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Green Bay investors share in duo's 'Cruise' success

6:18 PM, Feb. 27, 2013  |  Comments
Kurt Voss, far right, and Jim Rivett, second from left, of Green Bay take advantage of a photo opp with Florida Georgia Line's Tyler Hubbard, left, and Brian Kelley at a party last month in Nashville, Tenn., to celebrate the duo's No. 1 hit 'Cruise.'' The song was co-written by Jesse Rice, a songwriter being financially backed by a group of Green Bay investors.
Kurt Voss, far right, and Jim Rivett, second from left, of Green Bay take advantage of a photo opp with Florida Georgia Line's Tyler Hubbard, left, and Brian Kelley at a party last month in Nashville, Tenn., to celebrate the duo's No. 1 hit 'Cruise.'' The song was co-written by Jesse Rice, a songwriter being financially backed by a group of Green Bay investors.
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It doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, but if one of country music's fastest-rising new duos has room for one more geographic location in its name, may we suggest Florida Georgia Green Bay Line?

Tyler Hubbard (of Georgia) and Brian Kelley (of Florida) are the voices and pretty faces behind Florida Georgia Line's debut No. 1 single "Cruise,'' but Titletown played a more stealth role in getting it to the top of the charts.

Twenty investors from Green Bay are helping to financially back Nashville, Tenn., songwriter Jesse Rice, who co-wrote the song - the fastest Billboard Top 10 by a new duo since Brooks & Dunn's "Brand New Man'' in 1991. They'll be among the fans clapping the loudest when the band opens tonight's sold-out Luke Bryan concert at the Resch Center.

It's an unlikely connection that began in 2009 when Green Bay native Sam Brooker, who works as a Nashville singer/songwriter, launched his Artist Revolution publishing company. He came back to his hometown in search of potential investors to back the company's flagship songwriter, Rice. He found 20 of them, including mom Judy Brooker, Kurt Voss, Jim Rivett and Ed Thompson, who would become the board for a venture called Nurture Capital.

The group of investors, all with Green Bay roots and none in the music industry, purchased shares valued at $4,000 each to finance a three-year budget for Brooker's publishing company and its support of Rice. When sales, fees and royalties are generated from Rice's songs, the investors get paid back and get a piece of the net profit from the investment indefinitely.

So when "Cruise'' hit it big on the charts, it was a victory for the local investors, several of which went to Nashville at the end of January for FGL's party to celebrate. Rivett, of Arketype Inc., was right there up in the front row.

"It was just neat to see those guys (Hubbard and Kelley) and get to talk about the process,'' he said. "They're really down to earth.''

The guys had been painting earlier in the day, so Rivett said they showed up in their work clothes, and both had their moms front and center. They posed for photos with the Green Bay contingency and signed some items to send back to benefit Ribbon of Hope, he said. Brooker presented Rice with a new guitar.

Being invited to the celebration of the platinum hit was a sweet reward for Nurture Capital investors, who heard some skepticism from doubters early on.

"A lot of people said, 'You're wasting your money. You're never going to do anything with this,''' said Rivett, noting how fortunate they are to have a song hit in just three years. "It's a business venture, but it's also the power to influence the music scene ... be a patron to the arts.''

Nurture Capital has signed on with Rice for another three years. The arrangement allows him to work full-time as a songwriter, while Brooker's Artist Revolution markets the more than 180 songs in his catalog. That means a lot of networking to shop Rice's songs around, including two "song pluggers'' who go out and promote his music.

It doesn't hurt to have a secret weapon like Brooker in the heart of Music City, Rivett said.

"Sam has a good ear for songwriting, and we trust in him and believe in him,'' he said. "He's doing a good job. We expect more from him.''

Speaking of more, there's talk of Nelly doing a version of "Cruise'' with the duo for release to pop radio this summer, Rivett said. That can only make for more good waves back in Green Bay.

Concert news

It might be the first concert at Oneida Casino presented by PetSmart, but hey, whatever it takes to bring back one of the room's most reliable draws. Poison frontman Bret Michaels returns to the 3 Clans Ballroom at 8 p.m. April 26 for his first show since 2010, when Green Bay Packers players Clay Matthews and A.J. Hawk showed up for the encore.

The reality star debuted his Pets Rock Collection at PetSmart last year (think dog vests, bandanas and dresses with skulls and flames), and he returns to NBC Sunday for the premiere of "All-Star Celebrity Apprentice,'' where he'll compete for his second title.

General-admission tickets are $30 and go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday at the casino, www.oneidacasino.net and Facebook.com/oneidacasino.

Singer/songwriter Gin Wigmore will open for Phillip Phillips May 9 at the Weidner Center. Her "Gravel & Wine" album with producer Butch Walker is already triple platinum in her native New Zealand and comes out in the States on March 19.

Chris Daughtry will play an exclusive acoustic show for WIXX's Studio 101 winners on Wednesday afternoon at the station's atrium, before plugging in for the main event with Three Doors Down that night at the Resch Center.

That two-day Lefty's tribute concert at 9 p.m. April 5-6 will be at Phat Headz, and no cover. How's that for sweet nostalgia?

Thanks for all the great recollections from the old Lefty's crowd. I'll be sharing them closer to the April shows (along with memories from owner Tom Parrott), but among a few keywords that have popped up in the emails: Spooner, "Video Wave,'' Mojo Nixon, Duck Duck Goose, Suburbs and Pat McCurdy and The Men About Town.

Headed to the hall

Green Bay native pat mAcdonald will be inducted into the 2013 Wisconsin Area Music Industry Hall of Fame in April.

mAcdonald, who is most famously known outside of Wisconsin for his 1986 hit "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades'' with the now-defunct Timbuk 3, will be joined by Daryl Stuermer and Yipes as this year's inductees. The ceremony will be part of the WAMI Awards April 14 at Turner Hall Ballroom in Milwaukee.

mAcdonald has performed internationally as a singer/songwriter/instrumentalist. He currently performs on cigar box guitar throughout Northeastern Wisconsin and elsewhere as the duo Purgatory Hill with melaniejane. He's one of the founders of the annual Steel Bridge SongFest in Door County.

He's also known locally for a 1969 incident in which he was expelled from Green Bay West High School because his long hair didn't conform to the school district's dress code. His parents filed a lawsuit and a Brown County judge later ruled he be allowed to return to classes.

Green Bay rock band Annex is among the acts who will be performing at the WAMI Awards, along with De La Buena, The Squeezettes, Klassik, Horseshoes and Hand, The Jimmys and Sexy Ester.

Tickets are $50 VIP, $24.99 general admission and $15 student discount. They go on sale at noon Friday at www.pabsttheater.org and (800) 511-1552.

WAMI Award nominees are expected to be announced in the next week.

What's your take on the Packers Family Night change?

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