Riding high, Billy Ray Cyrus returns to Big Valley Jamboree
Country music star will ride success of Old Town Road 'til he can't no more
Billy Ray Cyrus took the stage at one of Canada's largest country festivals Friday night, with a new smash hit under his belt deemed not country enough for the Billboard country charts.
The artist's publicist confirmed that Cyrus would play Old Town Road at Big Valley Jamboree in Camrose, though he would not say if Lil Nas X would make an appearance.
The remix version of Lil Nas X's Old Town Road featuring Billy Ray Cyrus has reached 17 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 charts at number one, a new record stretch.
The success of the song Lil Nas X has described as "country trap" was spurred on when Billboard deemed it did not fit the country genre enough to remain on the country chart.
The hit is the first major Billboard single for Cyrus since he released Achy Breaky Heart in 1992, a song that peaked at number four on the Hot 100 chart and was a massive crossover hit for the country artist.
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Billy Ray Cyrus is a regular fixture at the Camrose festival and was scheduled to play last year, but had to cancel at the last minute due to problems with his plane. He promised he would be back this year.
Achy breaky again
"He was actually one of the best performers I've ever seen at Big Valley," said Marty Stevens, a retail sales manager at Edmonton country station CFCW. "He really connected with the crowd."
Stevens said when he saw Cyrus perform at the Jamboree a few years ago he only played Achy Breaky Heart once, but at his first solo concert in Edmonton Cyrus didn't have enough hits to fill an entire set.
"They pushed him out on the road and he didn't have anything else to sing, so he did sing it three or four times," he said.
Stevens said the station would never play Old Town Road though he's not surprised it's planned for Big Valley Jamboree.
CFCW, which is a sponsor of the Big Valley Jamboree, is Canada's oldest country station and has stuck close to its classic format.
"It has to be a country music song for us to play it," Stevens said. "There's another country music station in the city, but we don't play the same music because they'll play songs that have cross-over with lots of different stations, and we don't."
"Old Town Road is not a country song — it has rapping in it," he said.
"It's catchy, but it's not a country song."
Despite the song never being reintroduced on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, many country fans seem to have embraced it. Lil Nas X was invited to appear at the CMA fest in June, for a surprise performance of the song with Cyrus and Keith Urban.
"It's really picking up steam for some reason," Stevens said.
The festival itself is embracing the song as well, offering up a special drink named after Old Town Road.
It’s HOT OUT THERE! Cool off with The Old Town Road, Neon Moon, and Hillbilly Deluxe, available exclusively at the <a href="https://twitter.com/JimBeam?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JimBeam</a> Sugar Shacks located in the Jim Beam Backroom Bar and <a href="https://twitter.com/CoorsBanquetCA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CoorsBanquetCA</a> Saloon! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BVJ2019?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BVJ2019</a> <a href="https://t.co/qxQMYybRam">pic.twitter.com/qxQMYybRam</a>—@theBVJ
Big Valley Jamboree this year will host country stars like Toby Keith, Brett Kissel and Kane Brown. The outdoor camp-out music festival runs through to Aug. 4.