Southern Ground Music and Food Festival featuring Zac Brown Band - 2 Day

Three-time GRAMMY Award winners and multi-platinum artists Zac Brown Band have become one of music's most heralded acts. Their third studio album 'Uncaged' (Atlantic/Southern Ground) debuted at #1 with the band's best first-week sales of 234K copies and followed the band's triple-platinum major label debut 'The Foundation' (Atlantic Records/Home Grown/Big Picture) and platinum #1 follow-up 'You Get What You Give' (Atlantic/Southern Ground). Together these albums have produced a historic series of ten #1 hit singles. Since 2009, the band has garnered over 70 GRAMMY, ACM, AMA, CMA and CMT award nominations. Additional information can be found at http://www.zacbrownband.com/.

Willie Nelson & The Family Band

Singer, songwriter, actor, and philanthropist. Born on April 30, 1933, in Abbott, Texas. During his extensive career, Willie Nelson has written more than 2,500 songs and has released close to 300 albums. He is recognized worldwide as an American troubadour and icon, transcended musical genres, and has remained relevant through five decades through his music, his acting, and as the face of such social causes as Farm Aid and development of bio-diesel.

"Now it's hard to remember it any other way." Band of Horses singer Ben Bridwell's compellingly evasive lyrical style will never let the listener on to the exact intent of this line as it appears in "Neighbor," the expansive Infinite Arms album closer, but taken out of the context of the song it becomes a sentiment of currency. The present state of the band is as close to ideal as rock n' roll can be. Having assembled a true creative and personal collective, designed and signed the record deal of his dreams, and made a fantastic new album free of any influence other than his onstage brothers in arms, it's hard to imagine that Bridwell cares to dwell on any time but the present. It took nearly 2 years, virtual bankruptcy, five states and a dead falcon to get there, but Infinite Arms is the product of a band doing things on their own terms and finally learning to enjoy the results.

The songs on Infinite Arms project the essence of the different locales across America that became the setting for the recording and songwriting process behind the album. The serene woods of Northern Minnesota and the band's native Carolinas inspired the songwriting, lending the compositions an air of comfort and familiarity. While those locations helped the songs come to life, the sounds were influenced by the recording settings. The rich musical heritage of Muscle Shoals, AL, the sublime beauty of Asheville's Blue Ridge Mountains, the glamorous Hollywood Hills and the vast Mojave desert helped yield the group's most focused and dynamic recordings to date.

Infinite Arms was a group effort in the truest sense of the phrase. Trading song ideas remotely and then joining in the studio to work through arrangements led to writing credits for all five band members throughout the record, making the album a reflection of the taste and style of each Horse. Bridwell is the lone constant member since Everything All the Time, the band's 2006 debut, but if you ask him he might tell you that Infinite Arms is just that: a debut in the sense that he entered the studio for the first time with a group of musicians working together as a cohesive force. All members made invaluable contributions to the inimitable sound that Bridwell has crafted since the band's inception.

Band of Horses is Bridwell, Creighton Barrett, Ryan Monroe, Tyler Ramsey and Bill Reynolds. The quintet have long standing ties: Monroe and Bridwell played baseball together in grade school, Ramsey and Reynolds cut their teeth in the same Asheville, NC music scene, and Barrett met Bridwell at a party as teenagers, where they bonded instantly over a mutual obsession with Dinosaur Jr. Over the course of a few years, they gradually synched up. Barrett appeared behind the kit on Cease to Begin, while Monroe joined the band on keys toward the end of the writing process of that record. Reynolds came into the fold almost by accident as he happened upon a recording session with the band at his friend's Echo Mountain Studios and joined the touring lineup soon after. Ramsey, already an established solo artist, joined after Reynolds introduced him to the band in 2007, starting to tour just prior to the release of Cease to Begin and opening the shows with a set of his own material.

