October 19, 2013
Charleston, SC USA
Review by Davis Marret
Photos by Davis Marret
Zac Brown Band
Southern Ground Music & Food Festival Oct. 19&20
Zac Brown Graces The Holy City
This year's Southern Ground Festival made its way to the Palmetto state with a cast of talented musicians and some of the region's most cutting edge culinary experts. Twangs of guitars and fiddles and savory smells of bar-b-que and pimento cheese burgers filled Blackbaud Stadium on Charleston's picturesque Daniel Island.
This annual festival has become a favorite for locals of the Holy City and has attracted more than just concert go-ers. Zac Brown has certainly branded his music in a distinctive way that mimics the likes of Jimmy Buffett and Margaritaville. Crowds of people come for the music and leave having learned the history of Jack Daniels Whiskey and signed their kids up for Camp Southern Ground. Whether you came to jam out or just came to people watch and drink Lagunitas, there was something for everyone to enjoy.
Saturday's line up of artists and bands highlighted some of the country's best up and coming bands ranging from Country singer-songwriters to New Orleans funk. Dawes kicked off the day at the main stage and showcased their songwriting and musical skills reminiscent of an early Jackson Browne. One could not help to stomp their feet and feel the funk while Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue tore through horn driven melodies at the main stage. Whether he was slidin' the trombone or blasting away on the trumpet, Shorty really knew how to move the crowd. Over at the Landshark stage, just before the headliners came on, the Wood Brothers wowed the crowd with some of their blues infused acoustics and the title track from their brand new album The Muse.
Zac Brown Band's style of American Country/Folk seemed to fit so naturally in this charming Southern city. Caribbean influenced "Jump Right In" and a knee slappin' "The Wind" got thousands on their feet and moving to the acoustic rhythms of guitars and percussion. It just felt right to have a cold beer in hand during "Toes" which embodied everything ZBB stands for: booze, women, and Country music. For those like myself who could maybe name one or two ZBB originals, he cleverly wove in covers that most all Americans, especially Southerners, love and appreciate. I particularly enjoyed James Taylor's "Carolina on My Mind" and Metallica's "Enter Sandman." Brown ended the night by bringing on fellow Georgian and veteran Jam king John Bell of Widespread Panic. Bell stayed on for 3 tunes including Panic's "Blue Indian," "Ain't Life Grand," and a cover of Bill Withers "Use Me."
Willie Nelson is a cool motherfucker! Any event where he is billed, I want to be there. Opening the hour long set on Sunday afternoon with his classic "Whiskey River" confirmed my belief that Nelson is the most prolific Country music songwriter still alive today. Country music belongs to America, and Nelson created his own genre of it dubbed "Outlaw Country." Up until the 1970s, Country music was pretty conservative and restricted to Southern states most notably Tennessee. Willie helped to change the face of Country music and made it more accessible to people all around our great nation. After a few songs, he busted out his signature red bandana and strummed some more beautiful Country ballads as the sun
shone bright on a perfect Sunday Funday.
South Carolina natives Band of Horses changed the gears of the festival and brought their blend of indie grunge to this Country affair. Adorned with unbuttoned flannels and scruffy beards, they tore through crowd pleasing songs like "The Funeral" and "No One's Gunna Love You," showing their diverse talent and musical prowess. At one point in the show, the lead singer's two young daughters came running out to him to give him hugs in their pink tutu's and ear muffs. One could see the pure joy in his eyes while singing and holding his youngest, and I felt lucky to also be surrounded by my family and people I loved the most in this world. If this festival taught me one thing, it's that the only way to be truly happy is to surround yourself with positive people who make you feel good. And to see live music!!