Florida Georgia Line makes WE Fest debut
Besides familiar names like John Anderson and Sawyer Brown -- who have each played the festival a record-setting 11 times -- the 30th anniversary lineup for WE Fest will also include several first-timers like Colt Ford, Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers and Miss Willie Brown.
Two of those fresh faces, the duo known as Florida Georgia Line, are true newcomers not only to WE Fest, but to the country music scene as a whole, having just started performing together in 2009.
Tyler Hubbard, who hails from Monroe, Ga., and Brian Kelley from Ormond Beach, Fla. -- yes, that's where the name comes from -- first met when they were both college students at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., where they both now make their home.
"We met through a mutual friend of ours," said Kelley. "We just hit it off musically, and we started singing and performing together.
"One night we just decided to start taking it seriously... to work hard at it and see where we could go."
In the past couple of years, they've already come pretty far. Their debut single, "Cruise," has already sold over 150,000 digital download copies since its April 2012 release date.
"'Cruise' is doing great," said Hubbard. "It's climbing the charts.
"It's fun to watch people singing along with it when we're performing live ... it's been really cool to see it spreading across the country," he added.
"Cruise" was the first single to be released from the duo's five-song EP, "It'z Just What We Do."
Hubbard and Kelley co-wrote all five songs on the EP -- something that may become increasingly difficult to do as their popularity grows.
"We love writing songs, that's our first passion and what we truly love," said Hubbard. "We were fortunate ... so far all the songs we have out (on EP), we've written."
Lately, however, the two have been so busy "it's been tough finding time to write," he added.
So they've begun looking for songs written by others that fit their style, "something we can relate to, or something that we might have written," said Kelley.
The goal is to record enough new material to turn their five-song EP into a full-length album.
"That's the plan," Kelley said, adding that they don't really have a clear idea when the full-length album might be ready for release.
"We're going back into the recording studio today," Hubbard added. "We'll do five or six more songs and repackage the EP songs with them to make a full record.
"We've got a music video we're shooting tomorrow (Wednesday), and then we're flying out to Los Angeles to do some writing and some media stuff, and then we'll continue touring. We're working on a tour with Jake Owen for the fall so we're pretty excited."
The duo is also thrilled to be making their WE Fest debut on Saturday, kicking things off on the main stage at 2:45 p.m. They will also have an opportunity to perform a second, longer set at 12:15 a.m. on the Barn Stage, after the headliners, Alabama, close out the festival's main stage performances.
"Some of the funnest shows we do are outdoors, and we've heard a lot of great things about WE Fest," Hubbard said. "It's pretty exciting -- they've got some great fans out there."
Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.