American country music band Blackjack Billy.
American country music band Blackjack Billy. Contributed

Blackjack Billy back for second round of Aussie festival fun

ONE hit song can take a band from backstreet bars to major music festivals, as Blackjack Billy can attest.

The Nashville band rose to fame last year thanks to the viral success of their debut single, "redneck anthem" Booze Cruise.

The cheeky song, which was inspired by the American Spring Break party destination of Panama City Beach in Florida, was the top-selling song on iTunes by a band without a major record deal in the first half of 2013.

Branding their music "redneck rock", lead singer Noll Billings explained how the term redneck, akin to our bogan, has evolved over the years.

"I'd say 15 or 20 years ago it referred to a farmhand or somebody who works in the fields, but nowadays in the new way of living it's more used for somebody who has a little bit of country in them," he said.

"Whether it's the way you like to party or the way you dress, if you're coming out to CMC Rocks then you've probably got a bit of redneck in you."

The four-piece made its Australian debut at the CMC Rocks the Hunter country music festival in March and will return to our shores for the second time this year for this weekend's CMC Rocks North Queensland festival.

"You guys probably know more about us than even a lot of the places here in the States," Billings said.

"We only recently signed a record deal before we came over (in March). We've been together for two years touring, playing festivals and bars and whatnot. In terms of the music scene here in Nashville, we're extremely new."

Billings and bandmates Rob Blackledge and Jeff Coplan were all pursuing solo careers when they met in Nashville.

"When you come to Nashville you usually come alone, just trying to figure it out," Billings said.

"I played bars by myself with an acoustic guitar. When we all met we just thought this is a really good mesh. We all get along really well."

The Missouri native says he enjoys playing in a band better than performing as a solo artist.

"You've always got your brothers who got your back," he said.

"It allows you to do the stuff you're best at and let the boys take up the rest of the slack."

Now that the band is signed to the Bigger Picture Music Group, a debut album is in the works.

"We've been in the studio and we have plenty of material recorded. The hard thing for us is just picking which songs go on the album," Billings said.

"I think it will surprise some people who have only heard Booze Cruise or Get Some (second single), but I think it will be a pleasant surprise."

CMC Rocks North Queensland plays the Townsville Entertainment and Convention Centre on Saturday.



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