Concert Reviews

Zac Brown Band Chips Away At Bucket List At Madison Square Garden

“It’s a big night for us. Playing Madison Square Garden has definitely been on our list of things to do,” Zac Brown said during the band’s Eat & Greet Saturday night in New York.

Before Zac Brown Band took the stage for their sold-out concert they served food and mingled with 150 fans. A testament to their growing success, the band continuously thanked everyone for their support.

The Eat & Greet was just one way to show their gratitude Saturday night. The other was a commanding two-hour set that spanned their catalog of hits and jaw-dropping covers from Nirvana, Aerosmith, Metallica, Van Morrison, the Marshall Tucker Band and the Charlie Daniels Band. Whether it was cover songs or their original music, Zac Brown Band showcased their signature sound and standout musicianship with minute long instrumental features and unyielding energy.

For my complete review, visit Billboard.

Artist of the Week Band of the Week Concert Reviews

Artist of the Week: Nic Cowan

His first time playing in New York Tuesday, you’d never be able to tell as the Atlanta-based artist captivated everyone in the room as if it was his hometown crowd.

Nic Cowan kicked off the night with the energetic first track on his recent release, Hardheaded. His raspy vocals and smooth instrumentals on “Get Me Going” was a welcomed introduction to his set. The edgy “Wrong Side” followed suit with soaring keyboard features and a R&B meets jam band vibe.!

“Thank you for making it feel like home to some Southern boys,” Cowan told the packed venue.

While “I Won’t Let Go” showcased Cowan’s more sensitive side with slowed vocals and acoustic guitar, the bluesy “Sun Dress” picked up the pace with soulful vocals. Seductive rhythms embodied the track with a slow rap feature and solid instrumental interludes throughout.

After debuting a new track on ukulele, Cowan got personal with the room while he introduced “Reno.” Inspired by an artist he met on the beach pursuing his dream of painting, Cowan advised, “Whatever’s inside of you, in your gut, do that.”

The poignant song silenced the room with delicate string features and acoustic guitar as Cowan’s wavering singing style had everyone in a trance.

Having toured with Zac Brown Band, Cowan said “Illumination” was inspired by their bus breaking down during the tour. Giving Cowan time to slow down and simply look at the stars he confessed, “I realized I never stop and look up at the sky and appreciate it all.”

A song about searching and questioning, a heart-pounding drum beat and atmospheric music accompaniment kept the audience intrigued throughout the remainder of the set. Last song, aptly titled “The Island Song” transported the venue to a warmer place. With Bob Marley-esque rhythms and a tie into Marley’s “One Love” to which the audience sang along word for word, Cowan and his band ended their set unplugged.

“This is such a small, intimate space I feel like I’m in my living room,” Cowan admitted. “It’s cold as hell up here. We’re from Atlanta so we’re going to try and warm it up a bit,” he said before he introduced “The Island Song.”

So, what better way to close the night with a sing along? The stripped down performance had concertgoers dancing and singing with the help of banjo, ukulele and maracas. With such a warm welcome at his first NYC performance, Cowan will no doubt be back soon.

For more on Nic Cowan, visit his Website and listen to his tracks below.

Features News

Zac Brown Launches Southern Ground Music and Food Festival

Country singer Zac Brown thinks something major is missing from the concert experience.

“The normal fare at a concert is a pretzel, a hot dog or a dry pack of corn chips with some Cheese Whiz. Why not be eating something amazing while you’re watching something amazing?” the frontman of the Zac Brown Band says. “In the South you’re always gathering around the food. I really think we can extend that experience all over.”

That’s the former chef and restaurant owner’s goal for the three-day Southern Ground Music & Food Festival, which runs October 21st through 23rd at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, South Carolina. Two hundred fans will sit onstage and eat a gourmet meal while the band performs a few feet away.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to enhance the concert experience and really give ’em the full sensory overload,” Brown says. “Our goal is to redefine and put all the elements of the South into this festival: the hospitality, the food, the music.”

For my complete article, visit Rolling Stone.

Features News

CMT to Air "Artists of the Year" Special December 3

Tomorrow night, CMT will honor Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood and Zac Brown Band as the top artists of the year in a 90-minute special. Hosted by Kevin Costner, CMT’s  “Artists of the Year,” premiers at 8:00 p.m., ET.

Taped in Nashville, “Artists of the Year” will bring the honorees together with their peers for an evening of performances from the country world and beyond. Tune in for surprise guest appearances by Joe Perry, Maroon 5, Adele, Amos Lee and more!

This year’s acts were chosen by ranking the top five artists based on the following criteria: sales, country radio airplay, concert grosses, and activity on The rankings were then compiled to identify the leading performers across the four categories cumulatively.

Watch a preview of tomorrow night’s special below.

Related Links:
Q&A with Lady Antebellum
Q&A with Taylor Swift
Q&A with Zac Brown Band
Q&A with Jason Aldean
Song of the Week Videos

Song of the Week: “Free”

As Fourth of July weekend approaches, what better way to kick off the festivities then to salute our troops and remember why we’re all here? Watch Zac Brown Band’s emotional performance of “Free” below.


