“Once upon a time them boys started jammin’, and God looked down and said, ‘It is good.’”
There’s no use in trying to compare or describe what they do. You can’t really accurately and fully recreate the show experience to a friend. There’s a good chance you find yourself bored with whatever follows them on your iPod. The one thing you can do is keep listening. You have to. You can’t stop watching. You can’t stop moving. You can’t stop singing.
BLACKJACK BILLY is Rob Blackledge and Noll Billings.
When they met in January of 2011, they had no idea that less than a year later they would be creating and molding a sound that Nashville had never heard; a sound that Nashville desperately needed.
It was, and is, a perfect mixing pot. Blackledge, hailing from Madison, MS, brought the blues, soul, country and melody. Billings, hailing from Kennett, MO stirred in the rock, more country, hip-hop, and beat. Producer Jeff Coplan tied it together with a vision and an electric guitar and what you got can only be described as BLACKJACK BILLY.
Each member took a different and unique journey to this stage.
Noll Billings was raised in Kennett, MO. His hometown roots run deep but his love for adventure has propelled him far beyond his small town upbringing. After playing college basketball in St. Louis Noll, moved to Hawaii where he spent most of his time on the waves. If there is a beach, you’ll find Noll on it. He island hopped for a few years until he knew that the music he’d been playing in bars had to find a bigger stage. Almost immediately upon moving to Nashville Noll signed a publishing deal as a songwriter with EMI Music Group and spent his first year in Music City in pursuit of a record deal as a solo country artist. Opportunities came and went and it was near the end of that year that Billings met Blackledge and for the first time the two of them sat down to write a song together. Something special was born.
Rob Blackledge was raised in Madison, MS. His earliest memories were of the baseball field, hunting, fishing, and the piano, so his family wasn’t too surprised when he decided to move to Nashville after high school to attend Belmont University’s School of Music Business. It was only a matter of months before Rob was on the road touring as a solo artist. It was 8 years later in 2010 that Rob befriended the then unknown band “Love and Theft”. Rob began writing with the guys and one of the songs written was called “Runaway”. It was Love and Theft’s first top ten single. Grateful for the unplanned success Blackledge was still not certain Nashville was the place for him. Just months before moving, an introduction was made that planted Rob in Nashville for good. You guessed it… Noll Billings.
Collectively for Rob and Noll the past year has been monumental. After teaming up with producer Jeff Coplan (Love and Theft, Bowling For Soup) they were quickly noticed by Nashville music insider Doug Howard (Lyric Street Records, Polygram Music Publishing) who signed the boys to his new publishing company, Vandermont Music. Let the writing begin. In their first year, the duo has written and recorded over 30 songs, played nearly 50 shows and already shared the stage with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Justin Moore, Dustin Lynch, The Doobie Brothers, Trent Tomlinson, The Usual Suspects, Lady Antebellum, One Republic, Tonic, Josh Hoge, Will Hoge, Chris Young, Easton Corbin, and Lo Cash Cowboys. All of this activity caught the eye of Nashville icon Tony Conway. Conway has recently picked up the reigns as manager of this rocketing young duo.
As you can see, BLACKJACK BILLY is Rob Blackledge and Noll Billings. But let’s be honest, BLACKJACK BILLY is really a lot more than that.