Some country music fans think the Zac Brown Band is and overnight success story. The Little known fact is they they have been working hard for years to build a strong audience and were a successful traveling country folk rock band long before the breakthrough success of their signature song “Chicken Fried.”
Zac Brown has always called Georgia his home and in 2002 Zac Brown put together his version of the band that quickly took on a touring schedule of about 200 dates a year. Each year the band’s following grew thanks to dynamic jam band performances and a focus on true musicianship, solid song choices and dazzling live performance.
In 2003 he released a little know album called “Far From Einstyne” and followed it up with “Home Grown.” Home Grown featured Chicken Fried and Whatever It Is. Two songs that would later make it onto the album “The Foundation” and become major radio hits that continue to be played in heavy rotation to this day.
The band consists of Brown, Jimmy DeMartini, Coy Bowles, Daniel de los Reyes, John Driscoll Hopkins, and Clay Cook. Cook was playing with the Marshall Tucker Band and collaborating with Shaun Mullins and John Mayer prior to joining Brown. Another little known fact according to Wikipedia is that Cook was an addition to the band after the release of Chicken Fried and that he and Brown actually attended and graduated High School together but were not acquainted then.
Zac Brown opened his own southern fried restaurant and music club called “Zac’s Place” with his father in 2004. The joint, located in Lake Oconee, Georgia, was soon sold and Brown took the show on the road. His food obsession is still woven into his material and products as he offers rubs, sauces and food items and highlights culinary delights as part of his current day “Southern Ground Music and Food Festivals” (in Charleston and Nashville).
Brown has also proven to be an entrepreneurial artist launching his own record label (Home Grown) in 2003 and released several independent small batch records under that name. He has created Camp Souther Ground and has his own leather goods production. Later the band got a strong start with mega concert promoter Live Nation when the company dabbled in artist “360” and label deals (larger names like Madonna were inked to deals worth upwards of 120 million over ten years).
The song “Chicken Fried” was originally released to country radio with some early success by the Lost Trailers (who later has the hit Holler Back). In a controversial move Brown pulled the singles rights to the song because he planned to record and release on his own album. The move proved to be a wise one as the song (his debut single) ascended to number one on the country radio charts in November of 2008. It began a string of number ones for the band that made “The Foundation ” a smash and winning the Zac Brown Band a Grammy for Best New Artist in early 2010.
More recently Zac and the Band have branched out into more elaborate touring including a growing music and food festival that features on stage box seats and big name guest appearances.