Festivals Interviews

Zac Brown Band

Of all the bands that performed at 2009’s CMA Music Festival, I was most impressed with Zac Brown Band. Their stage show is dynamic and their musical interludes bring reference to both classic jam bands and rock & roll groups. While they’re most often placed in the country genre, don’t let that fool you — Zac Brown Band know how to rock more than most groups out there today.

I sat in on their interview at last year’s CMA press conference and was amazed at the band’s humility and dedication to fans. Read below to find out about the band’s hit single, “Chicken Fried,” and why CMA Music Festival is so important to them. Be sure to catch Zac Brown Band live tonight on “Late Show With David Letterman.”

You were at Bonnaroo and are now at CMA Music Fest. With two big events in Tennessee, can you tell us what has gone on at each?
Last night [at Bonnaroo] was amazing. Just an amazing night and amazing fans. We were able to pull out all of our other styles that we do and played 100 minutes. Tonight’s going to be amazing as well. There’s 70,000 people out there and a lot of these folks we’ve never played in front of before, so we have the chance to blow them away.

You recorded a song at Kid Rock’s studio. How was that?
We had an amazing day in Detroit. We played Hoedown for between 300,000 and 400,000 people there. Kid Rock came and sat in with us during our show and we ended up hanging out with Willie Nelson on his bus for a while after that. Sat in with Willie Nelson that night. Then, at midnight, went back to his house at his studio. We actually woke up a couple of the guys from sleeping and recorded this new song that we’re working on and it’s called “Colder Weather.” It’s actually my favorite song that we have ever written.

Did you ever imagine “Chicken Fried” would do so well?
We all had a feeling because we used to play around a lot. We played for five years together as a band, just playing in bars and small clubs and the amount of people that kept showing up and requesting that song. A lot of the songs we played were originals that they liked. But, especially with “Chicken Fried,” it was a show stopper. People went crazy. We had a little bit of an idea, but when you see it all come about and the rest of the country realize how much they love the song, it was pretty surprising as well.

I heard Alan Jackson was pitched “Chicken Fried” first. How do you think things would have gone if he cut it instead of you? What single would you have put out first instead? (video below)
I was excited to find that he found the song and wanted to do it. We share the same producer. I was honored. Anything he wants to cut of mine, he’s welcome to cut. He’s a legend. I think career wise, it was a little bit challenging at first when we put “Chicken Fried” out because the only thing people knew about us was that song so we were the chicken band. So now, I’m glad we have other singles coming out now. We’re not so much the chicken band, people are realizing we have more than just that song.

You said in an article that you’d love to put out two albums a year. Do you have other ways to get all that creativity out there before they accumulate so much?
We’re doing a live DVD and double CD in October. We’re going to be recording in Fox Theatre in Atlanta and that’s going to have a bunch of the new songs on it. Our creative outlet is that we write at a much faster pace than we could even arrange the stuff as a band, much less release it for the fans. We’re going to be on track to do one studio record and one or two live CD’s a year so we can have an outlet to do these kinds of things. We have so many songs and we’re always writing along the road so we’re going to figure it out. Even Brad Paisley, having four number ones in a year is an amazing pace to be able to continue and have four songs released and recorded out there and be able to do it, it’s definitely a challenge. But as more as the singles are getting out there, the awareness of the record itself has been there and there are people in towns that we don’t even know that know words to all our other songs so we’re very blessed.

What makes CMA Festival special to you guys compared to other festivals?
It’s our way to give back to the fans because we realize that we wouldn’t have our life in music if they didn’t buy our music and buy a ticket to come see us play. We try and have as many meet and greets and signings as we can on the road. Essentially [CMA Fest] is one giant meet and greet. A chance to give back to those people and make new acquaintances with them and to let them know that they’re really our bosses and our fan base that allows us to have our lives the way they are. We’re very blessed to do what we love to do and to make a living doing that. All the fans are responsible for that.


Related Links:
Q&A; with Brad Paisley
CMA 2009: Six Artists to Watch
Friday Song Addiction: Country Music Edition
You Sing I Write’s Top 5 CMA Week Songs
Festivals Q&A

Poll of the Week: Which CMA 2009 Interview Do You Want to Read?

This week is country music week on You Sing I Write. I’ll be attending Lady Antebellum, Laura Bell Bundy and Taylor Swift concerts throughout the week and figured it makes perfect sense to introduce you to some up-and-coming country acts too. Stay tuned to Twitter for live reporting and recaps of each show!

As far as this week’s poll, I have some press room interviews of last year’s CMA Music Festival that I haven’t gotten up on the blog yet and I want to know which one you’re dying to read. I’ll transcribe the artist that gets the most votes for you the end of the week. (And, if you’re lucky maybe the rest next week!)

Which CMA 2009 Interview Do You Want to Read?

Jason Aldean
Luke Bryan
Reba McEntire
Zac Brown Band
Need You Now