Country Duo 'Cruises' Through Jacksonville

Florida-Georgia Line talks about their humble beginnings before JU performance


Country duo Florida-Georgia Line performed a free show March 7 for a large crowd of Jacksonville University students, faculty and their friends and family.

Recently endorsed by superstars Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, Florida-Georgia Line, Tyler Hubbard of Monroe, Ga., and Brian Kelley of Ormond Beach, started their careers playing open mic nights and writing music after crossing paths at Belmont College in Nashville.

The band members talked about how it all began in an interview before the show.

“We met through a mutual friend, got together and started doing our thing. We realized we had a cool thing going with our voices,” Hubbard said. “I don't think we ever expected it to quite happen this fast. We had big dreams and big goals. We had our fingers crossed and we still do.”

After college, the duo set out to make a name for themselves, cramming their equipment in Kelley's Chevy Tahoe and hitting the road. They played acoustic shows and did a number of odd jobs to support themselves along the way. Mowing lawns and cleaning cars, the duo kept pursuing what they wanted to do — make music — with no plan B in the works.

With the release of the duo's first EP in 2010, they began to gain momentum, and the crowds at their shows started to expand. It was May of last year when the boys from opposite sides of the border released their EP titled "It'z Just What We Do," which included the hits “Cruise,” “Get Your Shine On” and “Tip it Back.”

The duo quickly caught the eye of labels when their single “Cruise” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Country Music chart after a mere 19 weeks, climbing to that spot faster than any band since 2006. It sold 100,000 copies even before the band was signed. In July 2012, they signed with Universal Republic Records.

Florida-Georgia Line pumped out all of their hits under the newly opened Larry Strom Amphitheatre on Dolphin Green overlooking the St. Johns River.

Florida-Georgia Line's spirited and upbeat set pumped through the amphitheatre. The short intermissions were anything but, as the Duo's band offered lengthy drum solos, ’70s rock guitar solos, and even a unique rock rendition of the opening theme song from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”

The band said their thank yous and made their way off stage at the end of the show. But, after a few minutes of encore chants, they returned to placate the rowdy crowd with a distinctive rendition of “Cruise.”

“I grew up an hour and 15 minutes away from here,” Kelley said earlier during the interview. “I love it. The weather is amazing. It feels like home.”

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