Zac Brown Band Prep for 2016 Southern Ground Festival, Ever-Changing Summer Tour
Zac Brown Band are looking forward to big things this spring. Between the kickoff of their 2016 Black Out the Sun Tour and April's Southern Ground Music & Food Festival, their fans have plenty to be excited about, too -- especially because audience members will get something different every night.
"It's amazing," Jimmy De Martini tells The Boot. "Every night on stage, every time we get together, there's something new going on ... It's such a thrill that you never know what you're gonna get when you get up there.
"... Each night can be different from the last night," says De Martini. "It's definitely a testament to how well these guys can play; everybody in the band is super pro. It's just fun. It makes it exciting."
Audiences may not know quite what to expect each night on tour, but they're in good company.
"I never know what our setlist is until 30 minutes before we go on stage," John Driskell Hopkins tells The Boot. "We roll out there, and there it is. There's a lot of bands that have laminated setlists ... and that's what they do every night for the tour ... We don't like that at all."
ZBB may not have a new album coming out in the next few months, but fans can still look forward to hearing new music.
"Zac [Brown] has been writing new music," Hopkins mentions. "I'll guarantee you there will be new music on the tour."
The band is also looking forward to something they've become known for in concert: performing cover songs. When it comes to covers, Zac Brown Band take them seriously. De Martini's favorite is "Bohemian Rhapsody," and for their rendition of the Queen classic, the group actually first "recorded all the vocal parts and mashed them together and made sure they sounded right, and then we broke it back off and taught each guy what their vocal part would be, because it's pretty intricate."
"You're gonna hear a lot from our catalog," De Martini promises. "You're gonna hear a lot of new covers."
But before they officially hit the road for their tour, ZBB will host their Southern Ground Music & Food Festival, an annual two-day extravaganza that celebrates great country music and great country cooking. Rusty Hamlin, the band's traveling chef and the cook behind their famous pre-show "eat and greet" sessions, is just one of the chefs who will be responsible for the festival's delicious food.
"A lot of the recipes come from Zac's old family recipes," explains De Martini. "He and Rusty come up with most of the food ... It's always amazing. I don't think I've ever tasted anything he's done and been like, 'No, that's not good enough.'"
When festivalgoers aren't chowing down, they'll be treated to performances by acts such as Zac Brown Band, Kacey Musgraves, Hunter Hayes, Old Dominion, Sam Bush, Cam and many more. ZBB members Coy Bowles & the Fellowship, Clay Cook and Hopkins will also be performing solo sets; even though the solo shows draw smaller crowds than the Zac Brown Band sets, Hopkins enjoys them.
"It is exciting ... to do those other daytime shows, because you get to play songs that Zac Brown Band doesn't play," he says. "It's really unique. I hope that we get to do this forever."
The 2016 Southern Ground Music & Food Festival is scheduled for April 16-17 in Charleston, S.C.; more information is available on the event's official website. ZBB's official website has details about the band's summer trek, which features a few festival dates, including Country Jam 2016 in June.
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