Tom Beaupre measures time in tours, rather than years.
Beaupre has been the bass player for Florida Georgia Line’s touring band for the past five years. You can almost see him
mentally converting tours to years when asked about the number of shows he’s played with the country duo.
“We did 256 shows in 2013. Last year it was 160 to 170 and in the first 66 days of this year, I was on the road for 57,” says Beaupre ’06, who married his sweetheart, Jessica, last December.
Florida Georgia Line’s 2012 album Here’s to the Good Times is double platinum and last year’s Anything Goes is already gold. Composed of Florida-native Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard of Georgia, the country duo is burning up highways, as well as charts.
Nine buses and a handful of semis roll through the wee morning hours from venue to sold-out venue. And when the band takes the stage at 9 p.m., Beaupre is on stage left in the lights and smoke, laying down the bass for crowds numbering in the thousands.
Beaupre’s love of music comes a long way from dazzling stages and rock (or country) music stardom. It comes from a third-grade music fair where, among the trumpets, saxophones and flutes, he saw an upright bass.
“I loved it, the feel of it, the sound of it.” Lessons followed. In middle school, the bass was turned on its side and electrified … the band Green Day figures into Beaupre’s recollection of these years. Guitar lessons followed in high school and college.
He went to Bloomsburg to study business, but switched majors to music, studying jazz, theory and classical guitar. He played open mics. His pop punk group, William West, won BU’s battle of the bands one year.
And long before he played Dirt on the country music stage, he played upright bass for Wagner’s Die Meistersingers with the Bloomsburg University-Community Orchestra.
An open mic gave Beaupre the first clue that this could be a career. “We must have been playing the right covers, because the audience kept calling for more. I thought, ‘Yeah, I could do this.’
“My professors encouraged me to shoot for the stars,” says Beaupre. Instead of looking for recording internships close to home in Paoli, he sent dozens of applications to Nashville, and he landed one at Emerald Studios.
After graduation, Beaupre worked for about a year for newspapers in the Paoli area and doing music gigs on weekends. Bigger stages beckoned. Beaupre took a chance and moved to Nashville.
He tuned pianos, served lattes at Starbucks, gigged on weekends and lived with roommates, who included Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard. Hubbard and Kelley formed Florida Georgia Line in 2010, bringing a rock attitude to country music. Beaupre had kept his chops sharp and was a natural fit for backing the duo live.
“In the summer of 2011, the band manager said, ‘Get ready to not be home much.’ That was the first time I was
paying all of my bills with music.”
Things were happening, and fast.
Florida Georgia Line opened for well-known country artists Jake Owen (2012), Luke Bryan (2013) and Jason Aldean (2014) and 11 dates for singer/songwriter Taylor Swift in 2013. They began headlining their own tours, as well, in 2013.
After the intensity of playing a show, he keeps himself busy in the downtime on the road by working out, reading and
playing golf, like many of his bandmates. If you see Beaupre with earbuds, there’s a good chance he’s listening to NPR.
“Every camp is different,” says Beaupre. “Camp” is music industry lingo for the group of people involved in a particular tour. “We’ve got a family-oriented setup here. No one’s chasing women or doing drugs. We’re all husbands trying to make a living for our families.
“This is the best of all worlds,” says Beaupre. “Brian and Tyler have so much to do … interviews with media, radio
stations and fans. We’ve got a job to do and that is to make sure those two guys have a great-sounding band every night. It’s a great job.
“I lived with them for two years and they’re awesome, down-to-earth. They’re my boss and my friends. They’re my friends first.” l
Eric Foster is photography editor
for Bloomsburg: The University