Saturday, March 12, 2011

Zac Brown: Ahead of His Time

I'd like to pose a question to everyone for your consideration: Is there a more relevant, clever, talented and smart performer and artist around today than Zac Brown? It seems to me the founder and leader of the Zac Brown Band is so far ahead of his time that it escapes conventional explanation. Either that, or this is one lucky dude who has the Midas touch these days. Personally, I believe it's the former rather than the latter, by a wide margin.

Since their 2008 debut on a national stage with "The Foundation", which spawned such hits as "Chicken Fried", "Toes" and "Free", the Band has released two live albums ("Pass the Jar", "Live From Bonnaroo") and has released a follow-up studio album, 2010's "You Get What You Give." This latest release has already netted the band their sixth straight number one single, the wonderful duet with Alan Jackson "As She's Walking Away" (which, FYI, also scored the Best Country Song award at this year's Grammy's). The Zac Brown Band is on an unbelievable roll right now ... but the roll doesn't stop there.

When I say that Zac Brown is ahead of his time, I don't believe I'm making it up. Everything this gentleman touches right now is turning to gold. Perhaps it's because he started out owning his own restaurant, which provided the avenue for the Band to hone their skills, gather their following and eventually find their way to the rest of North America. This no doubt gave him the smart business sense and enabled him to realize that there is a different way to do things in the music business. Exhibit A would be the recently launched record label Southern Ground Records, helmed by none other than, Zac Brown.

The artist roster is an eclectic mix of mainstream country and Americana artists and musicians. With The Zac Brown Band as the flagship artist, expect big things from this independent label which appears to celebrate great music, artistry and, something completely different, good food! Paying homage to his chef roots, Zac Brown has made southern cuisine a big part of the Zac Brown Band and Southern Ground Records experience. The food part is serious business for these guys ... Littlejohn Coliseum at Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina, is the site of the inaugural Zac Brown's Southern Ground Music and Food Festival. The Festival will feature cuisine and concessions created by Brown himself and the bands' chef Rusty Clay; and the music will be provided by the Southern Ground label roster, with the Zac Brown Band playing 2 of 3 nights.

It's exciting times for all of the artists on Southern Ground. In addition to the Zac Brown Band, the label roster consists of Nic Cowan, Sonia Leigh, Levi Lowery, The Wood Brothers, and one of my personal favorites, Blackberry Smoke. According to the Southern Ground web site, you can log on to Sonia Leigh's web site for a free download of the single "My Name is Money." I'm looking forward to learning more about the artists on this record label and exploring more of their music in the coming weeks and months.

Exciting times indeed for Zac Brown and the Zac Brown Band. Keep an eye on these guys ... I predict that this will be the most important country music group for the next 20 years in terms of their longevity, outreach, business sense and influence.

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