Ramblin' Rhodes: Florida Georgia Line is up front about how they roll

Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard of the country duo Florida Georgia Line accept the award for Duo Video of the Year at the CMT Music Awards at Bridgestone Arena on June 4 in Nashville, Tenn.

Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard, known internationally as the duo Florida Georgia Line, are coming back to Augusta for the third time in just over a year.


They are headlining their This Is How We Roll Summer Series 2014 tour which makes a stop at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 13, at Lake Olmstead Stadium.

Texas-born singer and rapper Nelly and North Carolina-born country newcomer Chris Lane
are special guests opening the show.

Tickets are $39.75 available through ticketfly.com. A limited number of tickets are for sale in person only at the Augusta GreenJackets box office. Call (706) 736-7889 to check on availability.

Florida Georgia Line performed at the A Day in the Country music festival at Augusta Riverfront Marina in May 2013 and on WKXC-FM’s Guitar Pull in James Brown Arena the following November.

“I don’t think I had ever been to Augusta before the riverfront concert,” Hubbard said in a call last week. He was born in Monroe, Ga., near Athens, and grew up in both Monroe and Good Hope in Walton County.

“We have some major fans in Augusta now,” he added, “and it’s always fun to come back and play for them.”

The duo’s performing name comes from Kelley’s being born in Jacksonville, Fla., and raised in nearby Ormond Beach and from Hubbard’s being from Georgia.

Their single releases including Stay, Get Your Shine On, Round Here, Cruise and This Is How We Roll (featuring Luke Bryan) have sold in the millions as has their Republic Nashville album Here’s to the Good Times.

Their music video of Cruise alone has topped more than 47 million views on youtube.com.

Both the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association have honored Florida Georgia Line as Duo of the Year. Last Wednesday night, they won CMT Music Awards for Duo Video of the Year for Round Here and Collaborative Video of the Year with Luke Bryan for This is How We Roll.

Even though they have been appearing in packed stadiums, the duo decided to perform shows this June in selected baseball stadiums after enjoying the experience last year at a ballpark in Lexington, Ky.

Ballparks are very familiar to Kelley who played baseball for Florida State University, Daytona State College in Florida and Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.

They spent late 2013 opening on Bryan’s Dirt Road Diaries tour. They will re-join Jason Aldean’s Burn It Down tour in late July, which will carry them into the fall.

Even though both Bryan and Aldean are also from Georgia, Hubbard said he never crossed their paths until he moved to Nashville after he graduated from Loganville (Ga.) Christian Academy in 2005.

In fact, Hubbard saw almost no celebrity concerts until after graduating from high school except for a vague memory of seeing Tim McGraw in a show somewhere he doesn’t remember.

Oddly enough, it would be Georgian Aldean who would become the first person to record one of Hubbard’s songs.

Aldean had found a song online that Hubbard co-wrote with Canaan Smith called Black Tears telling of black mascara-stained tears running down the face of a stripper who was caught up in a life of drugs and cheap sex.

The song had been recorded by Florida Georgia Line on an independently-produced album.

I asked Hubbard if the song was basically about someone getting in a situation that they could not get out of at the time.

“That’s one interpretation,” he replied. “You can pretty much interpret it the way you want, but it’s pretty much about putting yourself in another person’s position and thinking of life’s choices.”

There were only 12 students in Hubbard’s high school graduating class of 2005 at Loganville Christian Academy; the first class to graduate from the religion-based school.

Two years after Hubbard graduated from the academy his father and another man were killed in a helicopter accident near where the Hubbard family lived.

Roy Hubbard, a well-respected businessman, owned the helicopter and piloted it in his tree-cutting business to survey areas being cut.

Tyler Hubbard said he dealt with his 43-year-old father’s death the best way he could by trying harder to honor his memory with his music.

Today, Hubbard’s right forearm has a portrait of his father that was tattooed by a Los Angeles tattoo artist.

“I just found strength through the Lord to carry on and found peace,” Hubbard said. “I am a believer that every thing happens for a reason. I think it was definitely God’s will, and it has made me a stronger person.”

Hubbard’s faith is not just words. He and his performing partner, Kelley, each grew up playing in Christian praise bands with Hubbard being a youth worship leader.

Their music videos seen by millions on youtube.com and elsewhere pretty much portray the duo as pickup-driving, hell-raising young country rockers with lots of drinking going on while surrounded by scantily clad women.

So, if that is their image, what do Hubbard and Kelley want viewers of their videos to think of them?

“I think BK (what Hubbard calls Brian Kelley) and myself are two good ol’ boys who love the Lord, love the people around us and love having a good time,” he answered.

“We are who we are. We love to play and perform at our shows, and we love to have a good time and make people happy. We are very faith driven. We could never have gotten where we are today without our faith. We have very big shoes to fill.”


WHO: Florida Georgia Line’s This Is How We Roll Summer Series 2014 tour with special guests Nelly and Chris Lane

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday,
June 13

WHERE: Lake Olmstead Stadium

TICKETS: $39.75 through ticketfly.com. A limited number of tickets are for sale in person only at the Augusta GreenJackets box office. Call (706) 736-7889 to check on availability.