The Nash Next Challenge is down to its 10 finalists, and in the lead-up to the announcement of the champion on Oct. 25, NCD will be profiling each of the 10 finalists.
Today, we are getting to know finalist Billy Shaw Jr. Band
In July, Cumulus Media and Big Machine Label Group invited aspiring country artists and bands to participate in the Nash Next Challenge, an artist development competition where the winner will receive a recording contract with Big Machine Label Group and have an original song produced by Jay DeMarcus, which will garner national radio airplay on Cumulus Media radio stations across the U.S.
The winner of the Nash Next Challenge will be crowned on Tuesday, Oct. 25, at Mercy Lounge in Nashville. The event, which will also feature a performance from Trent Harmon, is open to the public from 7–10 p.m.
Billy Shaw Jr. Band
Members: Billy Shaw, Laki Skouras, Johnny Pesqueira, Vince Gonzalez
Home City Market: Tucson, Ariz.
How did you get started in music?
Billy: As a child I loved listening to my parents’ music, which included the Beatles, Barbra Streisand, Willie Nelson and Kenny Rogers, to name a few. “The Gambler” was my favorite song back then, and I sang it all the time. In fourth grade, a lady came into our class and played the theme to Star Wars on a violin and I was sold. I went home and told my mom I wanted to play violin, so she made a call to my grandma and she had an old one that had belonged to my grandfather. It didn’t even have a case, so I took it to school in a paper bag for the first week.
Who are your musical influences?
I grew up loving music like Alabama, Willie Nelson and Kenny Rogers, but decided country wasn’t cool anymore in my teen years. Then I heard Garth Brooks in college and fell in love with country music again. I love the Zac Brown Band, Eric Church, Chris Stapleton and Mo Pitney.
What three words describe you?
Geek, outgoing, patient.
What would you say is unique about your sound?
I’ve been told that I don’t sound like anyone out there, and I have a soulful Southern rock country sound.
What three albums would you take to a deserted island?
Garth Brooks’ The Hits, Chris Stapleton’s Traveller and John Pardi’s California Sunrise.
What’s the last song you heard that blew you away?
Miranda Lambert’s “Vice” is pretty dang good.
Who are the King and Queen of country music?
There are several that are certainly qualified, but I would go with Garth Brooks and Reba McEntire.
Where is the craziest place you’ve performed?
The first band I played with opened for Chris Cagle in a parking lot out in Marana, Arizona, for about 3,000 people.
What’s the first thing you do after a show?
Usually go say hi to some of the folks out in the audience, unless the venue needs me out pronto, then I have to tear down [laughing].
What’s been your most exciting or unusual fan encounter?
I’ve had both male and female fans lift their shirts up during shows. That qualifies as exciting and unusual.
What’s your favorite song to cover?
There are two that I get requests for all the time that I love to do. My country version of “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and my mashup of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” and “Crazy Train.”
What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve done onstage?
Accidentally lock eyes with a big ol’ cowboy while singing “Like a Wrecking Ball.”