In the little sleepy town of Tifton, Georgia a music venue/bar sits next to an old town bakery and is less than ten minutes away from small college Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, or ABAC.
It opened its doors in March of 2010 and was originally a three hundred max capacity space. In the beginning they weren’t sure how the live music thing would go. “No one took us seriously when it came to that,” owner JD Groover said. But over time that definitely changed. This venue will surprise you. Yes, it is in a small town in South Georgia but the list of alum and major artists who have remained loyal and still come to play there will blow you away. There’s a lot of history there. Friendships have been made, business has been done, killer shows have been played and loyalty from those rising artists has stayed intact. The Gin is one of those places that believes in these new and young artists and gives them a stage to play on with continuous support. Heavy hitters such as Cole Swindell, The Cadillac Three, Old Dominion, Sam Hunt, Chase Rice, and Jon Pardi to name a few will talk highly of The Gin. As will on deck artists who are right on the edge of taking over like Luke Combs, Jon Langston, Jordan Rager, and Jacob Davis. “Every good story starts with ‘This one night at The Gin.’ Rhett Akins came down to my show one time and we sang ‘That Ain’t My Truck’ together and that’s one of my favorite memories,” Jon Langston said.
Over time word has spread through country music about this place and the waiting list to get in to play goes on and on. There’s two definite reasons why that is. The first being who all has played there over the years. Chase Rice’s first gig in Georgia was at The Gin. Sam Hunt had his showcase for Universal there. Florida Georgia Line played there and two weeks later “Cruise” hit the radio waves. The Gin hosted a Whiskey Jam show and has an annual “Gin Jam”. And now with the next wave of new up and coming artists like Jon Langston, Luke Combs, Muscadine Bloodline, Travis Denning, Cale Dodds, Cole Taylor, and (way) more, it’s like history is repeating itself. The second reason being that Groover’s motto is “Happy staff, happy bands, happy customers”, and that is what that team has down to a science. Now it is an eight hundred max capacity room with a Grade A staff plus an always growing show schedule. Heath Cox, the owner and promoter of The Gin as well as other popular venues Bluewater Saloon in Valdosta, Georgia and Dillinger’s in Americus, Georgia said “As the Promoter of The Gin and also the only other one being there to watch it grow from day one, I can truly say its been on honor to serve the great city and community of Tifton. The Gin in itself has evolved from the small town South Georgia bar into one of the bigger venue names around the state and we take TREMENDOUS pride in that! We love our little corner of the state as well as our staff that has helped us out through every step along the way. I’ve had the honor of booking and working with acts that have done some of their earlier career shows as they come up through the bar and honky tonk circuit. Chase Rice, Sam Hunt, Tyler Farr, Cole Swindell, Cadillac 3, Parmalee, Florida Georgia Line and A Thousand Horses, just to name a few! From the bottom of our hearts we thank you Georgia for the recognition and love you have given us over the years and look forward to another 20 years ahead! Cheers!”
The Gin is almost like a good luck charm. Sure, there are more venues that all these artists play and more, but this one just feels special. Joe’s Bar in Chicago has set a good example for The Gin and Groover says he looks up to the people that make that venue run the way it is. Coyote Joes in Charlotte, NC is another example of a venue that JD strives to make The Gin become legendary like. I think it is well on its way to becoming so, if not already. It’s one of those places that if you have a Bucket List of venues you want to hit, it needs to be on there.
Check out these photos to see some of the memories made down there in Tifton, Georgia. And remember, The Gin always wins.
Rhett Akins & Jon Langston
Drake White & The Big Fire
Florida Georgia Line
Travis Denning, Jon Langston, JD Groover, Cole Taylor & Jordan Rager
Whiskey Riff is the most entertaining country site…ever.