Vidalia – People to Watch 2017


Even if you don’t know who Ronnie Calhoun, Charlie Hugg and Matt Tortorich are, you’ve probably heard their music before.

Their band’s song “Louisianne” plays inside Tiger Stadium before every home game and can frequently be heard at pre-game tailgates across campus. And when they opened for Better Than Eza recently, the trio admits they were amazed at how people reacted to their music.

“People we didn’t even know were looking at us and singing along,” Calhoun says.

“It’s the first project I’ve done where it’s not just your girlfriend and your mom singing along,” Tortorich adds with a laugh. “That’s the best compliment I’ve ever received, to see all these people singing.”

But Baton Rouge crowds aren’t the only ones singing along. The band’s 2014 EP Friday Night Heroes reached No. 11 on iTunes Country Music Albums Chart, and their fall 2016 album Classy Trashy reached No. 24 on the same chart.

When the band got together years ago, they never planned to make chart-toppers.

With Hugg acting as the frontman and lead singer, Calhoun handling the songwriting duties and Tortorich playing various instruments, they saw themselves simply as a group of friends making music together.

Now, that group of friends is looking at possibly touring through the South in 2017, and they’re already working on a third album.

“A lot of people have told us, ‘I don’t even listen to country music, but I love your album,’” Calhoun says. “On country radio, so many people sound alike, but I’m so proud we have our sound. Whether you like it or not, it is our sound.” vidaliamusic.com

Click the thumbnails below to enlarge each photo in the gallery:

On their favorite song they’ve made to date, “Bottle in My Hand”:

“In a lifetime of making songs, you may never get one that will stand the test of time. I think this one is timeless. It’s the best song to ever come out of Ronnie, the best vocal performance to ever come out of Charlie. And I’ve changed each song we’ve done probably 3,000-plus times, but I decided to just let this song be the way it is, raw. If somebody said ‘I’m going to give Vidalia one chance; play me a song,’ I’d play them this song,” Tortorich says.

On hearing their song in Tiger Stadium:

“They could’ve played any song in the world, but they believed in us and our song. … It’s one of the most vulnerable things you can do to write your feelings down, so as a writer, that’s the coolest thing in the world,” Calhoun says.


Write a song

“Don’t think about what the Nashville producers want you to write. If you can make somebody feel a song, then you’ve got a winner on your hands,” Calhoun says.

“You might have a song where you’ve invested a certain amount of time and energy, but don’t be afraid to say, ‘You know what? I’m just going to throw it away and start over. We can do this better,’” Tortorich says.

This article was originally published in the January 2017 issue of 225 Magazine.