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Writing and Recording New Album
ABOUT BLACKJACK BILLY
Blackjack Billy is bonded together by music — specifically, by the no-holds-barred, good-time, party-down rockin’ country that is endearing them to fans internationally. The group first impacted in 2013, when they independently released their first single, “The Booze Cruise,” to digital media. With minimal promotion, the summertime anthem nonetheless won frequent rotation by SiriusXM’s “The Highway,” achieved Platinum certification in Canada, charted #1 in Australia, and became the hottest-selling iTunes song in America by any act without a label deal that year.
Fast-forward to 2017, and the band released a fun, upbeat new single titled “How to Get the Girl” featuring Canadian country act, Madeline Merlo. The single showcases the powerful vocals of both BJB lead vocalist Noll Billings and Merlo, while playfully breaking down the right way to ‘read the signs’ and win over a girl in up-tempo, high-energy Blackjack Billy style.
This Nashville-based group consists of Noll Billings (vocals), Ian Munsick (vocals, bass guitar), Jeff Coplan (electric guitar), and Brad Cummings (drums), and they came together serendipitously when one of the founding members, Rob Blackledge, decided to leave the band. What seemed at first like a problem turned quickly into an opportunity for both Blackjack Billy and young bass phenomenon Ian Munsick, whom Noll ‘stole’ after watching him perform with Chris Cavanaugh on a cruise.
Raised in Kennett, Missouri, (also home to Sheryl Crow, Trent Tomlinson and David Nail), Noll hightailed to Hawaii after high school and then to the Caribbean before hanging up his surfboard and settling in St. Louis. He built a local following through local club gigs and eventually left for Nashville to score a publishing deal with EMI and pursue bigger dreams. Jeff, meanwhile, began his journey in Montreal Canada, and then headed to New York City to learn the art of studio engineering, production and song writing. There he started making writing trips to Nashville and fell in love with country songwriting, which led to he and Robert Ellis Orrall putting together the group Love and Theft in hopes of creating a modern-day variation on the Eagles. Jeff then moved to Nashville, produced their first album, and wrote some of their material, including the No. 1 hit “Angel Eyes.”
Jeff met Noll through their mutual publisher, EMI, and the impact was immediate. “I had written with a lot of people over the years, and the first time I sat down to write with Noll we completely connected. I basically just wanted to write everything with him after that.” With that, Blackjack Billy was born. They bought a converted airport shuttle bus, booked some shows and hit the road.
Signed now to Reviver Records in Nashville, they are hard at work recording tracks for their label debut. Canadian fans can catch Blackjack Billy on the festival circuit this summer, at Bathurst Hospitality Days (NB), Boots & Hearts (ON), and Bear Claw Casino (Carlyle SK).
“We are you,” Noll explains. “We’re big-time country fans. We’re big-time rock and roll fans. We love music. We love mingling with and being part of the crowd. Usually when we’re done playing, we go find the coolest group of fans and go party with them. We’ll steal a golf cart and be out there in the crowd.”
We bought a converted airport shuttle bus, booked some shows and hit the road,” Jeff says. “We needed a drummer, met Brad (Cummings) literally three days before our first run down to Key West. He was literally learning the songs on the long drive down.’ When Ian came aboard, following his move to Nashville from small-town Dayton, Wyoming, to Nashville via a spell as a ski instructor in Switzerland, Blackjack Billy has begun moving ahead with a new confidence and unity.
Signed now to Reviver Records, they are hard at work recording tracks for their label debut. They’re also revisiting the song that broke them in the digital world, this time with the aim of taking it for the first time to American country radio. “‘The Booze Cruise’ is brand new to millions of people who never heard it,” Jeff says. “We’ve sold 200,000-something downloads of the song in the U.S. independently. But once it hits terrestrial radio, we hope to make a lot of new fans.” Until then, word of mouth and incendiary performances alone are building Blackjack Billy’s fan base. “We are you,” Noll explains. “We’re big-time country fans. “We’re big-time rock and roll fans. We love music. We love mingling with and being part of the crowd. Usually when we’re done playing, we go find the coolest group of fans and go party with them. We’ll steal a golf cart and be out there in the crowd. We stole Storme Warren’s cart a couple of times.” He turns to Jeff. “I’ve heard you say that we’re going to out-fun everyone. We’re going to have more energy than the crowd every night. If they step it up a notch, we’re going to step it up two.” How’s that sit with the new guy? Ian sums it up succinctly: “I’m just happy to be here, man!”