Blackjack Billy’s Noll Billings (vocals)

Boys make a sled run to Vernon

The Morning Star talks rednecks, booze cruises and Matthew McConaughey with Blackjack Billy’s Rob Blackledge.

It’ll be one of the biggest tailgate parties, sans the actual tailgate, to hit Vernon when the Bands on the Run tour finally rolls into Kal Tire Place Dec. 13.

Joining Canadian big “rigs” Doc Walker and The Road Hammers is U.S. act Blackjack Billy, who are gearing up for their first, full-length Canadian tour.

The Nashville-based band will not only be bringing a full album’s worth of new music, but will also have their brand new single, Run, in tow.

The Morning Star recently spoke with Blackjack Billy guitarist/vocalist Rob Blackledge, who joins his bandmates Noll Billings (vocals), Jeff Coplan (electric guitar), and Brad Cummings (drums) for some ice fishing, sledding and decent beer as they make their way across this frosty nation of ours.

MS: You’re starting out your tour with The Road Hammers and Doc Walker in Halifax. Have you met the boys yet? I know they’re down in Nashville a fair bit.

RB: That’s the fun thing about being in bands. Jeff (Coplan) knows all those guys. He is from Montreal, moved to New York, and is back with open arms to Canada, and he hopes for a warm embrace. I’ve met a couple of the guys from Doc Walker, but for the most part it will be a new mix for us. It’s another part of the fun, to create new memories.

MS: Canadians are only rednecks for two months out of the year in the summer… Whereas, you get a tan on the back of your neck all year round. That’s the PC way of saying redneck, and as your band is billed as redneck rock, do you feel OK with us using that term?

RB: I think if everyone was honest we’d get beyond being PC. It’s just a term and we’re taking it back like (Redneck Woman singer) Gretchen Wilson did.

MS: You’re just about to head up here on tour. What kind of Canadian-style shenanigans do you plan to get up to?

RB: I’ve never been snowmobiling or ice fishing, so I hope to do that. Seriously, I love getting to meet folks all over Canada. I’ve had a few trips to Canada before. I am from Mississippi originally and I saw snow for the first time in third grade. It’s cliché, but climate plays a large role in my life. There’s nothing to do when it’s cold here. It’s just wet and miserable. If I lived on the side of a mountain at least I could plan on skiing.…

I for one love coming up there because it feels like a vacation. I enjoy the scenery. You can eat more. You get to see a part of the country you wouldn’t get to see otherwise. Canada is a really fun place to entertain yourself in.

MS: And Canadian girls seem to love those southern boys…

RB: It must be the accent: Alright, alright, alright (said in his best Matthew McConaughey drawl):

MS: Have you seen Interstellar yet?

RB: I’ve always been a Matthew McConaughey fan. I just watched the HBO series True Detective and Mud is one of my favourite movies… I haven’t seen Interstellar yet. Maybe I will when on the Canadian tour and it gets too cold outside.

MS: Your new album Rebel Child, produced by your bandmate Jeff Coplan, was released up here last month. How has it been received so far?

RB: I keep my head out of the what people think about the record. I try not to care. I have been hearing some whispering, and have noticed requests for some of our songs on social media, so that means people are listening to our brand, new record.

They’ve been requesting Riley Creek and Sugar Cane. Those songs are not new for us but for everyone else they are. It refuels your fire for those songs you may have been playing for while.

The hard part now is picking a set list. As a month or two ago, we had released six or seven songs. We’ve just released another 10, so now we have to decide what eight songs we’re going to play. We hope to use social media to ask what people want to hear…

MS: I have to talk about your first single Booze Cruise. I once went on a booze cruise on Lake Ontario in Toronto. Have you been on one?

RB: We’ve been fortunate to play a few. If you’re an experienced booze cruiser, time is your friend. Pacing yourself is important. Stick to beer. Just keep swimming, and life jackets are required. They’re fun to play unless it’s rocky, then it’s kind of hard to play music, when the bass and the drummer’s cymbals are moving.

Bands on the Run arrives at Kal Tire Pace Saturday, Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the licensed all-ages show are $42.50 general admission available in advance at the Ticket Seller box office, 250-549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca.

 

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