Calling all country music lovers – you're invited to the biggest party in the South. This weekend in Cullman, Alabama, you'll be able to catch some of country's brightest stars at Rock The South. The two-day festival runs June 3-4, with performances from Thomas Rhett, Florida Georgia Line, Cole Swindell, Joe Diffie, John Michael Montgomery, Kelsea Ballerini, and more!
Rock The South isn't just a great time, though – it's also supporting a terrific cause. Since 2011, the music festival has given over $200,000 back to the community through charities like No White Flags for Cancer, Children's Hospital of AL, and The Link, among others.
Southern Living caught up with country star Cole Swindell to talk Rock The South, his new single, and what being a Southerner (more specifically, a Georgia boy!) means to him.
On what Rock The South means to him: "I'm a country boy from Georgia, so there's nothing like playing a show in the South surrounded by people that love country music. It's my first time playing this festival, so my band and I are so excited to get down with country folks in Alabama."
On his current tour with Florida Georgia Line: "It's been incredible getting to be part of the Dig Your Roots tour. We've only been at it for about two weekends, but it's absolutely amazing. Every show gets better and better, and I get to have the opportunity to play with two of my best friends. I started touring with Luke Bryan and then with Jason Aldean, and I know I still have a lot to learn. It's hard to believe it's only been a couple of years, but it's all about getting your name and your music out there, so it's still a really big deal for me."
On his new single "You Should Be Here": "This song means the world to me. I'm hearing stories all over from fans and through the radio of people who have gone through similar situations, and it's great to know I'm not alone in it. It's hard that it took me losing my dad as the inspiration for this song, but songs like "You Should Be Here" are really the reason I love country music. It's about the power and depth of the lyrics and the music."
On what he's most looking forward to playing at Rock The South: "Definitely "You Should Be Here," because the crowd hears those first piano notes and they go absolutely wild. I also love playing "Ain't Worth The Whiskey" because it really gets the crowd going, and then I also get a chance to give a shoutout to the troops. And, I'm also looking forward to playing "No Can Left Behind," which is a song off of my new album that's got a 'straight outta the 90's' vibe. It's cool to play because even though the audience doesn't really know the song yet, everyone still raises their cans with me.
I'm also going to be playing "Middle of the Memory" which is one of my new singles. I actually learned a valuable lesson with this song, because we actually wrote it within another song. I had a song called "Kiss" from my Down Home Sessions EP back in 2014, and as we were singing the line "Girl you left me here with half a beer//In the middle of a memory" we all looked at one another and said, 'That needs to be its own song.' So, my lesson was that sometimes these moments come up and you have to take them as they happen."
On what he's planning to open with: "Probably "Down Home Boys." I love that song, and it reminds me of all my buddies back home. I used to be one of those boys raisin' hell in the crowd, and I know that we're going to have some down home boys at Rock The South. But, I'm not forgetting about the down home ladies! We've got plenty of songs for the country girls, too."
On what being a Southerner means to him: "Being a Southerner is everything I am. I'm so proud to be from the South and to be raised by a family that loves me. They're just good folks, you know? That's what being a Southerner is all about. I've been in Nashville for nine years, but when I'm asked where I'm from, I still say Georgia. It's a part of me. It's my home, and I take great pride in it."
Catch Cole live at Rock The South on Saturday, June 4 at 9:20PM.
The Rock The South country music festival is June 3-4 in Cullman, Alabama. For tickets and additional information, visit rockthesouth.com.