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NEW ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Zac Brown Band
By Bob Doerschuk   © 2009 CMA Close Up® News Service / Country Music Association®, Inc.

On one wall in the Zac Brown Band’s rehearsal space, there’s a whiteboard covered with details of their many upcoming gigs. On another, the group has scrawled the titles of their favorite songs between a Bob Marley banner and framed pictures of Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson.

This décor mirrors the band’s work ethic and reverence for Country, cooled by an occasional tropical breeze. Those musical influences ring throughout “Toes,” which opens The Foundation, produced by Keith Stegall and Brown and released on Atlantic Records/Home Grown/Big Picture. The laid-back vibe, gently ticking drums and Tex-Mex flavor of the choruses says that these guys know what the good life is and where to find it.

But that’s just where it starts for Brown, a deft guitarist and expressive singer, guitarist/organist Coy Bowles, multi-instrumentalist Clay Cook, fiddler Jimmy De Martini, drummer Chris Fryar and bassist John Driskell Hopkins.

Elements of bluegrass, gospel and Southern rock take their turn on all 12 tracks, 11 written or co-written by band members. For example, their first single, “Chicken Fried,” penned by Brown and Wyatt Durrette, extols the “sweet tea, pecan pie and homemade wine” back home in Georgia with a nostalgia that would coax even a Northerner to smile.

After performing extensively as a solo artist, Brown assembled his band in Atlanta and took them on a trip that’s led them to open for B. B. King, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Sugarland and Travis Tritt, among others. For all the mileage they’ve charted on that whiteboard, it only hints at where they’re going from here.

MUSICAL HERO
“Willie Nelson.”

CD IN YOUR STEREO
“Gossip in the Grain, by Ray LaMontagne.”

FAVORITE FOOD ON TOUR
“Sushi.”

LUCKY CHARM
“The necklace that my wife made for me.”

DREAM DUET PARTNER
“James Taylor.”

SOMETHING WE’D NEVER GUESS ABOUT YOU
“I barter and trade a lot. I trade guitars and tools on Craigslist, I traded a VW bus for a Scout and dump truck and I once traded a Jeep for two guitars and an amplifier.”

WHAT YOU’D BE IF YOU WEREN’T AN ARTIST
“A chef or a knife maker.”

INFLUENCES
“A hybrid of rock, soul, Country, bluegrass and reggae.”

HOMETOWN
“Zac Brown Band is from the Atlanta, Ga. area.”

(ANSWERS PROVIDED BY ZAC BROWN)

 

Related Links:
Official Website  
MySpace Site

 

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