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Singer with Parkersburg ties looks to hit a high note

From the left, John Pizz and Will Lockhart, who goes by Willie Lock, The Sunrise Highway duo from New York City, will perform Friday in Parkersburg where Lockhart has family ties. (Photo Provided)

PARKERSBURG — A New York City singer and songwriter with ties to the Mid-Ohio Valley is taking his act on the road and plans a show in Parkersburg.

Will Lockhart, who goes by Willie Lock, used to do about 100 shows a year in the Big Apple and its environs, but the pandemic and the measures taken to stop the spread of the virus put a crimp in his gigs.

“It sure did,” he said. “It’s been a little crazy here in New York.”

Lockhart is the son of Roger Lockhart of Parkersburg. While he was raised in the Washington, D.C., area where he attended high school, he spent many a summer in Parkersburg with his grandparents and visiting aunts, uncles and cousins.

He’s also a fan of the West Virginia University Mountaineers, the flagship school of higher learning in West Virginia.

Will Lockhart (Photo Provided)

With the pandemic restrictions imposed by health officials, artists in New York have taken to perform in parking lots, Lockhart said. Lockhart and his partner in his two-man band, guitarist John Pizz, did a few parking lot shows, too. They call themselves Sunrise Highway.

“They went well, so we decided to take it on the road,” Lockhart said.

Lockhart’s and Pizz’s New York-to-Nashville tour is scheduled to be in Parkersburg 7 p.m. Friday at J.P. Henry’s on Emerson Avenue, where social distancing from the state will be observed. The show will be outside.

“We’re pumped up about that,” Lockhart said.

More shows are planned in New York, Bloomington, Ind., Louisville, Ky., and Nashville, Tenn., he said.

Lockhart came to New York City about four and a half years ago. He lived in Bloomington, for eight years where he was both classically trained and re-introduced to a love of country music.

He decided to move to New York City and pursue his career there. Lockhart eventually joined a band where he met Pizz.

The duo is influenced by several musical styles, country, rock and roll and pop. It performs songs Lockhart has written, rock and roll from the 1970s and 1980s, songs by Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen and classic country including Brooks and Dunn and Johnny Cash.

He performed a show at the Smoot Theatre in Parkersburg five years ago with his a cappella group, Gentleman’s Rule, in a kick off of the fall 2015 season.

“That was pretty cool,” Lockhart said.

He has been featured on MTV, Billboard, Fuse, Capital FM, “On Air With Ryan Seacrest,” PBS, The Boot, New York’s Country 94.7, NY Country Swag, WGN, ABC 7 Chicago, Kickstarter and Vice. Lockhart has also been on stage with Jake Owen, Cuba Gooding Jr., The Oak Ridge Boys, Pete Davidson, Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, Clayton Anderson, Carolyn Miller and Jay Leno.

Jess Mancini can be reached at jmancini@newsandsentinel.com.

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