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Usana ends the summer with rising country stars

Published September 22, 2013 4:27 pm

Three acts • Luke Bryan headlines, with Thompson Square and Florida Georgia Line.
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Rising country superstar Luke Bryan closes out the Usana Amphitheatre's outdoor summer concert series Friday, Sept. 20 — but even with his laurels, he's not the only reason the show has been sold out for months.

There's also the opening act, Florida Georgia Line. The duo of Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley this summer did what neither Bryan nor the other opening act, Thompson Square, has done: released one of the most listened-to songs of the summer, alongside smashes "Blurred Lines" and "Get Lucky."

Florida Georgia Line's "Cruise" has become the best-selling song by a country duo in digital history and reached a peak of No. 4 on Billboard's all-genres singles chart — a feat that only country acts such as Taylor Swift achieve. A remix featuring rapper Nelly boosted the popularity of the 3 ½-minute slice of country-pop heaven.

In a phone interview, Kelley, a Florida native, said that the time he first met up with Hubbard, a Georgia native, at Belmont University in Tennessee, he knew they were meant to be tied at the hip.

"We figured out we were better off together than on our own," he said. "Where we come together, that's where the magic happens."

The duo's first album, "Here's to the Good Times," was released last December and already has produced two hit singles on the country charts, with another pop charting song likely. "Round Here" and "Get Your Shine On" have done gangbusters, with the two twangy singers showing off a knack for melody as well as songcraft.

It is becoming increasingly rare to see country singers write their own songs, but the two co-wrote more than half of the songs on the album. "We're always going to write, but we're not going to record a song [we wrote] that's terrible," Kelley said.

Playing between Florida Georgia Line and Bryan is Thompson Square, which followed up its first hit, 2010's "Are You Going to Kiss Me Or Not?", with "If I Didn't Have You," off the 2012 sophomore album "Just Feels Good."

Thompson Square is the husband-and-wife team of Keifer and Shawna Thompson. Their all-important second record turned out to be a concept autobiographical album, which could have been considered a risky move.

"We didn't set out to do that," said Keifer Thompson. "We wanted to have some fun, and we wanted to tell a little bit about out stories." He paused. "We didn't realize we told so much."

The Nashville-based Thompsons grew up on traditional country, which helps explain why the video for their recent single, "Everything I Shouldn't Be Thinking About," was shot inside the late Patsy Cline's home, with Keifer and Shawna dressed as if they were straight out of the 1950s.

"Every girl dreams of being Patsy Cline," Shawna said.

There could be tension on the tour, because recently Thompson Square and Florida Georgia Line learned they were both nominated for Vocal Duo of the Year at the upcoming Country Music Association Awards. Keifer Thompson pooh-poohed any unhealthy rivalry, saying it was actually the guys in Florida Georgia Line who told him first of the nomination. —

Last show at Usana

Country singer Luke Bryan headlines, with up-and-coming country acts Thompson Square and Florida Georgia Line opening.

When • Friday, Sept. 20, at 7 p.m.

Where • Usana Amphitheatre, 5150 S. 6055 West, West Valley City.

Tickets • Sold out.