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Florida Georgia Line opening for Jason Aldean at Verizon in Manchester

Friday, January 24, 2014

By GEORGE PELLETIER

Correspondent

MANCHESTER – It’s been a singular year for country as Florida Georgia Line explodes on the country rock circuit. Next up for the duo, opening for Jason Aldean at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 30.

Consider this: FGL has tallied more than 12 million tracks sold worldwide from their chart-topping platinum-certified debut, “Here’s to the Good Times.” They’ve won an American Music award for Single of the Year, Academy of Country Music honors for Best New Artist and New Vocal Duo of the year, and American Country awards for Artist of the Year and Single of the Year, to mention just a few accolades for Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard.

FGL’s Kelley talked about their “it” moment, from on the road in Des Moines, Iowa.

“I don’t know if we’ll ever say that we made it,” Kelley said. “We think we’re very blessed to play music and be able to travel around by bus and have the most amazing singers and have the support of radio. It’s unreal.”

When pressed, however, Kelley did name one date in particular: The moment he and Hubbard signed their first publishing contract.

“That was Dec. 1, 2012, when we signed our first publishing deal with Blue Cloud Mountain,” Kelley said. “We knew it felt so good to write songs and be able to call ourselves songwriters. Everything that has happened after that has been icing on the cake. We never dreamed or thought it would get so big. With country music, there is something special going on right now. We’re blessed to be a part of it.”

Growing up in Ormond Beach, Fla., (Kelley) and Monroe, Ga., (Hubbard), the twosome wrote songs in college before making it big. Kelley recalled some of their musical influences.

“Back then, we listened to everything from country to hip hop to rock to Christian and everything else,” he said. “Garth Brooks was a big influence on our songwriting – all the way from him to Lil Wayne. We’re kind of all over the map with our influences. That’s kind of where our sound comes from.”

USA Today called “Here’s to the Good Times” “the country party album of the year.” Kelley said he and Hubbard had no agenda; it was just the way their songs fell into the groove.

When asked about the type of connection he would hope his fans would have with his music, headliner Jason Aldean said, “I hope that people would listen to my album or my songs, but I try to record songs that I can relate to or that I have lived. There are a lot of people out there that really aren’t that different than me. I consider myself a pretty average guy, so hopefully they understand me and know where I am coming from. I kind of feel like I am a voice for them, or something like that. That would be cool. I don’t really know how else to put it other than that.”

Kelley said, echoing Aldean’s sentiments, “We’re playing where we are in our life right now and that’s feel-good stuff. . . . We just want to create an atmosphere where you can . . . just be in a good place. Celebrate life with the ones that mean the most to you.”

As for the musical landscape, Kelley said they’re huge fans of country music in general.

“We’re big fans of Cole Swindell, Cadillac Three, bands and acts that are changing the game and doing different stuff. It’s fun to be a part of this and hopefully lay down some groundwork for the evolution of country music,” he said.

Ultimately, it’s the uniqueness of a country music fan that makes it possible for acts like Jason Aldean and Florida Georgia Line to remain on top.

“I think country music fans are very dedicated,” Kelley said. “They want to know things, and that’s cool, because we try to be very transparent and pose for pictures and everything like that. It’s really cool. They want to meet us. They want to have a beer with us. They want to do whatever they can with us. And that’s cool.”

For tickets, visit www.verizonwirelessarena.com/ or call 644-5000.

George Pelletier can be reached at gpelletier3@gmail.com.

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