Six years ago at Chadwick's Pub & Sports Bar, Billy Lund made his karaoke debut, singing "Watermelon Crawl" by country artist Tracy Byrd.
Afterwards, numerous audience members complimented him on his performance, and he began singing karaoke every weekend.
Who: Billy Lund & Whiskey Weekend
When: 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 31 and June 1
Where: The Rocky-Tonk Grill & Saloon, 333 E. Main St., Medford
Now Lund fronts a country outfit, which he calls Whiskey Weekend, and because he's sentimental and a little bit superstitious, he starts every set with "Watermelon Crawl."
"We had a couple shows where we didn't start with that song, and one of those times, the speakers almost caught on fire, and other weird things happened, so now we always start with that," he says.
The band, featuring lead guitarist Aaron Price, bassist Dina Press, rhythm guitarist Jim Friend and drummer Brandon Glasscock, plays regularly at the Rocky-Tonk Grill & Saloon, 333 E. Main St., Medford, and will be there at 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 31 and June 1. There is no cover charge.
Not long after his singing debut, Lund learned about the Texaco Country Showdown, "the nation's largest and longest-running country music talent search." His wife gave him the necessary nudge, and in 2008, he entered the event, won the local preliminary round and advanced to the state competition. Although he didn't get any closer to the national title and $100,000 purse, he did leave an impression on one of the local judges, drummer Sandy Ficca, founder of the Use Your Gift Foundation.
After the show, Ficca called Lund and encouraged him to start a band.
"I kind of drug my feet a bit and then, finally, put an ad on Craigslist," Lund says. "Aaron (Price) contacted me, and he was my luckiest find as far as bands go. He helped me piece together the rest of the group."
Three drummers, two bass players and two guitar players came and went before Price and Lund had the group they were looking for.
"We wanted to make sure people were committed to the greater good of the band and that they enjoyed what they were doing and didn't feel forced to play country," Lund says.
Whiskey Weekend has about 10 originals to its credit and also plays "edgy," danceable arrangements of songs by other country artists, including Byrd, Rhett Akins, Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean, Hank Williams and Johnny Cash.
All the members collaborate on the band's originals which, somehow, always turn into drinking songs, Lund says. Examples of this include its namesake, "Whiskey Weekend," a song about drinking and inner tubing at the lake, and "Hair of the Dog that Bit You," a song about hangovers.
Ficca is helping the band record and produce an eight-track debut to be released next month. In the meantime, the band is heading to Nashville, where it will open a fan club party for big-name country artists, American Young and Chris Janson.