The novelty of and high hopes for these new members demanded a completely uninhibited recording process. Anything less would have been disservice, and recognizing the most important element used to exert influence, Bridwell decided the only way to insure creative control was to finance the record himself. The result was liberating, the only dictator the creative muse . The band obeyed its every order. Strings and horns were brought in, guitar players played percussion, vocals were run through the same reverb tanks that treated the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" and a backyard amphibian chorus sang the title tracks' outro. Studios, engineers, pizza and whiskey are not cheap however, and near bankruptcy from recording costs prolonged the albums completion as the band had to spend time on the road to afford the next session. The resulting shows were among the best in the bands history. A sold out Carnegie Hall, epic festival sets, the now customary New Years Eve shows in Atlanta, and performances with musical idols Neil Young, Willie Nelson and Roger McGuinn kept things fresh and vibrant. The touring also helped combat studio malaise, and allowed the band to enter each recording session recharged and armed with new ideas. The thrill of honing the new material in a live setting gave the songs an edge that is difficult to capture when sedentary.

While the band initially enlisted their long time producer Phil Ek to take the helm, scheduling conflicts led to a band decision to produce the majority of the record on their own. This unexpected occurrence added another dimension to the credence of freedom that seeped into every aspect of Infinite Arms.

The freedom was not limited to the music. The band was looking at landscape of the business with a fresh perspective as their contract with Sub Pop had expired. Armed with their finest work to date, the band began entertaining suitors in the search for the one who would understand Bridwell's vision for a new record deal. Perhaps ironically, part of this deal involved Bridwell returning in a certain fashion to his first role in the business - a label president. Predating any foray into musicianship, and completely oblivious to his talent at the time, Bridwell started Brown Records while living in Seattle. "Brown Records came about thanks to two major factors. I had talented friends and I hated my job." he says. Those talented friends were a band called Carissas Wierd."I always considered myself their biggest fan and supporter so around this time I decided it was up to me to see that these recordings were available to any local set of ears willing to listen. I had moved up from my dishwashing position to line cook now and was making good tips, but held tons of resentment for a lot of the management, promoters, and even some bands that I was feeding every night that I felt treated me like a second class citizen, only there to cook for them and deal with their sometimes devilish moods. I retaliated by saving every shitty tip I got at the end of the night and stuffing it into a dead space in a stereo speaker. I'd have to crack the thing open like a piggy bank one day and ruin my listening environment to get it out, but for good reason. There was little doubt in my mind that the plan would work. I just didn't figure how well it would work. "

"I finally cracked my speaker open one day to reveal what I would think was probably around five or six hundred dollars. This was hardly enough to press a batch of 1,000 cds at the time, so I weaseled a loan out of my father for the rest of the cash. With a wonderful crackpot team of art director Jeff Montano and mastering engineer Joe Crawford (RIP) we got all the specifics together and pulled off the remarkable feat that was BROWN 001 Carissa's Wierd 'Ugly But Honest: 1996-1999'" A label boss was born. Bridwell continued to release records by Carissas Wierd and other local acts including S and Aveo, and eventually joined Carissas Wierd as the band's drummer, leading the way to the discovery of his musical talent, a fortunate occurrence for his fans.

Brown eventually became a distant priority behind Bridwell's new day job as a professional musician, but his passion for discovering and nurturing talent never left. When it came time to haggle with label suitors, he insisted on resurrecting Brown as an imprint to release the Band of Horses record through in conjunction with Fat Possum and Columbia, and to ultimately discover, nurture and release new talent , with his friends at Fat Possum handling marketing and distribution.

Infinite Arms continues the collaboration between the band and their aesthetic director Christopher Wilson. Bridwell and Wilson have a long standing friendship that dates back to their meeting in Tucson, AZ and subsequent days of washing dishes together at famed Seattle club The Crocodile. They added a professional element to their relationship when Wilson began designing Band of Horses album artwork beginning with the first record, and going on the road with the band as their photographer, while also running the projections that appear on the backdrop behind the band at each gig. An extremely talented photographer of natural landscapes, Wilson's view of the world has added the perfect visual accompaniment to the band's sound. Wilson's photographs and drawings will grace all versions of Infinite Arms, including the stunning deluxe edition which consists of the 180 gram vinyl, LP, CD, DVD featuring HD videos for every song created by Wilson and synched to a 5.1 surround sound mix by Elliot Scheiner, all packaged together in a 100 plus page coffee table book featuring Wilson's nature photographs.

The title of the record is another Bridwellian play on words. He'll never let on to what it means, the only hint that it's a phrase possibly misheard by thousands of people every day. Dwell on that one if you want to drive yourself nuts. Or, subscribe to Bridwell's philosophy of celebrating the present and embracing the future, both of which will find Band of Horses trotting the globe as they share the fruits of their labor with the world.

