By Christine JuneFebruary 25, 2009
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany -- With a "K-Town are we ready'" country music singer and former "American Idol" finalist Bucky Covington went right into an "American Friday Night" at the Kazabra Club on Vogelweh in Kaiserslautern.
"American Friday Night" is the first song from Covington's self-titled debut album, and that's exactly what it was as he brought "home" to more than 100 fans Feb. 20, as part of his first United Service Organizations tour.
"Pretty much, USO sums up to me - bringing a piece of home to the troops all over the world, and I've been looking forward to doing a USO tour for a very long time," said Covington, who placed eighth on the fifth season of the Fox Network's talent competition series "American Idol."
For 75 minutes, Covington performed songs from his 2007 debut album, including the three singles that hit the top 10 on the Hot Country Songs chart.
"We will definitely play all of those (top 10 singles) and then a couple of more off of the first album," said Covington, a native of Rockingham, N.C. - the heart of NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Racing) country.
One of those top 10 songs - "A Different World" is a fan favorite of Air Force Master Sgt. David and Amanda Whitt, from Ramstein Air Base, who arrived more than an hour early for the concert.
"(A Different World) reminds you of your childhood," said Amanda Whitt, who admits to being an "American Idol" buff and a big fan of Covington. She made sure to bring her camera in case she was able to take a picture with him.
Explaining further, David Whitt said the song "is about growing up in the olden days when we didn't have the stuff they have now. Like, children weren't sitting around playing video games; they were outside playing with their friends in the park. That's mainly what it's about."
Fans like the Whitts got an extra treat as Covington and his band, which includes his twin brother Rocky, played a few songs from his not-yet released sophomore album.
"I'm in the middle of putting together a second album right now in the studio," said Covington, who added that he took a little break from it to do this tour.
Laced in between songs from his first and second albums were several covers.
"I like to go as far into left field as possible with my cover songs," said Covington, who was singing country and southern rock every weekend while working in the family's body shop during the week for about 10 years before trying out for "American Idol."
He wasn't kidding. The cover songs ran from artists like Pink Floyd to Elvis Presley. He also performed a duet with Rocky on Willie Nelson's "Seven Spanish Angels."
A real treat for fans was when his down-home charisma - that endeared fans when he was on the hit show - came shining out in the midst of the music.
Like when he asked the crowd to, "Raise your hands and make some noise if you've seen or heard about 'American Idol.'"
Every hand was up, and the noise was deafening until Covington broke in with "Well, I have a secret ..."
Someone yelled out, "Simon (Cowell - an American Idol judge) didn't like you."
"That's no secret," said Covington, laughing before continuing, "No, I was going to tell you that I've seen the show, too ... especially, one season." He waited a moment, winked at the audience and said, "That was a really good season," referring to the season when he was one of the top 12. The crowd agreed with another deafening cheer.
Covington also said to the crowd, several times and in different ways, "Thank you for what you do every day of your life. Your country is proud of you."
After the show, Amanda Whitt, as well as many other fans, got her chance to have her photo taken with Covington during a meet and greet, which lasted almost as long as the concert.
Here, Covington not only had his picture taken with fans, but he also autographed a few copies of his debut album, a belt buckle, a guitar, a homemade sign, a jacket, a couple of shirts, and more than 50 USO-provided photographs. He even signed a lucky fan's back.
Before the show, Covington visited the USO Warrior Center and the Warrior Transition Unit on Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. "It was awesome," he said of the visit.
Kaiserslautern was the third stop for Covington on his weeklong USO/Armed Forces Entertainment tour, which was hosted here by the U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern's Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation directorate. Previously, he performed shows at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, and Shinnen, The Netherlands, and after Kaiserslautern, he was in Schweinfurt Saturday and Stuttgart Monday.
Covington said before he even hit Kaiserslautern, he had already signed about 500 autographs.
"The USO brings the tours out to give military members and their families a little touch of home - to let them know we are thinking about them; we appreciate their sacrifices and what they are doing for us," said Dana DePaul, USO entertainment tour producer. "So, any way that we can bring them a little touch of home, we try to do that every chance we get."
For a list of USO tours visit www.uso.org/whatwedo/entertainment.
(Editor's Note: Christine June writes for the USAG Baden-Wuerttemberg newspaper, the Herald Post.)