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Posted May 3, 2013 | comments Leave a comment

Duck Dynasty, Idol arrive for Bloom

By Alex Bridges

WINCHESTER -- Reality TV came to the Bloom on Friday with the arrival of stars from two hit shows.

Country music artist Scott "Scotty" McCreery serves as the grand marshal of the 86th Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival. McCreery became the youngest male winner of American Idol in 2011 as well as the show's first top country music performer.

This year's picks to serve as marshals of the firefighers parade, Jep and Jessica Robertson, star in the A&E network reality show "Duck Dynasty" about the family that struck it rich with a duck-call business.

McCreery and the Robertsons spoke to local media at the press conference at First Presbyterian Church in Old Town Winchester.

McCreery spoke about his visit to the historic home of country music legend Patsy Cline, mixing his college studies with touring and his own idols.

"Any time you get the chance to stand where a legend used to stand you get the chills," McCreery said.

The singer hinted he might do his own take on a Cline hit.

"I think everybody would love to cover a Patsy song, so we may break out a 'Crazy' tune or two, but it'd be nice," McCreery said.

The artist is working on his next album, but this time he doesn't face the same recording deadline he did as an American Idol winner. That process had to happen quickly, he recalled. McCreery said his next album likely could come out in October.

The Garner, N.C., native said he looked forward to going out and meeting people during the festival.

"Already I've only been here a few hours and it's been a great experience and everybody's been so nice and warm and receptive of me," McCreery said, adding that he looks forward to "just seeing what this town's all about."

"So far it's been a really cool place," McCreery added.

After the festival, McCreery said he has to return to North Carolina State University where he majors in communications with a focus on media. McCreery said he has two exams Monday.

"Then it's summer time and the livin's easy," McCreery said.

The singer and his band hit the fair and festival circuit this summer. College limits McCreery to performing Thursday through Sunday, he said. The summer lets McCreery and the band go out for a few weeks at a time. This summer McCreery said with the addition of a second tour bus he plans to bring more of his friends to help along the tour.

"It's been a pretty wild and incredible time since the Idol finale, I'd say," McCreery said, who recalled one of the most interesting moments - his trip to Graceland, home of Elvis Presley.

"If you follow me you'll know that I'm a huge Elvis Presley fan and that's all I listened to when I was a kid, and to be there, it was kinda like being at Patsy's house," McCreery said. "You just kinda have that feeling that you're in the presence of greatness."

McCreery said he would "love to" come back to the Winchester area to perform.

McCreery still follows "American Idol" and roots for fellow country singer Kree Harrison.

"They're all pretty good this year," McCreery said. "It's a new vibe this year, so it's been interesting to watch."

McCreery also keeps in contact with other Idol contestants from his winning season, usually through mass text messages about once a month.

"We're a tight-knit family because of the fact that we had to live together in a foxhole for, I mean, four or five months," McCreery said. "Now we're off kinda doing our own thing. We still remember where we came from. We still remember where we got our start on Idol."

McCreery said "it feels great" to be part of the Idol alumni, several of whom have served as celebrity guests in recent Blooms.

"To be in the same category as a Kelly Clarkson or a Carrie Underwood, it's pretty huge in my book," McCleery said.

Asked who he wants to work with next in his recording career, McCreery named fellow country music artist Keith Urban. McCreery said Urban gave him the song, "Walk in the Country" that he recorded on his first album.

"He's a great musician and country guitar god, so it would be cool to work [with him]," McCreery said,

The recent death of country music legend George Jones also affected McCreery. While country music has changed, McCreery said he thinks Jones would be successful if starting out today.

"He's one of those guys that came in and he did it his way," McCreery said. "But he sang the songs that really meant something. I mean he'd tear your heart up with a country song."

"It's been a sad time for country music, but it's also been a time for us artists to kinda introduce people that didn't necessarily grow up with the traditional country to that music," McCreery said.

Jep Robertson admitted that he didn't start listening to country music until his brother, Willie, began to get to know some current artists such as Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean. Robertson said since then he has hunted with Bryan and Aldean. He said Aldean and Bryan, when hunting, are "just as goofy when they're not hunting."

The family business took off and Robertson said the number of people working in the factory making duck calls increased from 15-20 before the TV show began airing, to 60 workers now.

"So it just got that big, that fast, where it was like we just had to hire a lot of people," Robertson said.

The Robertsons refute cynics who say the show isn't real.

"My answer on that one is you can't script [Uncle] Si," Jep Robertson said. "That dude's real as it gets."

Jessica Robertson said the cameras can make people feel uncomfortable at first, but then they forget the crews are recording the family's actions. She recalled the family felt some reluctance with doing the show, but that has since disappeared. They're still getting used to the renown that comes with the show.

"I think we're humble and we're grateful for it and I think we're going to keep each other level," Jessica Robertson said. "We're all in this together and there's nothing special without us without Jesus Christ."

As for the Bloom, the Robertsons said they haven't been a part of a festival of this size aside from a Mardi Gras parade.

"I love to meet the new fans and the kids - I love to see all the kids," she said. "You just connect with them and are really part of our hearts and we have four kids so it's really important to make those connections, for them to feel like you've taken that time, looked them in the eyes and shaken their hand."

The Robertsons often meet people who share the same Christian values, Jessica Robertson said. Fans of the show also see the Robertsons as good models, she said.

The Robertsons acknowledge that their show often stands out among reality TV programs and cultural icons.

"Here's what I always ask kids from like 10 to 16: I'm like, who do you like more - Justin Bieber or Duck Dynasty," Jep Robertson said. "And when they say Duck Dynasty I'm like 'Yes! I got another one.' No offense, Justin."

But success hasn't changed the Robertsons that much.

"I always say I got a nicer truck," Jep Robertson said. "Other than that everything is just like it was."

Jessica Robertson gave some advice.

"It's not so much important to climb the corporate ladder," she said. "It's keeping your family close and love and forgiveness. It's something we teach our kids every day."

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

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