Fitz and the Tantrums

In just a year or so, soulsters Fitz & the Tantrums went from the living room to the main stage. The recipe for meteoric success? Six killer musicians, five dapper suits, irresistible songs, some serendipity and one vintage organ.

Since their first show at Hollywood’s Hotel Café in December 2008, Fitz and co. have toured with Maroon 5, played to thousands at Colorado’s world famous Red Rocks Amphi...theatre, shared the stage New Year’s Eve with Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and performed on KCRW’s esteemed show, Morning Becomes Eclectic, all this on the strength of their stellar five-song EP, Songs for a Breakup, Vol. 1.

For some bands, it takes a lifetime to build this success, but few performers deliver an unrestrained blast of soul-clapping, get-down-on-the-floor, moneymaker shakers like Fitz and the Tantrums. Now post-release of their debut full length, Pickin’ Up the Pieces, which has since earned them a 3 ½ star album review in ROLLING STONE, the troupe is poised to get down in dancehalls across the universe.

The Head and the Heart

So many decisions in life and in the music we love can come down to a critical tug between the logic in our heads and the hot red blood beating through our hearts. Seattle's The Head and the Heart live authentically in that crux, finding joy and beauty wedged there. Their music pulses effervescently—both explosively danceable and intuitively intelligent. With Americana roots and strong vocal harmonics that swell like a river, this band finds its anchor in solid songwriting that has even the jaded humming along by the second listen.
Leaving a variety of day jobs and academic pursuits, The Head and the Heart came together in the summer of 2009, during frequent visits to the open mic night at Conor Byrne in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood. California-transplant Josiah Johnson and Virginia-native Jonathan Russell formed the core songwriting partnership, quickly adding keyboardist Kenny Hensley to the mix. Kenny, then 21, had packed up his piano and moved up to Seattle from California to pursue musical score-writing. The luminous Charity Rose Thielen, violin and vocals, had just returned from a year of studying and playing music in Paris. Drummer Tyler Williams cold left a successful band in Virginia after Jon sent him the demo of "Down in the Valley," relocating across states to be a part of this. Finally, Chris Zasche, was bartending at Conor Byrne and mentioned one day that he'd be happy to play bass for the nascent band. It all felt right: The Head and the Heart was born. Whether penning songs on the beach at Seattle's Discovery Park, or working out melodies in the piano practice rooms at the Seattle Public Library, Charity describes the early months of the band's existence as touched by a shared purpose and connection. She recalls an email she sent to Josiah that summer, confessing that she was "sleepless and penniless, but inspired nonetheless."
The band entered Seattle's Studio Litho in early 2010 to record these songs that had been kicking and twisting in the catalytic development of their live show. Recorded by Shawn Simmons at Studio Litho and Steven Aguilar at Bearhead Studio, the band was selling burned copies in handmade denim sleeves at local shows within a few weeks. Self-released in June 2010, the debut album helped build an impressive head-of-steam for the band through the second 1/2 of the year, gaining fans at influential Seattle station KEXP, local record shops (a consistent top 10 seller for Easy Street and the #1 album of 2010 at Sonic Boom), and venues up and down the West Coast, culminating with signing to Sub Pop Records in November. For the 2011 re-release of the album, "Sounds like Hallelujah" has been re-recorded, live favorite "Rivers and Roads" has been added, and the album has been re-mastered.
The songs resulting from those first inspired months pick at the multicolored threads of leaving home, finding home, and through that process of deconstruction, finding yourself. These are songs about crossing rivers and roads to get to the one you love, about family far away, and the desire to chase Technicolor dreams down foreign horizons. When people hear these songs, or see the band live, the first thing they have to do is tell someone else. Their shows are, simply, one hell of a lot of breathless fun. Each song explodes into a potent supernova on stage, where half the audience is zealously singing along with every lyric, and the other half is wishing they knew the words. The band has accepted nearly every show offered to them in the past year, from backyards strung with Christmas lights to coffee shops, open mics, and even high school classrooms in Middle America. From the first months of the band's life, their reputation as a phenomenal live band has preceded them wherever they play.
The strength of Josiah, Jon and Charity's vocal harmonies on the album makes it feel like these three were born to pour their voices together, as the band's songs revel in jaunty bass lines with ebullient handclaps peppering the best moments. A palette of orchestral elements weave their way through the album, including cello, glockenspiel, and violin, all shading in the songs' development. For all the times your toes tap while enjoying this band, often the lightness will deceptively belie the depth of ache in the lyrics when you sit down to really listen. There is magic in the music, but not magic contrived by trickery or posturing. "It seems actually that the more genuine and honest we are in the songwriting and performing, the more people relate to that transparency," Charity muses.
This is an album for people who unabashedly sing and drum along on the steering wheel, and also for those who appreciate a well-crafted collection of songs that build into something wholly beautiful.
There is in this music a counter-cultural optimism, with roots that grow deep and melodies that lodge themselves far into that place inside you where the head meets the heart.

Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue

Since the release of their Grammy®-nominated 2010 debut album, Backatown, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue have grown creatively while winning hordes of new fans performing nonstop on five continents. Their new album, For True (Sept. 13 on Verve Forecast), offers substantive proof of their explosive growth, further refining the signature sound Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews has dubbed "Supafunkrock."

"There was excitement from everywhere," says Andrews (who's now 25) of the experience on the road and how it fed into the creation of For True. "We did over 200 shows in the last year and a half, and every night we allowed the music to take us over. Musically and creatively, we wanted to shoot for some different things."

The band - Mike Ballard on bass, Pete Murano on guitar, Joey Peebles on drums, Dwayne Williams on percussion, Dan Oestreicher on baritone sax and Tim McFatter on tenor sax - stirs together old-school New Orleans jazz, funk and soul, laced with hard-rock power chords and hip-hop beats, and they've added some tangy new ingredients on For True as they keep pushing the envelope, exploring new musical territory.

"We never sat down and really thought about concepts and what we wanted our music to sound like," Andrews explains. "It's just that, over the years, we allowed each one of the band members to bring their influences and taste in music into our music. Anything we hear or are influenced by, it naturally comes out in what we're trying to do. It's just our sound, and it happened naturally."

Andrews wrote or co-wrote all 14 tracks on the new album, including collaborating with the legendary Lamont Dozier on "Encore," while this time playing as much trumpet as trombone, as well as organ, drums, piano, keys, synth bass and percussion. Indeed, he played every part on the swaying, Latin-tinged "Unc." He's also come into his own as a singer, honoring the hallowed legacy of the great soul men of the 1960s and '70s. Like its predecessor, the new album turns on a rare combination of virtuosity and high-energy, party-down intensity.

Among the special guests are longtime NOLA cohorts like Ivan and Cyril Neville (who bring their trademark sound to "Nervis"); Galactic's Ben Ellman, reprising his producer's role on Backatown (percussion on opener "Buckjump," harmonica on "Big 12") and Stanton Moore (drumming on "Lagniappe Part 1" and "Part 2"); bounce rapper 5th Ward Weebie and the Rebirth Brass Band (who team up on "Buckjump") and Troy's longtime friend Charles Smith (who adds percussion to the same track).

"On the last record, we just basically did it with my band," Andrews points out, "but we've got a lot of New Orleans people on this new record - the music just called for it. The Rebirth Brass Band, these are all people that helped me grow in my career and teach me different things. And 5th Ward Weebie, who's one of the lead voices in the bounce community, we're like brothers. I'm excited to have those people on there, because they bring a taste of where I come from and where I'm going."

The album also bears the fruit of more recent relationships Lenny Kravitz (who plays bass on "Roses"), has the longest-standing bond with Andrews, discovering the then-teenage prodigy in 2005 and taking him on tour with his band. Calling Andrews "a genius player," Kravitz says, "He's got nothing but personality, he plays his ass off and he's a beautiful human being." Kid Rock (whose vocal is featured on "Mrs. Orleans") came out to see Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue at an outdoor show early this year in NOLA, and a month later Troy joined the star onstage at Jazz Fest. Andrews played with Warren Haynes (whose eruptive solo further heats up "Encore") at his annual benefit and again at the guitarist's Mahalia Jackson Theatre all-star event during this year's Jazz Fest. Ledisi (who sings on "Then There Was You"), met Troy at the 2010 Grammys, later came out to see him in New Orleans and was later featured in a segment for the landmark "Red Hot + New Orleans" at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, for which Andrews served as musical director.

