Clay Cook of the Zac Brown Band has been in the music industry for a long time, starting with a band out of Tucker High School in Georgia called Avant Garde. Clay had a lot less facial hair back then...and I have pictures to prove it!

Clay Cook and I grew up down the road from each other.  We attended Smoke Rise Elementary School together, we were on the clogging team together (I know....there's video of that somewhere in my basement probably).  Then we both ventured to Tucker High School.

That's where Avant Garde was started.  My brother wasn't in the band, but helped write some of their first songs...  That's laughable to me, sorry bro :)

However, Clay Cook played lead guitar.  The band would play at the local neighborhood pool or maybe someone's birthday party.  And they were pretty good!

Clay Cook

Yep!  That's Clay Cook from waaaaaay back when!

Avant Garde

And the rest of the band...  From the left - Tommy Chung, Grant Duffy, Keith Bouchard and Phil Carey.  Phil and my brother are still best friends to this day.

While I was in Atlanta last week, my family and I were going through old pictures and we came across these.

I found a few from my childhood that I will not post.... :)

Clay Cook is obviously the most successful person to come out of Smoke Rise Elementary School.  He's played and written songs with John Mayer, Sugarland, The Marshall Tucker Band (his uncle has been a member of Marshall Tucker for a long time) and Shawn Mullins.  And now he's super successful with Zac Brown Band as well as a solid solo career.

I'll be there to cheer on the pride of Smoke Rise, Georgia! And maybe show him these old pictures :)

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