by Adam Gold
Just imagine taking Jimmy Buffett from a Florida beach to a mountain lake, having it compliment his sound and add a little tact to his aesthetic, and you’d have the Zac Brown Band. Brown & Co.’s fourth studio effort, Uncaged, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart this week, and that’s a good thing.
As far as big-box contemporary country is concerned, the ZBB is a rare outfit with a distinguishable, idiosyncratic identity, and one that you can actually respect. The Atlanta septet thinks past the formulaic Music Row assembly-line mentality to include elements of jam and Southern rock, Caribbean and bluegrass, standing head-and-shoulders above a flat landscape of cookie-cutter MOR crap like Eric Church, Trace Adkins and Moby Teeth.
The dynamic diversity of the band’s influences and appeal, in addition to its love for delicious food, is well represented in its festival’s lineup, which will feature Americana troubadour Amos Lee, the worldly funk-fused folk of Michael Franti and Spearhead, indie-rock-for-mainstream-listeners Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Austin’s Los Lonely Boys (not a Black Keys tribute band), The Lumineers, dobro master Jerry Douglas and popsmith David Gray, along with John Driskell Hopkins and Brighter Shade, The James Arthur Band and Coy Bowles and the Fellowship.
The Zac Brown Band will headline both nights of the festival with special guest-rife “super sets” that will feature Greg Allman and others. Rounding out the bill is a handful of artists plucked from the roster of Brown’s Southern Ground records, including Blackberry Smoke, Nic Cowan, Dugas, Sonia Leigh, Levi Lowrey and The Wheeler Boys.
The South Cackalacky Southern Ground event boasts a vastly different lineup that includes The Avett Brothers, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, The Charlie Daniels Band and The Wailers. More info and tickets for both installments are available here.
As for the food, concert-goers can chow down on fare from Zac Brown Band’s tractor trailer-sized mobile kitchen (and slather it in Brown’s famous Southern Ground Grub GA Clay Spice Rub and Brown Sauce), in addition to eats from a smorgasbord of local restaurants.