We all know the Cole Swindell backstory, right? He met Luke Bryan through their Sigma Chi fraternity at Georgia Southern University, and then when Swindell moved to Nashville to chase his neon rainbow, one of his first jobs was selling the merch at Bryan’s shows.
So in 2008, when Bryan put on his very first farm concert in Claxton, Georgia for about 2,200 people, Swindell was there on the sidelines selling t-shirts.
But by 2012, Swindell was on the stage.
“I remember that first show, because it was just me and Joel (Hutsell) on guitar. We did ’Chillin’ It,’ but that was my only song and it hadn’t been released yet. I didn’t have a record deal or a band or anything. Me and Joel just played cover songs,” Swindell told me before he opened for Bryan at the Marshall, Wisconsin Farm Tour stop on Sept. 26.
“But this whole thing has come such a long way. I never dreamed of playing in a town this small, but this is so unique because being out here is one of those things where I feed off the crowd. Always. And I know it’s special to Luke and it’s special to me that we get to do this together.”
“And this part of the Midwest has always been so good to us. These are some of our best shows.”
There’s also another perk for Swindell: The Peach Pickers. Rhett Akins, Dallas Davidson, and Ben Hayslip always come out to the Farm Tour shows to warm up the crowd with their extensive setlist of country songs they’ve written for stars like Bryan, Blake Shelton, Brooks & Dunn, Josh Turner, Joe Nichols and more. So during the downtime on tour, Swindell has the chance to write with the Pickers.
“That’s crazy for me because those are The Guys. They wrote the songs that made me want to move to town,” he told me. “And tonight, they’ll play all the songs I wish I’d written.
“I can’t explain how much I wanted to write songs, before I even thought about getting a record deal. I looked up to the Peach Pickers and I fell in love with the songwriting thing. Now it’s full circle for me.”
The Farm Tour continues on Oct. 3 in Louisburg, Kansas, with additional stops scheduled for Douglass, Kansas on Oct. 4 and Norman, Oklahoma on Oct. 5.
While Swindell didn’t grow up farming, he was all around it when he was a kid. Cotton, peanuts, corn, soybeans: you name it, they farmed it. And he estimated that his family’s convenience store had a customer base of about 90 percent farmers. He even went back to that small town of Bronwell, Georgia to film his brand new video for “Right Where I Left It.”