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Zac Brown Band’s Recipe for Success Includes ‘Amazing Team’

Alexandra Wyman, WireImage

The Zac Brown Band has certainly accomplished a lot since their chart-topping debut single, “Chicken Fried” hit in 2008. The seven-member band, led by Georgia native Zac Brown, has since sold more than four million albums, scored eight No. 1 singles and started their own Southern Ground record label.

But perhaps nothing holds as much personal satisfaction for the group as the launch of their Southern Ground Music and Food Festival — an outdoor event that travels from city to city featuring unique cuisine and music by ZBB and guest artists, including John Mayer, Sheryl Crow, Los Lonely Boys, Gregg Allman, Jerry Douglas and several others. It’s a lot for the band to accomplish but they insist they can’t take all the credit.

“We’ve done it with our amazing team of people,” Zac tells CMT. “They’re able to pull off our ideas. The vision for this thing has been around for a long time. It’s been rattling around in my head, and now it’s been made a reality. We work hard enough to bring the resources to the table to develop it and bring it and to slowly grow it over time. But I want this to be the premier event for quality music and food in Nashville that happens throughout the year.”

The festival played in Music City last month and heads to Charleston, S.C., on Oct. 20 and 21. The band envisions plenty more events in their near future. “We’ve always done this, even on a smaller scale,” says fiddle player Jimmy De Martini. “Years and years ago, Zac had a restaurant that we used to play at on the weekend. Zac would design the menu and feed people and would hire other bands to play there. We’d watch them play, and then we’d play our own set, so it’s kind of the same thing, just on an enormous scale.”

The group, which has mostly been together since the band’s inception in 2002, say that success hasn’t changed them. “We still get along,” notes guitar and keyboard player Coy Bowles. “Nothing’s changed with us. We still have a great time. We’re laughing and still having a great time with each other. Musically, we keep growing as musicians and pushing each other, songwriting-wise. I couldn’t be happier, and I think the rest of the guys [would agree that] it’s a blessing. Plus the fan interaction and Zac’s ideas with the festivals like this allow us to grow as musicians, as well, so everything is just right on track.”

Two recent nominations for CMA awards (in the Vocal Group of the Year and Musical Event of the Year categories), are only the beginning of what the band hopes to accomplish in the future.

“[I'm] trying to gather great people to help, so we all do it together,” Zac notes. “That’s what’s been happening — try to grow it and see what the opportunities are. Other people pull off amazing festivals and events and things like that. I think ours is a little bit different, and that’s what makes us distinct. We’re just getting started. We’re going to be doing this for a long time.”

The Zac Brown Band continues on tour, with shows in Pennsylvania and Virginia coming up this week. See their tour schedule here.

Watch Zac Brown Band Perform Live in Our Studio

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