Colorado grown — born and raised at 5280.
“I don’t like country music but I like you.”
Maybe it’s that “no-fear-of-the-edge” mentality that hooks the non-country-lovin’ folk… but no doubt the 6’4” bass-baritone powerhouse melts, molds, and moves you the way only a man of country music can. .
The most common question a singer will be asked is, “When did you start singing?” Buckstein’s answer: “When I found out that the chicks dig it.” Sounds like a punchline but it’s the truth.
He was 13, at summer camp, trying to figure out how to meet girls like everyone else. A couple of girls were singing “Amazing Grace” and he shyly scooted up next to them and started singing along. “When they found out I could sing they immediately introduced me to all the other girls in the camp,” he chuckles. “I’ve been singing ever since.”
His love of country music is thanks to his father who introduced him to the genre. Despite his attempts to hate it-- “It takes one good country song to hook ya.” Buckstein warns. “Mine was probably ‘Thunder Rolls’ by Garth Brooks or ‘This Ain’t No Thinking Thing’ by Trace Adkins. I heard those tunes when I was about 11 or 12 and something just clicked—I was hooked.”
He continued to grow up a country boy at heart often retreating on horseback into the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. However, living in the city he had the opportunity to explore musical influences outside of the expected box, running a gamut that you can hear in his writing. Influences include blues, rock, rap, top 40 and classics from the ’50s.
Buckstein studied theater in college, earning his BA from California State University, Fullerton. He had moved to LA to pursue a career as an actor. “I couldn't get arrested in Los Angeles.” he jokes. “One day a few friends of mine went to the ‘American Idol’ auditions, which was the hottest show on TV at the time. They wanted some company so I went along. I got through and they didn’t. It was Idol that set me on a different path.” He hit 200 million television sets worldwide as a contestant on the finale of “American Idol” in Season 5, and he returned to Denver with music on the brain.
He started singing with whomever would back him up, growing along the way, learning his craft, year after year, little by little, making friends, music, mistakes, and big moves.. “Those years were invaluable,” he says. “They call it ‘paying your dues.’ It always sounded like a bad thing. But I found out paying your dues can be some of the most fun you’ll ever have.”
With the help of his band, "The Heard", he has rocked crowds opening for Charlie Daniels, Dustin Lynch, Old Dominion, Eli Young, John Michael Montgomery, Mark Chesnutt, Vanilla Ice, and many, many others. He’s gained local fame as a regular guest star writing witty tunes on the spot on Denver’s hottest country station 98.5 KYGO and also as the writer and performer of “The Grizzly Rose,” which is a popular song and music video about the famous Denver country nightclub... Buckstein wrote the song about his experience during his first week playing at the legendary venue.
He began, as most do, singing covers of all of the artists he was most influenced by. Buckstein embraces covers and thinks that no matter what, “there should always be room in your set to pay homage to the artists and songs that have touched your life. Even when you’re selling out arenas with your own stuff you can do that. I have a saying: ‘Today we play the songs that others have written… so that someday we may play the songs that we have written… so that someday others may play the songs that we have written.’ You gotta put those pauses in there for dramatic effect,” he laughs.
Like any cowboy, Buckstein has traversed valleys and mountains to get where he is — and his journey is just beginning.
“Music, especially country, is a way to communicate, to speak our truth, to build a community around timeless old-world ideals: honesty, integrity, facing your fears, caring for others.”
True to the cowboy code, he finds creative ways to explore and communicate universal truths. Buckstein’s goal is to bring soul to everything he does. “What people seem to respond most to in my life and in my live performances is my passion, so I work hard to bring that passion to everything I record... my sound gets compared a lot to the great bass-baritones of my time: Trace Adkins, Toby Keith, Josh Turner, and Chris Young. But I personally hate comparisons. I don’t think Josh Turner wants to hear he sounds like Don Williams,” he laughs. “If my sound were a drink, I'd like to think it would be under a cork instead of a twist cap; a crisp bite with a smooth finish.”
He gives all the thanks in the world to his fans and his crew: “Without the people who support me, on stage and off, this would all be for nothing. I try to always surround myself with good people who want to make good music for other good people.”
And if you’re still wondering, it’s pronounced “Buck-steen.”