, gave a faux proposal during his well-known song “I’ll Walk” and danced around while posing for cellphone pictures on stage during his performance.
Audience members especially enjoyed his ending song, “Keep Your Hands to Yourself.” They thought that his music, which they already enjoyed, was fantastic in-person, freshman Sam Haney said.
Students had favorable opinions of multiple aspects of the show including the size of the concert.
“I feel like smaller venues like this are usually much more intimate, and it’s a better show,” junior Emily Scott said.
Covington met some of his fans at a meet-and-greet a half an hour before the show. Amiable and friendly with all the fans, he offered to take pictures and sign autographs for everyone who attended.
Covington’s music stems from his life experiences and relationships.
“Inspiration is all around you,” Covington said. “If I’m writing about love, it’s a girl. If I’m writing about anger, it’s my ex-girl. If I’m writing about aggravation, it’s my brother. Inspiration kind of moves around.”
His biggest influences in the music industry include Keith Whitley, George Strait, Randy Travis, Toby Keith and Kenny Chesney, Covington said.
Covington loves live entertainment and getting to interact with the crowd at a concert, even if the only difficult part is getting to the location.
“Gettin’ there is the hardest part,” Covington said. “I got up at 3 this morning to get here on time. There’s nothing hard about the concert itself. I love playing shows. The best part is the end of a show when everything went great, the feeling of a job well done.”
Covington’s music career took off during his time on the fifth season of American Idol.
“My first few years here, we never had a country singer,” Scott said. “It’s exciting to have one come now. I think it’s also cool to see someone from American Idol on campus.”
American Idol gave Covington his start in the industry.
After singing in bars and nightclubs for almost 10 years, he caught his big break almost overnight, and everything changed, Covington said.
“While I was on American Idol, I was crossing the street in L.A. one day, and I almost got run over,” Covington said. “The next day, I’m crossing the street, and cars stop and honk and start screaming my name. I think it really put a face with a name with a sound. It gave me an image that people recognized.”
Covington knew country music was his passion for years.
“At first, I loved being on stage,” Covington said. “I was working, and I’ve done things like racing and water skiing, but at some point, it wasn’t an option anymore. The music trumped all those other adventurous things I’d done.”
Bringing a musician to campus like Covington requires work on the activities coordinator’s part.
“This has kind of been a year-long thing that I’ve been working on,” Gleim said. “When I first started this job, I wanted to bring the music that the students want.”
The process of bringing an artist to campus can be a tricky one. Gleim began coordinating the concert logistics two to three months ago by following a series of steps.
Scoping out the artists in a music genre, contacting people for a price range and deciding to devote a certain percentage of his budget to an artist are all parts of the process Gleim goes through to determine who will play, Gleim said.
Ultimately, it comes down to who the students want to see. ASWU pays attention to the students’ interest, and that’s how they make decisions, in order to feel like they are spending students’ money how it should be spent, Gleim said.
Alyssa Brooks Assistant Arts & Culture Editor
Contact Alyssa Brooks at email@example.com