The fourth installment of the ExploreGeorgia.org Songwriter Series on Fri. Oct 7, 2016 at the Albany Museum of Art features Cole Taylor, Travis Denning and Trea Landon, three young Georgians making their marks in country music. The intimate in-the-round style concert kicks off at 8 p.m. with an opening acoustic set by popular Albany musicians Bo Henry, who leads the Bo Henry Band; singer/songwriter Jodi Mann; and Stephen Harrell, who fronts The Dusty Boots Band. Tickets are $15 in advance here and $20 at the door.
Though the southwest corner of Georgia is well known for its pine forests and peanut fields, the region also boasts an incredibly rich music heritage with American music icons Ray Charles and Otis Redding, jazz and swing pioneer Fletcher Henderson, bandleader Harry James, country superstar Luke Bryan, American Idol Season 11 winner Phillip Phillips, and two hit songwriters, Country Music Hall of Famer Boudleaux Bryant and Dallas Davidson, all having been born in the area.
Cole Taylor, whose father is a deer processor and taxidermist, grew up on the family farm in Cuthbert, Georgia. He made his first cd at age 16 in Gary DiBenedetto’s Moultrie recording studio and credits local venues who gave him an opportunity to play live. “I just remember playing in Albany at whatever place would give me a chance when I was 17 years old,” he says. “Austin’s BBQ, One Trick Pony, The Mellow Mushroom and right outside of Albany was the Sasser Flea Market where I opened up for a ton of artists and that was huge for me getting in front of people.”
Although he attended Valdosta State University, Taylor left just 13 hours shy of earning his degree in accounting to try his hand in Nashville. The decision proved well-founded, however, as Taylor landed a deal with Universal Publishing Group less than a year after arriving, and in 2015, he co-wrote his first #1 hit, “Sippin’ on Fire,” for Florida Georgia Line, and quickly followed it with a second chart-topper, “Home Alone Tonight,” Luke Bryan’s duet with Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town.
Taylor, Travis Denning and Jon Langston—all Georgia boys—were just announced as openers for select dates on fellow Georgian Cole Swindell’s upcoming Down Home Tour, presented by CMT On Tour, and kicking off Oct. 26. For Denning, who was raised in Bonaire, the Swindell tour caps off a year of career milestones that includes a slew of co-writing credits— “Everybody We Know Does,” the new single by Chase Rice, two cuts on Justin Moore’s brand new album, Kinda Don’t Care and a cut on Jason Aldean’s highly anticipated new album, They Don’t Know, out Sept. 9.
“The song is called “All Out Of Beer,” Jason’s dad Barry played it for him over Thanksgiving of 2014, and he immediately put it on hold,” Denning says. “I think it just fits right in the wheelhouse of what he does so well as an artist, and I’m very fortunate he felt that way too.”
Just over a year ago, 21-year-old Trea Landon left his hometown of Claxton and the following he’d built in Statesboro for his band, for Nashville. Within a month of arriving, he signed a deal with Play It Again Publishing, owned by Albany native Dallas Davidson, who has more than 20 #1 hits under his belt and says of Landon, “I definitely see a bright future ahead of him.”
Landon says of his mentor, “Dallas has influenced me, helping me grow as a songwriter and on the business side of the industry, by watching him, I’m learning what to do and what not to do.” When asked what he misses most about Georgia these days, Landon quips, “Everything I sing about.”
Concertgoers will also get to check out The Albany Museum of Art’s current exhibition, Motion Forward: Street Style featuring the work of two Brooklyn, New York artists: JM Rizzi, a neo-abstract expressionist and muralist who has worked with famed street artists Banksy, Shepard Fairey and Jean-Michel Basquiat; and Tony “Rubin” Sjöman, a Swedish artist who is considered a staple in the New York City street art scene and whose first book, Rubin: New York/Scandinavia was published in May of 2016. The Albany Museum of Art is located at 311 Meadowlark Drive. The ExploreGeorgia.org Songwriter Series will continue on Nov. 19 at the Holly Theatre in Dahlonega with Pat Alger, Tony Arata and Amy Ray and culminate on Dec. 2 at the Douglass Theatre in Macon for a summit of songwriting keyboardists featuring Lloyd Buchanan, Lola Gulley and Ike Stubblefield.