Known to many people for its rich music scene, Athens is equally known for its excessive party culture. For Nashville-based singer and songwriter Bobby Cool, Athens is personally remembered for both.
Like many students who first enter the University of Georgia, handling the city’s over-the-top nature was difficult for Cool.
“When I first got to college, I was just immersed in the party scene and got in trouble, got arrested a couple of times and really was kind of spiraling downhill,” Cool said.
During his time at UGA, Cool encountered both music performance and religion at around the same time.
This was the beginnings of laying out an influence for his future career as a singer and songwriter.
“For the first couple years of college, I just played [guitar] in the dorm room or apartment and just started learning songs, but being immersed in the Athens music scene … I caught the bug and wanted to do it. So junior year I played my first show,” Cool said. “About the same time I started playing music live, God was just doing a lot of things, putting a lot of people in my life.”
Cool continued to perform around Athens for the rest of his UGA career, but his real entrance into the music scene didn’t happen until he moved to Tennessee for unrelated reasons.
“I graduated in December 2008 and moved to Nashville in January 2009 and really then began my education in the music industry,” Cool said. “I was working for an insurance company at the time, but was playing and writing and meeting a lot of people.”
The musical style that Cool developed in his new home isn’t much of a surprise — country. Cool’s style, however, isn’t necessarily what people generally think of when the word “country” is used as a musical adjective. Cool takes influence from both the Nashville scene and other Southern genres.
“The way that I’ve been describing it is ‘rootsy-country,’” Cool said. “But, there are totally influences of singer songwriter, some rock ‘n’ roll influences.”
Cool’s upcoming debut album, “Light In The Dark,” is titled after what he feels represents his change in lifestyle.
Though it lyrically features a religious aura, Cool’s upcoming release wouldn't fit among gospel and other Christian recordings, being a secular album with religious influences
“Specifically, no — it definitely is not a religious album,” Cool said. “But, if you’re looking for it, there are gospel undertones.”
More than simply an artist on stage singing to a crowd, Cool’s live shows are a constant intercommunication between himself and the audience — and that’s exactly how Cool likes it.
“I would say its very high energy — a lot of interaction, a lot of back and forth, give and take with the crowd,” Cool said. “Thats what I enjoy most is playing and interacting with the crowd. That’s where I kind of get my kick.”
Though Cool developed himself musically in Nashville, he hasn’t forgotten where his roots lie in the field and his beginnings in his style of music began.
Cool is looking forward to his upcoming return to Athens, but his final goal regarding his venue of choice has yet to be met, as he has his eyes set on one of Athens' premier venues.
“Athens is where I learned to play music, it’s where I fell in love with the idea of pursuing music as a career and its home. Every time I go back it’s just like a breath of fresh air,” Cool said. “I’m dreaming about the day when I get to play the Georgia Theatre.”
He hasn't reached his dream venue yet, but he’s taking the first steps.