His relationship with Jeff Beck (check out his blistering solo on "Do to Me") has blossomed since the guitar legend came to Troy's late-night post-Jazz Fest show at Tipitina's in 2010. "I was completely blown away," Beck said of his Tip's epiphany in Mojo magazine's "The Best Thing I've Heard All Year" special feature in January. "The crowd went wild. Troy and his band have just supported me on some U.K. dates. A sensational group of musicians. Trombone Shorty is one to watch." That led Beck to ask Andrews to play on Jeff Beck's "Rock 'N' Roll Party Honoring Les Paul," and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue joined Beck for his U.K. tour last fall.

"I'm fans of all those people," says Andrews. "I met them over the last year or two of touring, and I've been wanting to work with all of those guys and Ledisi. It's like this musical community. It's not like I reached out to them because I needed some big names on the record. I'm really interested in their music and their talents. So for me it's a dream come true to work with some of my favorite artists. Whatever they need me to do, I'll be there."

Since Backatown's release, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue have toured nonstop in North America, the U.K., Brazil, Japan, Europe and Australia. Last December, Andrews drew accolades as musical director of "Red Hot + New Orleans" at BAM. The sensational two-night run inspired The New York Times senior music critic Jon Pareles to assert, "Trombone Shorty had clearly set out to present New Orleans as a city whose glory days aren't over... it was a signal that the city's music would push ahead."

Yes, Andrews has made quite an impression on the critics. "Trombone Shorty is so ready for his close-up," The New York Times reviewer Nate Chinen wrote, describing the young virtuoso as "a native prodigy destined for breakout success." The San Francisco Chronicle's Joel Selvin hailed him as "New Orleans' brightest new star in a generation." Rolling Stone's Will Hermes raved that "Backatown is both deeply rooted and culturally omnivorous." And the Washington Post's Mike Joyce described one live performance as "a near-deafening, funk-charged blast of percussion, brass, reeds and guitar distortion that might have knocked the crowd sideways had there been any room to move."

TSOA's performances at and during the New Orleans Jazz Fest are legendary. This year, in one day, Troy sat in for a set of free jazz honoring a recently passed mentor. From there he sat in with Kid Rock. Then to the Gospel Tent for a featured slot with cousin Glenn David Andrews before literally running back to the main stage to close the Festival as a special guest of the Neville Brothers. His respect across a broad spectrum and his musical versatility is further evidenced by his performance resumé, playing at events as diverse as Bonnaroo, the Playboy Jazz Festival at Hollywood Bowl, the Montreal, Montreux and Monterey jazz fests, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in San Francisco, Austin City Limits, Fuji Rock in Japan, Philadelphia Folk Fest, Jam Cruise, assorted Blues Festivals and even a Reggae Festival in Germany. The band spent the month of July crisscrossing Europe to perform at festivals from Spain to Slovakia. Andrews has also done a ton of TV, appearing on The Late Show With David Letterman, The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Good Morning America, Tavis Smiley, NFL Kickoff (joining Dave Matthews Band) and a recurring role on the hit HBO series Tremé, on which he played himself in a recurring role. Along with appearing on Beck's Les Paul tribute, he's been a featured guest musician on the latest releases from Eric Clapton, Kravitz, Galactic and Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars.

Andrews hails from the Tremé neighborhood in New Orleans' 6th Ward, getting his nickname at four years old when he was observed by his older brother James marching in a street parade wielding a trombone twice as long as the kid was high. Troy started early, learning how to play drums and what he remembers as "the world's smallest trumpet" at the age of three. By the time he reached six, this prodigy was playing trumpet and trombone in a jazz band led by his older brother James, himself a trumpet player of local renown who has been called "Satchmo of the Ghetto."

Not long afterward, Troy formed his own band with some other musically inclined kids from Tremé, including current band mate Williams, and they became regulars at Jackson Square, with dreams of following in the footsteps of his brother James and Rebirth Brass Band, learning and carrying on the New Orleans tradition. While not only carrying on that tradition and expanding its boundaries, Troy has lent a generous helping hand to the next generation as well, having given longstanding support to the city's renowned Roots of Music program. Troy was also recently honored by being named the youngest member of the NOCCA Foundation board - the foundation behind New Orleans' Center for the Creative Arts where Troy and several of his band members studied and began collaborating. He's also finalizing plans for his own new foundation aimed at making sure that talented younger players with limited resources can get quality instruments to play. Starting in September, he'll be delivering Trombone Shorty trumpets and trombones to talented young musicians across the city.

