By New Times
By Derek Askey
By Mark Deming
By Serene Dominic
By Jason Keil
By Robrt L. Pela and Amy Silverman
By Jeff Moses
By Serene Dominic
It's that time of year again, and with the holidays comes the annual Almost Acoustic Christmas concert. A seasonal staple, and one of the more buzzed-about events among Valley country fans, Almost Acoustic Christmas plans on beefing up the artists on the bill this year by featuring up-and-coming musicians Cole Swindell and Laura Bell Bundy, along with good ol' boy Colt Ford and superstar headliners Florida Georgia Line.
"It's going to be the biggest party of the [season]," promises Brian Kelley, one half of FGL. "I can't wait for everybody to see the production, because we have put a lot of time into it. We have lighting rigs that nobody else has, and video screens, and some other tricks up our sleeve. More than anything, just focus on the music. Any Florida Georgia Line fan knows what to expect at our show."
The music of FGL has spread like wildfire across the country in the past year with the release of its debut album, Here's to the Good Times, and the Almost Acoustic Christmas event is one of several stops on the band's first headlining tour. Few musicians can tell their story of success from the same perspective as FGL — its debut album is the first to have three consecutive singles rise to number one on the charts for multiple weeks since Brooks & Dunn's debut album in 1991.
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"We knew we had a special album, to be honest with you," says Kelley when asked about Here's to the Good Times going platinum. "We never put a number on it and said, 'It's going to do this or do that.' We just knew people would love it, because we did, and our fans are a lot like us. We wanted to make an album that represents Tyler [Hubbard] and me, where we come from and where we're at in life. Going platinum blew us away; that's definitely something that doesn't happen very often anymore. Our fans are amazing."
Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard are at the crest of the diverse country music wave coming out of the South. Their music is marketed as country, but a number of personal tastes show through on their album. Their deep love for any and all music, and their own close personal friendship, make the FGL engine roar.
"We figured we were better off together than separate," he says. "A record label didn't put us together or anything like that. We chose to be together because we love each other like brothers, and we have a good connection with music."
Two of the three additional performers at Almost Acoustic Christmas, Colt Ford and Cole Swindell, are fellow Georgian musicians.
"We got our start with Colt years ago while touring around in my car," Kelley says. "We had this opportunity to come up and we said, 'We have to get Colt back out with us.' And Cole Swindell is a great artist. He has huge things ahead of him."
FGL's rise to fame has been accompanied by several industry accolades, including "New Artist of the Year" from the ACM Awards, "Single of the Year" and "Duo of the Year" from the CMA Awards, and "Single of the Year" at the AMA Awards.
"It's been very humbling and very fast," Kelley says. "It comes from having an amazing team, amazing fans, and country radio backing us up. It all feels good, and it all feels like a dream. I think if anything, success has just made us want to work harder."