On Friday, June 24, 2016, the Athens Country Music Showcase was held at The Foundry in downtown Athens, Georgia, to show off local country artists. Jenn Thornton performing at The Foundry. (Photo: Henry Taylor/htaylor@randb.com)

In the words of Scott Brantley, the AthFest country showcase at The Foundry became a honky tonk in the end.

When the final act, Scott Brantley & the Big Cooler Crew took the stage, many from the crowd, which had dwindled in size but not energy by 12 a.m., stood to their feet and danced along to the band’s self-proclaimed “country-country” style.  

With lyrics like “I only love you when you're with him," “Chevy with the pedal to the floor” and “my cooler’s bigger than yours,” all four artists who performed at The Foundry June 24 embraced the ideals of country — love, trucks and beer.  

The venue was small, intimate and offered food, creating an atmosphere for the majority of the night where people mostly sat back, relaxed and enjoyed the start of their weekend.  

But towards the end, with more drinks and some dancing in their system, the country-lovers were shouting for more after Brantley performed his last song, “Good Thing Going.” 

“We’ve got a good thing going, a real good thing going,” the crowd cheered along.

All four artists had ties to Athens, whether that being they had performed in the Classic City before, attended the University of Georgia or, in the case of second act, Patrick Britt, attended North Oconee High School before launching a music career. One of the songs Britt played, “Under These Seats,” referenced the “Broad Street [Dairy Queen]” in Athens.   

“It’s good to be back in Athens,” Brantley said. “Especially with the whole band. We don't get to do that often.”

The space provided by The Foundry for the AthFest country music showcase was special, as the majority of AthFest performances support local, alternative artists, but there is just as much of a strong country music scene in Athens as there are other types of music. The artists thanked the venue several times for hosting the special event.   

All three artists played a mix of covers and originals, some acts focusing on one more than the other. Britt, who originally said he would play mostly his own work, ended up performing a few covers to give the crowd songs to sing along to.

“I’m throwing a lot of songs that you probably won’t know at you,” Britt said. “But you’re going to like them.”

Contrastingly, Jobe Fortner did not play an original song until he was about five songs into his performance. The song — rich, passionate and a crowd favorite — was worth the wait.

Fortner said the name of his original piece was “Georgia,” and he had composed it about a girl who attended Georgia Southern University who had broken his heart. 

“A girl broke my heart,” he said. “That happens a lot everybody...so I moved to Nashville, Tennessee.”

In the song, Fortner foreshadowed the topic Jenn Thornton would sing about an hour later — moving from Georgia to Nashville.

Although her song “Roll With It” did not include a heartbreak, it did comment on the challenges faced by up-and-coming artists, which all of the first three acts were.  

Thornton said she moved from Georgia to Wyoming before she ended up in Nashville, where she works on music now.

“You never know where you are going to go,” she said.

Several of the growing artists’ new songs were introduced last night, including one Fortner said he had only performed twice prior to his act at The Foundry.

“I wrote this song about two weeks ago with some buddies of mine,” he said.

Britt encouraged the audience to seek out his latest music video for his song “Under These Seats,” which will air for the first time on Facebook June 26, and Fortner asked people to follow him on social media — as most young artists looking for footholds to continue their careers do.

Fortner said he would have more new music out soon, and his fans could find that music by following him on social media.

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