Andrew W. Griffin
Red Dirt Report
Friday, August 28, 2009
OKLAHOMA CITY – As someone who follows country (Texas and Red Dirt music) and pop music very closely, one of the more interesting success stories of 2009 is that of the Georgia-based Zac Brown Band, currently signed to Atlantic Records.
I first heard about them at the end of last year from a friend who had fallen in love with the breezy, catchy song “Chicken Fried.” While appealing, the goofy song never struck me as a huge hit. And Brown’s Southern-accented voice and the band’s musicianship seemed pretty average.
Yet, “Chicken Fried,” which I heard on numerous ringtones here in Oklahoma, hit number one on Billboard’s Hot Country Chart and became the second most downloaded country single on iTunes. Who can resist the subject of Southern fried food and a laid-back, rural lifestyle, as promoted in “Chicken Fried”?
“Chicken Fried” was recorded by the Zac Brown Band in 2003 and by The Lost Trailers in 2006. BNA Records released The Lost Trailers version of “Chicken Fried” but it was pulled at the last minute after Brown decided he wanted to re-record it himself and push it on country radio. While a jerky thing to do, the song was his “baby” and he wanted credit, understandably. Still, he had it pulled just as, according to Top40-Charts.com, The Lost Trailers version “received an overwhelmingly positive response” on country radio in early 2006.
Oh well. I guess in Zac Brown’s mind, The Lost Trailers can make it big without his help.
And in the intervening years, the Zac Brown Band has become one of the most popular new groups in America in 2009. Certainly not something to sneeze at. I even saw Brown, who is a cook, with a knack for special sauces, appear with fellow Georgian and cook Paula Deen on the Food Network.
In fact, this week, on the Billboard pop chart, Zac Brown Band’s debut album The Foundation is hanging at a respectable number 13. In addition to “Chicken Fried,” ZBB has had decent hits with “Whatever It Is” and the Jimmy Buffet-styled “Toes.”
Red Dirt Report has been quite amazed by the Zac Brown Band’s success. They seemingly came out of nowhere. I can think of a dozen bands that have been around a lot longer who deserve equal or more success. Brown himself is a burly, bearded guy. Not a typical pretty boy. Yet folks seem to really like him. Is there something more to his success?
And speaking of Jimmy Buffett, Brown was interviewed for the current Sept. 3, 2009 issue of Rolling Stone and was talking about his love of James Taylor.
The interviewer, Austin Scaggs, asks Brown if he had met James Taylor. His response:
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“No, but I did get to hang out with Jimmy Buffett the other day, at this private gentleman’s campsite outside San Francisco called the Bohemian Grove. We ended up sitting by the fire and I played for him. It was a huge honor. I’d love to do that with James Taylor.”
So, an up-and-coming country singer with a hit song is palling around with Mr. Margaritaville at Bohemian Grove? How quickly we’ve risen!
For those who do not know much about the secretive and elite Bohemian Grove club, check out Alex Jones’ 2000 documentary Dark Secrets: Inside Bohemian Grove. Jones’ infiltration of Bohemian Grove highlights the bizarre mock human sacrifice attended by the uber-wealthy men of America. One wonders if Zac Brown accompanied Jimmy Buffett to an old-fashioned, down-home mock human sacrifice?
Other luminaries in the world of music who are known to frequent Bohemian Grove include Mickey Hart and Bob Weir of The Grateful Dead and Spinal Tap bassist and comedian Harry Shearer.
In the meantime, Zac Brown Band continues to tour. They will be in Oklahoma City at the Zoo Amphitheatre on Sunday October 4, along with openers Mama Sweet and Eli Young Band.
I wonder if Brown will tell the ZooAmp audience about his frolicking amongst the Redwoods with Jimmy Buffett during his visit to Bohemian Grove. Ummm, probably not.
This article was posted: Friday, August 28, 2009 at 8:59 am