Zac Brown‘s Southern Ground Festival rolled into Music City this past weekend, offering a little something for everybody – and not just music.
A wide array of craftsmen were present both days, selling their wares, as were an impressive number of regional chefs who cooked for the masses that showed up. If you wanted a little bit of an amusement park feel, there was the giant Ferris wheel – which seemed to have an endless line both Friday and Saturday.
However, the biggest draw for the Festival was without a doubt, the music, and both nights featured a wide mix of musical talent that seemed to please the crowd.
Brown took to the stage about 8:30 Friday night, and held court for well over two hours, rolling out his hit catalog with selections such as “Toes,” “Keep Me In Mind,” and “As She’s Walking Away” all eliciting a huge sing-a-long response from the audience on the Cumberland River.
On both nights, Brown had a little bit of help from his friends. Kenny Rogers showed up to take the crowd back to the 1960s with Mickey Newbury’s “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In).” The singer joked that he wanted to perform the song to show the band “What the 60s were like.” The ZBB rose to the challenge, sounding like they could have been right there besides Rogers during the First Edition days. For his second song, he chose to perform his signature, “The Gambler.” Other guests during the evening included Lennon & Maisy from “Nashville,” who performed “Ho Hey,” a song that has gained considerable attention on the ABC drama. Their parents, the Stellas, also performed. The sisters would return later in the evening, performing with Jason Mraz on “I Won’t Give Up.”
Rounding out the guests on the “Super Set” on Friday was Kenny Chesney – who filled the Jimmy Buffett part on “Knee Deep” and also made concert attendees feel like it was 1989 with a collaboration with the band on Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin.”
Any discussion of Friday’s show, however, would be incomplete without giving a bit of well-deserved praise to the incomparable Grace Potter & The Nocturnals. Playing a set before Brown, the Vermont native defines the terms “charisma” and “swagger.” There’s no doubting either her talent or her sex appeal – and when she puts it together as she does on songs like “Ooh La La (Paris)” or “One Short Night,” you will no doubt be mesmerized and also wonder why she is not a household name. Another highlight of her set was a tip of the hat to Elvis Presley on “Mystery Train.”
Saturday’s show also included some heavy hitters, with Willie Nelson, John Fogerty, and six-time CMA nominee Kacey Musgraves all performing. All in all, the autumn weather in Nashville was picture perfect, and it was a great weekend for an event that proves that good music is exactly that – Good Music – regardless of genre. The Southern Ground Festival will hit Charleston, SC on October 19-20. Go.