RON HARTMAN/CHRONICLE PHOTOBret Lucich brings the funny – and the serious at times – to the stage.

COTTAGE GROVE – Bret Lucich received an eager request Friday night at the Village Green. Someone asked him to play “Bring ’Em Home.”

But the name of Lucich’s beautiful, somewhat-famous, patriotic song is actually “One Hero at a Time.”

He was still flattered by the moment. 

“I think that’s great that somebody in Cottage Grove wants to hear Bring ’Em Home, because that’s exactly what our President is doing right now in Afghanistan,” Lucich said. 

He was inspired to write “One Hero at a Time” after watching his father receive a 21-gun salute during his 2009 burial at Willamette National Cemetery. 

“Everybody always says, ‘Army, Navy, Air Force, the Marines,’ and my dad used to always say, ‘Simply forgot us,’” Lucich recalled. “So in honor of my dad, I mention Coast Guard first, then National Guard, then Army, Navy and so on.

“It’s also for all the first responders. Not just them, but the grocery workers, the essential workers, farmers, bus drivers … trying to get all of that under 3 minutes for the radio was impossible.” 

Lucich, a one-man band who lives in Lincoln City, played Friday and Saturday nights at the Village Green. He’s tentatively scheduled to be back next month. His act is billed as a music-comedy show, yet he says he’s never done stand-up.

“I do a lot of sit-down comedy with my guitar,” Lucich said. “A lot of people do stand-up, I do sit-down.”

He also plays as many as six instruments at a time, sometimes introducing his alter-egos, Willie Cash and Elvis Orbison, with full headgear. He works the crowd constantly, always hoping for some good audience participation.

“Mel Blanc was my idol as a kid and I tried to perfect all the cartoon characters. They called me The Man of 1,000 Voices,” Lucich said. “But I don’t think anybody can do 1,000 voices … maybe I can do 20 or 30, though.” 

With artists ranging from Bobby Darin to Bob Dylan, Lucich’s song selections kept the crowd on its toes with his soothing, versatile style. One particular highlight was “He’ll Have To Go,” an old country song by Jim Reeves.

“That’s a song my dad used to sing to my mom,” Lucich said.

“I grew up on a farm listening to country and gospel,” he said. “My mom took my three brothers and me to church and she conducted the choir, and we rode around and sang songs all the time.”

Of course, he injected a little humor whenever the moment called for it, like during his borrowed version of “Stairway to Heaven.”

There’s a lady I know,

And she’ll make your muscles grow,

’Cause she’s buying steroids from Kevin. 

Lucich is a funny guy. But when it comes to standing up for his country, he’s glad to have music as a vehicle to express his more serious side. 

“One Hero” wasn’t his only meaningful patriotic song. In 2013, he was invited to the State Capitol after co-writing “Spirit of 45,” a song about Pearl Harbor. The song was instrumental in getting former Gov. Kitzhaber to declare the second Sunday in August as “Spirit of 45 Day.”

Now, if all goes well, “One Hero at a Time” might be played in front of a packed arena at an NBA game in Portland, probably next season. 

Lucich said he has been in contact with Mike Hope, a front office staffer who left the Lakers organization to join the Trail Blazers. 

“I was talking to him at the exact time Kobe crashed his helicopter, and he was good friends with Kobe,” Lucich said of the tragic accident that also killed Kobe Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gigi and seven other people. “Mike had told me a year earlier that he would write me a letter of recommendation.”

In the meantime, Lucich will do what he enjoys most: make music.

“I don’t ever want to stop doing this,” he said. “If you find something you love to do, you never work a day in your life. I don’t know who said that (it was Marc Anthony), but I kind of live by that motto.”