Florida Georgia Line members Brian Kelley, left with microphone, and Tyler… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)
Veterans and newbies coexist peacefully, if sometimes noisily, at Stagecoach, where aspiring youths and occasionally oldsters looking for fresh horizons get spotlight time in the early going, before the tried-and-true acts take over in the evening.
Florida Georgia Line, the group from — surprise! — Florida and Georgia just won the title of new artist of the year at the recent Academy of Country Music Awards, and got a shot on the Mane Stage in front of the majority of festival attendees.
Front guys Tyler Hubbard (Monroe, Ga.) and Brian Kelley (Ormond Beach, Fla.) pump out plenty of rock energy while attempting to inject rapped lyrics into several of their songs. But they're only too happy to fall back on the bane of mainstream country music: cliches about what "country" means.
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"I like fried chicken right off the bone/ I like my peaches home grown... With a little Garth on the radio/ A little bit of Florida, A little bit of Georgia/ And a lot of country in my soul." That's not a song — it's a Chamber of Commerce marketing campaign.
Blue Sky Riders, on the other hand, brings singer and songwriter Kenny Loggins at least his third go-round at success after his stint as half of Loggins & Messina in the '70s and his long run as a solo act in the '80s and '90s.
The new group, which also owes a lot to the Eagles and the Southern California country-rock tradition, also features veteran Nashville songwriter Gary Burr and Texas songwriter-singer Georgia Middleman. one of their songs, "You're Not the Boss of Me," would seem to have the requisite ingredients to make a modern country hit: crunching rock guitar riffs, an instantly hummable chorus and a good-time vibe. So what if it tells us next to nothing about actual lives?
[For the record, 7:40 p.m. April 28, 2013: A previous version of this post misstated Tyler Hubbard's first name as Ryan.]
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