Home Local News THE BUCK STOPS HERE: Covington swings by Rockingham ahead of SpringFest concert

THE BUCK STOPS HERE: Covington swings by Rockingham ahead of SpringFest concert

Bucky Covington sits down for a conversation at Speckled Paw Rock on Feb. 8. Photos by William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM — A month before he’s set to headline at the revival of SpringFest, former American Idol contestant and performer Bucky Covington stopped in town Wednesday for a quick media tour.

Covington — on his way to Laurinburg to work on a song with bandmate Donald “Ducky” Medlock — and his wife, Hannah, sat down with Mayor John Hutchinson, County Commissioner Robin Roberts, Rockingham Events Coordinator Kim Williams and Tourism Director Meghann Lambeth at Speckled Paw Rock.

The conversation ranged from tales of his grandfather and namesake, William “Buck” Covington, to his start in the local music scene, his time on “American Idol” and what he’s done in the years since — including hanging out with actor Billy Bob Thornton.

Covington started learning how to play guitar at the age of 19 and performed with several rock and country bands in his early 20s.

“Guitar was the first thing I started learning, but the last thing I played on stage,” he said.

Covington started performing on drums, then switched to bass and eventually to vocals and guitar.

But he says knowing the different instruments has come in handy as a music producer for his company Barefootin Records.

It also spruces up a stage show.

During a 2019 concert in South Carolina, Covington sat behind the drums so his twin brother, Rocky, could step up to the mic — then took over on bass so Medlock could take centerstage.

Bucky Covington plays bass, with his twin brother Rocky on drums, during a show in South Carolina in 2019.

He compared the Rockingham music scene at the time to the 1989 movie “Road House.”

“The nightlife was incredible …it was electric,” he said.

He credits his experience in the band Southern Thunder in helping prepare for American Idol.

“They did everything … it pushed you a little bit, doing things out of your comfort zone,” Covington said.

The singer/songwriter, who calls both Rockingham and Laurinburg home, was on season five of “American Idol,” along with two fellow North Carolinans: country singer Kelly Pickler, from nearby Albemarle; and rock vocalist Chris Daughtry from Roanoke Rapids.

From left: Rockingham Mayor John Hutchinson; Rockingham Events Coordinator Kim Williams; Bucky Covington; Hannah Covington; Richmond County Commissioner Robin Roberts.

“Your biggest goal,” he said about “American Idol,” is to “get on the show and kinda create a bit of an image, then leave the show and hope to sell records, or do movies or whatever.”
During the week the cast performed covers of Stevie Wonder songs, Covington said he had wanted to perform the funky “Superstition,” but was being pushed to sing “Lately.”

“Great song … (but) I wasn’t a big fan of it,” he recalled.

As it turned out, another cast member (whom he didn’t name, but was Melissa McGhee) was going to do his pick — but wanted to sing “Lately.”

They both wound up singing the songs they wanted — and McGhee was eliminated.

“I just know the town was blown away,” Hutchinson told him, “because it doesn’t seem to be in the wheelhouse he’s (Covington) established.”

Rocky (left) and Bucky Covington share a mic with Ducky Medlock during a show in South Carolina in 2019.

Covington made it to the Top 8, but was eliminated after singing Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls,” which ironically, he said, has become one of his most requested covers.

“You came across as so genuine, and so humble on that show,” Hutchinson added. “It was easy to like you as a contestant and that’s not always the case.

“At some point we all kind of realized, here in town, this guy’s going to get a contract because he’s likable … he’s friendly, he comes across really well — and not everybody does that.”

Even if he hadn’t gotten a deal after the show, Covington said he would have kept moving forward with music.

The best and worst things about having his own record label, he joked, are the same: you don’t have anyone telling you what to do.

In 2017, Covington was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame.

Covington recently shot two music videos — one featuring his wife and another with his daughter, Kennedy — for upcoming songs. One was shot at the farm and the other was shot on the lake.

He said Hannah initially rejected the idea of being the love interest for the video.

“So I said, ‘Do you know anybody else?’” he laughed.

Music videos aren’t the only screentime Covington has seen since leaving “American Idol.”

He had a role as an assistant coach in the 2021 film “Under the Stadium Lights” (originally titled “Brother’s Keeper), a drama based on the ‘09 Abilene (Texas) High School football team starring Milo Gibson (son of Mel Gibson) and Laurence Fishburne.

Covington also recorded and shot a video for the song “Driving In the Dark,” for the film.

Click here to read an interview with Covington about the movie.


As for his next album, Covington said two songs (from the aforementioned videos) are “ready to go” and at least three more on the way, and he expects the songs to be released within the next few months.

In addition to entertainment, Bucky and Rocky Covington also have their own business — Covington’s Collision Center — with two locations northeast of Nashville.

Following the informal sit-down, Covington gave interviews with local radio stations WAYN and WLWL.


Another Richmond County native, Erik Hawks, will be opening for Covington at SpringFest, scheduled for April 22 at Harrington Square in Downtown Rockingham.

Hawks, who will play with a full band, was recently nominated for Male Performer of the Year in the 8th annual Carolina Country Music Awards and performed at the event at the House of Blues in Myrtle Beach.

Singer/songwriter Erik Hawks performs at Hudson Brothers Deli on Jan. 13. Photo by William R. Toler – Richmond Observer

Hawks said he is “absolutely stoked” about being added to the bill.

“We’re so happy to be able to play a hometown show and, on top of that, be sharing the stage with Bucky,” Hawks told the RO on Wednesday. “It’s going to be awesome!”

Click here to read more about Erik Hawks.

SpringFest — organized by the city, the Richmond County Chamber of Commerce and the Richmond County Tourism Development Authority — is returning to Rockingham for the first time since 2017.

The event will also feature a barbecue cook-off and vendors.

The barbecue contest, sponsored by Smithfield Foods, will award $1,000 to the first-place winner, $500 for second place and $300 for the winner of People’s Choice.

The cost is $200 per team.

Costs for vendors are $100 for merchandise, $150 for food and $50 for nonprofit organizations.

Those interested in being a vendor or having a cook team should contact the Richmond County chamber of Commerce at 910-895-9058 or email info@richmondcountychamber.com.

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Managing Editor William R. Toler is an award-winning writer and photographer with experience in print, television and online media.