While the city of Los Angeles has been both an inspiration and a home to the four members of Dawes, they found themselves traveling East last fall to record their third album in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina with newly enlisted producer Jacquire King. It was a chance to hunker down and work each day for a month away from familiar landmarks and routines. The tracks they laid down at Asheville's Echo Mountain Studio have yielded a 12-song disc of tremendous sonic and narrative clarity, book-ended in classic album fashion by two very different versions of the wistful "Just Beneath The Surface" – a misleading title, really, since the songs stacked in between dig so deep. Stories Don't End is not so much a departure from the quartet's previous efforts as a distillation of them. It spotlights the group's maturing skills as arrangers, performers and interpreters who shape the raw material supplied by chief songwriter and lead vocalist Taylor Goldsmith into an artfully concise and increasingly soulful sound.

Once again, Goldsmith displays a particular gift for tunes that balance tough and tender, hardboiled and heartbroken. As a writer, he prowls his psyche like a forties detective, looking for clues to the mysteries of life and love. "Just My Luck" has the irresistible pull of a vintage country tune, though the arrangement is understated and contemporary. If Goldsmith's vocal delivery weren't plaintive enough, the band ups the emotional ante with a beautiful wordless coda that intertwines Tay Strathairn's piano and Goldsmith's lead guitar. Similarly "Something In Common" is a morning-after shuffle that builds into a bigger and more dramatic track before dropping back to a quiet melancholic finish. Goldsmith takes a few simple words, like "something in common," and uses them like chapter headings to develop a compelling story, full of unexpected twists, from verse to verse. "Someone Will" includes the same kind of word play while boasting a little more swagger. "Hey Lover," a cover of a tongue-in-cheek tune by Dawes' good buddy Blake Mills, is a playful mid-album break with Taylor Goldsmith and his young brother, drummer Griffin Goldsmith, trading off lead vocals.

Before he started composing for the album, says Taylor, "I went through a Joan Didion tear." It was right after he read the legendary author's Democracy that he found the title, Stories Don't End, in her work. Though Didion is currently a New Yorker, she is most associated with Southern California, its culture of the sixties and seventies, a subject she examined in gimlet-eyed prose. When Goldsmith started penning new songs after several months on the road in support of Dawes' 2011 disc, Nothing Is Wrong, his writing was even more keenly observant. "From a Window Seat" was the first he completed and, he admits, "It's a very singular song. A lot of the songs on the record can be a little more broad, about a period in someone's life or trying to explore a certain feeling. This song is about a specific experience of being on an airplane and that's not a very poetic or lyrical idea." Yet Goldsmith, employing an accumulation of small details, once again finds the bigger picture, about the narrator's past and his (and our) uncertain future, about the history lurking beneath the swimming pool-dotted landscape below him. Just as important is the track itself -- lean, propulsive and guitar-driven – lending urgency to Goldsmith's in-flight musings. Similarly, "Bear Witness," a last-minute addition to the lineup that the band arranged during the Asheville sessions, is an almost cinematically vivid rendering of a man having a conversation with his child from his hospital bed.

Nothing Is Wrong had garnered considerable acclaim, with London's Independent declaring, "It's as close to a perfect Americana album as there's been this year." Up to then, the band had relied on good friend Jonathan Wilson as producer, cutting its 2009 debut disc, North Hills, at Wilson's Laurel Canyon studio and its follow-up with Wilson at a larger room in Echo Park. But Wilson's own career as a solo artist was taking off following the release of his Gentle Spirit disc, and the band began a search for a new collaborator. King boasted an impressive and unusual resume, having produced an eclectic range of artists, including Kings of Leon, Modest Mouse, Norah Jones and the Punch Brothers. Says keyboardist Strathairn, "He's really easy to work with. As a producer he doesn't want to be the artist, he simply tries to make the band sound the best that the band can be. And the work speaks for itself."

Recording with King and foregoing the quickly cut, straight-to-analog tape approach of its first two recordings was a way, says Taylor, for Dawes "to push the boundaries of what might be expected of us, or feel like a comfort zone for us, while trying to be the same band we always are. That was important to us. We didn't want to abandon anybody's sense of who we were and, more importantly, our sense of ourselves. We wanted to stay true to this thing that we had while starting to widen the spectrum a little bit."

