“Let’s go, Auburn, let’s go! Are we having a good time out here?” exclaimed T.J. Osborne.
A heavy dose of country rolled across Auburn’s campus Friday evening as artists Brothers Osborne and Blane Rudd rocked the night with powerhouse performances.
“Country Rocks the Plains” was presented by the Hudson Family Foundation, an non-profit organization founded by Auburn alumni Tim and Kim Hudson which is dedicated to providing resources to children in “physical, emotional, or financial” need.
A part of A-Day weekend festivities, the free concert on the Student Center Greenspace drew students, alumni, and out-of-town visitors outside on a cool, breezy evening.
“We didn’t even know it was A-Day weekend,” chuckled Amber Swanson, while her daughters, aged 3 and 6, ran around the Greenspace playing with each other. A self-proclaimed country music fan, she said her family was just “walking campus” while in town on a spring break trip and happened across the free event.
The Auburn University cheerleaders, joined by the Tiger Paws, Marching Band and Aubie. kicked off the night at 7pm with a pep rally ahead of tomorrow’s scrimmage in Jordan-Hare, leading the crowd in the fight song and traditional Auburn cheers.
As darkness settled in over the Greenspace, anticipation for the main event started to build as families set up folding chairs and laid down blankets on the grass, students started to claim their spots as close to the front as possible, and lines grew at the Philly Connection and Firetruck Bar-B-Que food trucks parked near the stage.
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“How cool is this tonight?” exclaimed Bruce Pearl to cheers from the crowd as he took the stage halfway through the pep rally, thanking the Hudson Family Foundation for their work helping children in need and Auburn fans for their support of his basketball team’s historic season. “It’s great to be an Auburn Tiger! Let’s have a great time tonight!”
Just minutes later, the music started as country artist Blane Rudd strode onto the stage. “We’re here to get y’all warmed up tonight!” shouted the Opelika native, delivering a 40-minute set that mixed feel-good upbeat country songs with slow ballads.
But some, like incoming freshman Natalie Kirkland from Sylacauga, Ala., couldn’t wait for Brothers Osborne to perform. “I love the Brothers Osborne,” she said, “I love their whole albums, they’re all good. I love the country music experience.”
Despite a slim, yet still growing, crowd, Brothers T.J. and John Osborne took the stage by storm halfway into the night, delivering an energetic performance under the dark sky. “I can’t remember the last time we had this much fun!” T.J. exclaimed between songs.
The country duo showcased their musical range in the first half of their set, opening with upbeat crowd favorites like “Down Home” and “Rum” before seeming to shrink the Greenspace into an intimate setting, as John delivered an instrumental “Amazing Grace” on electric guitar, followed by T.J.’s tender, ballad-like vocals on “21 Summer.”
The brothers segued into more of their hits in the second half of their set, with the crowd waving arms and clapping along to songs such as "Stay A Little Longer" and "Chattahoochee." T.J. asked the audience “We’re gonna jam up here, is that cool with y’all?” before culminating an electric performance of hit single “It Ain’t My Fault.”
The stage lights went down for a moment, but the band quickly returned for an encore of covers, adding their own country twang to “Freebird,” sneaking “I shot a man in Auburn, just to watch him die” into Johnny Cash’s famous “Folsom Prison Blues” and, as a finale, delivering a rendition of “Take Me Home, Country Roads” that had those in the crowd clapping along.
Despite having “never really heard” of Brothers Osborne before Friday night, Kristin Ferguson, sophomore in early childhood education, said she had a great time. “[The experience] was really cool. I really enjoyed it.”
And in the words of Brady Keesee, freshman in applied biotechnology, “I’m always down for a free concert.”
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