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What happens when you put together three Nashville songwriters, an award-winning producer/killer guitarist and a drummer with a gift for live performance? The result is Blackjack Billy and their signature hybrid of country and rock.
After gaining widespread exposure thanks to 2013’s breakout hit “The Booze Cruise,” these grassroots heroes brought their trademark sound back to the airwaves with “Why God Made Summertime.” Now, they hope to show their fans a softer side with their new single “Night Light,” which proves they’re so much more than a party band. They’ve shown they can rock an audience; “Night Light” shows their versatility and the gift for songwriting that brought them together in the first place.
Rob Blackledge, Noll Billings and Jeff Coplan moved to Nashville as songwriters – “for the love of lyrics and melodies,” as Blackledge puts it – and they were soon pulled towards one another in the town’s tight-knit music community. “Night Light” is a return to those songwriter roots. The session that birthed the track was sparked by Coplan’s desire to write a song for his five-year-old daughter, while Billings wanted a love song for his wife. Blackledge, having just become a father for the first time, inspired a compromise, and the result is a tribute to their families that shows fans a different side of Blackjack Billy, both lyrically and musically.
The guys play close to 130 shows a year across the U.S. and Canada, and they treasure every Nashville homecoming. “I think everyone can relate to this in some way, whether you’re out on the road, serving in the military, or whatever it is that takes you away from the ones you love,” Billings says. “I want this song to speak to my wife and say, ‘As much as we’re gone, I’m always here. I’m always in love with you.’”
The members of Blackjack Billy hail from different parts of the country, and each brings his unique background and influences to the table: Vocalist Billings is from the boot-heel of Missouri, while bassist/vocalist Blackledge is a Mississippi boy. Coplan, a guitarist who also handles production duties, is a Canadian who migrated to New York City. Only drummer Brad Cummings was born and raised in Music City. “One thing I love about being in this band is playing around with our musical diversity,” says Blackledge. “The first time all four of us were in the studio together, it was immediate magic.”
That magic is evident every time Blackjack Billy takes the stage. Often called one of the hardest working bands in the business, the guys of Blackjack Billy are involved in every aspect of creating new music for their fans. From writing the songs to producing their own record, playing their own instruments in the studio, and even driving their own bus to the hundreds of must-see live shows they perform every year, this self-sufficient band of brothers is sticking to the goals that brought them together in the first place. The first step, says Coplan, is simple: “We try to write the best country songs we can.” But equally as important, says Blackledge, is keeping some perspective. “I think in this business, you’re either quitting, or the future looks bright,” he says. “In Nashville, when you’re just having fun playing your music, that’s when the really good stuff happens.”