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When the Georgia Thunderbolts open for heavy metal/Southern rockers Jackyl at The Signal on Sunday night, Dec. 1, it will be a full-circle moment for Riley Couzzourt, the Thunderbolts' lead guitarist.

"When I was 12 or 13, my uncle introduced me to Jackyl — it was the song with the chainsaw, 'Lumberjack.' We all grew up jamming Jackyl, and we actually did a Jackyl cover a couple of years ago," says Couzzourt in a phone interview from his home in Rome, Georgia.

Couzzourt and Rome drummer Bristol Perry were teammates on the 2014 and 2015 Armuchee High School football teams. Discovering they both played instruments, they started jamming after practices. They recruited bass/keyboard player Zach Everett of Taylorsville, Georgia, to join them just over two years later. Playing their fair share of bars, Couzzourt says that's when they "started making a little money."

Guitarist Logan Tolbert and friend, TJ Lyle, both from Taylorsville, happened to hear the trio play. Lyle was a singer whose only performances to that point had been in church. In 2016, when Couzzourt, Perry and Everett went to audition for a bar gig, they heard Lyle singing and the original three asked Tolbert and Lyle to join.

If you go

› What: Jackyl with the Georgia Thunderbolts and Reched

› Where: The Signal, 1810 Chestnut St.

› When: 8:30 Sunday, Dec. 1

› Admission: $20-$40

› More info: 423-498-4700


Their Southern rock band was complete.

"This is what it's been for three years, and it's what has gotten us this far," says Couzzourt. "This is who we are, and who we will be for years to come."

Couzzourt says the band got its break while opening for the Kentucky Headhunters. Richard Young (guitar/vocals and one of the founders of the Headhunters) watched them play, called them over afterward and asked if they wanted to cut an album. Young became the Thunderbolts' manager.

"We went to Kentucky and cut an album in Barrick's Recording Studio. That album comes out next year," says the guitarist.

After the addition of Lyle and Tolbert, the band's gigs grew from bike rallies to festival and fairs. Young put them onstage with the Kentucky Headhunters, Molly Hatchet, Black Stone Cherry and others.

"We were playing with folks we grew up wishing we could meet. It was freaking great," exclaims Couzzourt. "It's been a blessing working with Richard. He has opened doors for us."

The guitarist says the Georgia Thunderbolts' set on Sunday will be filled with their original music and a couple of covers thrown in the mix.

"We come to deliver rock 'n' roll. We're gonna get up there and rock our hearts out."

Contact Susan Pierce at or 423-757-6284.



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