Rudy Parris is living his dream.
It’s Friday afternoon and he’s standing mid-stage at Buck Owen’s Crystal Palace surrounded by members of the Buckaroos, a band he’s aspired to play with since he was a kid.
Watching too many “Hee Haw” reruns will do that to you.
The band is in the middle of rehearsing the classic tune “Tennessee Whiskey,” with Parris singing full-on, his booming voice filling the empty room. He calls directions out to the drummer.
“Give me some ride there,” he says.
“Make it big.”
This was the first rehearsal, the only one really, before Parris starts his gig as featured artist with the band. He’ll be singing and playing with the Buckaroos at a series of monthly gigs that runs through August. The next show is 7 p.m. Saturday, March 9.
Parris is playing fill-in for Monty Byrom, who left the band in January after fronting the Buckaroos for 13 years. The guy was a good singer, a strong guitar player and an entertainer, so that’s what the band was looking for in a replacement, says keyboardist/band leader Jim Shaw.
There aren’t many players around Bakersfield who fit that bill.
“Rudy popped right to the top,” Shaw says.
Parris does have the résumé. In 2012, he made a better-than-decent showing on NBC’s “The Voice” (#teamshelton).
When Parris sings, it’s with a deep country twang, though he can also bring the soul; on “Tennessee Whiskey,” for example, which the band does as a mash-up with Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind.”
He also has a history with Owens and the Crystal Palace. He spent 10 years playing in the house band there during the late 1990s. When Owens died in 2006, Parris was invited to the funeral and sat there alongside guys like Garth Brooks and Dwight Yoakam.
When the Buckaroos take the stage later that night following that first rehearsal, there’s a crowd of regulars on the dance floor ready to sing along — and also kick heels and turn in sync. Country line dancing is still that popular at the Crystal Palace.
For his part, Parris is all smiles, dressed in black and borrowing Owens’ iconic red, white and blue telecaster guitar for the night.
“It’s good to be back home,” he says.
“It’s been awhile.”
▪ With featured guest Rudy Parris
▪ 7 p.m. Saturday
▪ Buck Owen’s Crystal Palace, 2800 Buck Owens Blvd., Bakersfield
Six other noteworthy events for the week
▪ Rogue Festival, through Saturday. Various venues in the Tower District $5 wristband. Individual show prices vary. fresnoroguefestival.com
▪ Big Poppa’s Pop-up Cafe. Seating starting at 5:46 a.m. Saturday. Take 3, 1230 Fulton St. $50. www.eventbrite.com
▪ Burger Revolution 7. 7 p.m. Saturday. Full Circle Olympic. 1426 Van Ness. $5. www.eventbrite.com
▪ Atmosphere. 7 p.m. March 13. Tioga Sequoia Brewing Co., 745 Fulton St. $29.50. www.ticketweb.com