The reprise of "Just Beneath the Surface" at the end of the disc, however, is a first-take document of the band figuring out the tune together, and it was too good not to keep. As bassist Wylie Gelber recalls, "We knew the vibe we were going for and we were running through it while Jacquire was setting up. But we were completely unaware that he was recording us. We were fooling around and towards the end of it, we stopped for a minute and Jacquire said, Hey man, I think we've got it. We tried to beat that take but we couldn't. You can hear it there, you can feel that it's the first time it's being played, it's a simple song and there's a subtle art to doing it. It ebbs and flows."

"With Jacquire," explains Taylor, "we were able to hold on to an essence of what we had been, but I feel now, more than with our first two records, that this makes a case that we're a band from 2013. There a lot of bands that harken back to a period or style of a different time and that can be really limiting. That was never our intention."

"The album is very honest," concludes Strathairn. "It's us."

- - Michael Hill

Kacey Musgraves

"I'm enjoying this ride. I'm enjoying the characters I meet along the way and the songs that are born from it" 23 year old singer-songwriter. guitar player. mistake maker. free thinker. rule breaker?

Hailed by American Songwriter as a "sophisticated, introspective singer/songwriter" and as having "a lovely, ever-on-the-vergeof-breaking voice, and knows how to sell a song" by The Washington Post, critically lauded Nashville-based singer-songwriter Holly Williams will self-release her third studio album, The Highway, on Georgiana Records February 5, 2013. Co-produced by Charlie Peacock (The Civil Wars) and Williams, The Highway is the follow-up to 2009's Here With Me, and is Holly's first record as an independent artist. Additionally, the album features guest vocals from Jackson Browne ("Gone Away From Me"), Jakob Dylan ("Without You"), Dierks Bientley ("'Til It Runs Dry") and Gwyneth Paltrow ("Waiting On June"). Featuring 11 original compositions of "serious-minded, heavy-hearted songwriting she's done all along," (Nashville Scene), all
songs were either written or co-written by Williams. Writing collaborators include Christopher Coleman ("Happy," "Let You Go," "'Til It Runs Dry") Lori McKenna ("Without You"), Sarah Buxton ("A Good Man") and Cary Barlowe ("'Til It Runs Dry"). Recorded at The Art House in Nashville, the album was engineered and mixed by Richie Biggs, with additional engineering and mixing by Nick Autry, and Chuck Ainlay.

"I think every artist has their coming of age record," says Williams. "This one definitely feels like mine in that there was such a shift with me through the process of this record. It was completed in exactly nine months to the day, feeling somewhat like a birth. These songs really brought a focus into my life personally. Since the last record, I turned 30, my grandparents are gone, I'm married now, I'm keeping doggies and gardens alive, I have a clothing store, I have a husband on tour with a huge rock band, so there's a lot to keep up with. But the highway came calling and I suddenly had this serious longing for the road, the fans, the storytelling, and the life in that living. I'm ready to get back to those wheels and play these songs for everyone."
The daughter of Hank Williams, Jr. and granddaughter of the legendary Hank Williams, Holly released her debut album The Ones We Never Knew (Universal South) in 2004. The follow-up Here With Me (Mercury Nashville) was released in 2009, earning high praise from The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, People, Entertainment Weekly, American Songwriter, NPR Weekend Edition Sunday.
With a passion for style and fashion, Holly is the owner of H. Audrey, a clothing boutique in Nashville. She also shares her love of food and travel on her blog, The Afternoon Off - http://theafternoonoff.com/

Blackberry Smoke

Atlanta based Blackberry Smoke continues to grow into the premiere Southern Rock band of America. Over the last 12 months they have shared the stage with ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Shooter Jennings, Cross Canadian Ragweed and countless others. The band has recently finished recording their sophomore effort “Little Piece Of Dixie” with legendary producer Dann Huff (Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts) and engineer Justin Niebank, to be released summer of 2009.
REVIEWS

At a certain point, Southern Rock as it was perceived in the ’70s was alternately tarted up in slutty make-up by Rock or blow-dried and sanitized by Country, neither of which did much to effectively or appropriately expand the genre’s range. Blackberry Smoke may be too young to remember firsthand the visceral bite of early Lynyrd Skynyrd, the moody excellence of the Marshall Tucker Band and the gritty Blues of the first three ZZ Top albums, but they do a pretty decent job of channeling the era without slipping into faceless arena Country Pop that shares little with Southern Rock outside of a decibel level. On the Atlanta quintet’s sophomore full length, Little Piece of Dixie (also the name of the EP they released earlier in the year), they strike the right balance between the original purveyors of Southern Rock and the legitimate second-generation revivalists, polishing and contemporizing the sound without backloading too much cheese and smarm into the proceedings.

