They've been playing for a couple of years, and now they're beginning to stir up some noise. The local band 17 South was recently named the Georgia Country Band of the Year for 2008 by Atlanta Country Music.com out of 25 nominated bands.
"We love what we do," said lead guitarist Chris Powers. "And we're just trying to take it to the next level. ... I guess we're making a lot of noise. â€¦ It means a lot to us that so many people voted for us."
The band was co-winners in the contest sponsored by the ACM website, which provides news, events and resources for country music fans in Georgia.
Allen Coefield, the senior editor for ACM, said the winners are selected by both readers' and staff votes. The staff bases their selections on recent CD quality and popularity, media relations of the artist, the number of and quality of performances, and how well the band represents the state of Georgia.
"We use the same standards in each of our contests and this is one reason people respect the outcome more so than any other contest on the internet," Mr. Coefield said in an email. "The sad - and I do mean sad - part is that there cannot be more than one winner. ... We have to let the readers have a major say via their votes in who wins because there is no way we can determine one over the other. ... It's fun, yes ... helpful ... yes. But easy? Not in a million years."
This is the first year the contest ended in a tie, with 17 South sharing the first-place spot with DeepStep, a band from Dublin. Mr. Powers said their general manager, Adam Hubbard, and Danielle Donnally and Amy Adams with Nside-Out Entertainment, had a big part in the band's exposure and promotion.
"It's a collective effort from the whole team," Mr. Powers said. "And with so many awesome bands in Georgia, to even be considered in the running for the award was an honor in itself. But to actually get voted, I mean, that's huge for us."
The prestige has provided some new exposure for the band, earning them a gig at the famous Georgia Theater in Athens and the ACM Opry, as well as playing just past Atlanta in Canton.
"A lot of good things have come out of it," Mr. Powers said. "It seems like every time things seem to get a little bit slow, something happens that is another step in the positive direction. It's up and down."
Five of the band members - lead guitar player and vocalist Chris Powers, bass player Jake Jacobs, drummer Johnnie Brantley, back-up singer Robbie Ansley and acoustics player Bart Ficzere - are all from Thomson. Mr. Cannon is from Moultrie and rhythm guitar player Ed Gaskill is from Harlem.
"The cool thing about this group is it's a group and everybody is an equal part in the band," Mr. Powers said. "Everybody adds their own little piece to it, and if you take that piece away, it's not going to be the same. We're a team. We're a family, and we're all pretty tight with each other."
In the next couple of months, the band will perform in Thomson at the Chamber of Commerce event, Denim and Diamonds, on April 11, and at Amigo's on April 24 and May 3. They are also scheduled at the Columbia Amphitheatre in Evans to open for Luke Bryan and Lady Antebellum on April 27, and at the Country Club in Augusta on May 5 and May 15.