If you go
What: Tracy Lawrence and Rick Huckaby
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Clay Center
Tickets: $20 to $50
Info: www.theclaycenter.org or 304-561-3570
FYI: The concert is a benefit for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Charleston and Parkersburg
Rick Huckaby's Friday night concert at the Clay Center accomplishes three things.
The country singer gets to return to the state where he spent his formative years. He gets to play with his good friend, Tracy Lawrence, for whom Huckaby has written 10 songs and counting.
And together, the singers get to support a cause important to them - Boys and Girls Clubs.
"This is something special we're doing for West Virginia," Huckaby said. "I had been approached by some friends of mine to do this, and we've been trying to get Tracy involved. He was obviously the linchpin, and I'm so glad it finally came together."
Huckaby, who was Lawrence's guitarist for five years until he launched his own solo career, said the two don't get to see each other as often as they would like, let alone perform together.
"We had a chance to sit down and write last week and have lunch," he said. "We don't get to see each other as much as we'd like. He's touring, doing 100 dates a year. I do almost that many."
Huckaby was born in Louisiana but moved to Huntington as a boy when his dad, the late Rick Huckabay, took a job as Marshall University's basketball coach. It was there that Huckaby developed his musical interests.
"That is the Mecca of my fan base," he said. "I really love to go back there and play."
The Huckabay name is famously mispronounced - it's "bee" and not "bay" - so Huckaby made the professional decision to change the spelling.
"My dad was the only one I was worried about," he said. "But once I explained that I was trying to help the pronunciation problem, he was OK with it. And I honestly didn't care what any body else thought."
Huckaby has lived in Nashville since 1996 and has since been joined by brother Andy and their mother. He and Andy formed an independent label, HeadCoach Music, in 2007, the name in honor of their dad, who died the year before. His first release was "Call Me Huck."
Huckaby said his brother pushed him to create the label.
"He wanted me to do this for a long time, and I tried to talk him out of it. He was in a field he wasn't passionate about any more, and I'm grateful to him for wanting to do that. All of his efforts put me on a national radar."
As a singer-songwriter, Huckaby said he has to schedule time for both.
He's currently touring in support of his March release, "Hittin' My Stride," but when he's home on weekdays, Huckaby can be found writing, often in partnership with other songwriters.
"I don't really take days off," he said. "The songwriting game is so competitive, you have to write."
One of his regular collaborators is Nashville writer Michael White, whom Huckaby describes as a "fantastic" songwriter.
"We have a standing Tuesday appointment," he said.
His current album was three years in coming and Huckaby said one reason was he wanted to ensure it had strong songs.
"I'm definitely not done making records," he said. "Hopefully I can continue to make them."
Having his family in Nashville has been nice, Huckaby said.
"We've got the whole family here, including my mom. My brother has two little boys and usually on Sundays we'll go to Mom's and have dinner."
After Friday's concert at the Clay Center, Huckaby is heading west to catch up with old friends and play a late-night set at Huntington's VClub.
Contact writer Monica Orosz at mon...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4830.
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