The Wood Brothers

Two brothers decide to form a band, adapting the blues, folk and other roots-music sounds they loved as kids into their own evocative sound and twining their voices in the sort of high-lonesome harmony blend for which sibling singers are often renowned. While that’s not a terribly unusual story, the Wood Brothers took a twisty path to their ultimate collaboration. Indeed, they pursued separate projects for some 15 years before joining forces.

You wouldn’t necessarily gather this fact from listening to Smoke Ring Halo (Southern Ground), the duo’s third full-length album – their musical chemistry has never felt more profound. Oliver Wood (guitar, vocals) and Chris Wood (bass, vocals, harmonica) refine their rich, spacious sound on songs like the rousing opener “Mary Anna,” the back-porch-funky “Shoofly Pie,” the waltz-time plaint “Pay Attention,” the elegiac title track, the gospel-inflected “Made It Up the Mountain” and more.

It's a wedding ceremony. The groom and visibly pregnant bride are impossibly young—so young, they must still be in high school, or only recently graduated. "Do they know what they're getting into?" you wonder.

It's an indelible scene from "Hold On Tight," a song from I Confess I Was A Fool, Levi Lowrey's Southern Ground debut. It testifies not only to his skill as a songwriter, but also to his unsparing honesty. You see, he was that nervous groom, all of 19 at the time. And the expectant bride? Now his wife of seven years, and mother of his two small boys. "Hold On Tight" is her favorite song, Lowrey notes.
"I write from true experience," he says. "And I find a lot of inspiration in sorrow, pain and stupid mistakes."
It's that honesty—and the skill with which it's conveyed—that sets Lowrey apart both as a performer and songwriter. And as word of his prodigious blend of talents spreads, his live audiences keep growing. Truly, after a lifetime of playing music, then seven years of playing in a band before striking out as a singer/songwriter, this is his moment. And I Confess I Was A Fool—with its masterful, song-serving performances, pitch-perfect songcraft and unflinching confessions and observations—is his calling card.
Levi Lowrey may be a guitar-toting troubadour today, but he began as a fiddle player. No surprise, since his great-great-grandfather, the late Gid Tanner, was also a fiddle player and today stands as a towering figure in country music history. Tanner and frequent rival "Fiddlin' John" Carson were among the first "hillbilly" musicians to take advantage of the fledgling broadcast and recording industries of the early 20th Century. As a result, Tanner—a chicken farmer by trade—became one of the first country music stars, along with his band the Skillet Lickers.
Despite such a legacy, Lowrey felt no pressure, and he took naturally to the fiddle—it's in his blood, after all—playing in school orchestra, at bluegrass festivals, in weekly jam sessions in his hometown of Dacula, Ga. and with various relatives who have kept new incarnations of the Skillet Lickers going since the band's 1930s heyday.
Curiously, for someone so skilled as a lyricist, the first songs Lowrey wrote were wordless. Early recordings of his were all instrumental, a mix of traditional country and bluegrass numbers and new compositions based on the traditional tunes he'd grown up with. It was only at this point that Lowrey picked up a guitar and even then, it was only to lay a musical bed for his fiddle compositions.
But the siren call of rock stardom beckoned, so as a high schooler he joined a band, and though he wasn't the primary songwriter, he began haltingly adding lyrics to a composition here and there. Inspired by Butch Walker and his Atlanta power-pop outfit, Marvelous Three, Problem Thomas became the venue where Lowrey got comfortable onstage and grew into his role as a songwriter. He also began leading worship at his church as the band ran its course—in fact, its core now remains as Lowrey's touring ensemble, the Community House Band.
"Then, I just came full circle and started writing stuff that was more derived from my roots and how I grew up, how I learned how to play," he recounts. "It's not North Georgia string band music; I wouldn't call it bluegrass. I don't think I'd even call it country, but it has all of those elements within it—it's just a melting pot of my influences."
It may be tough to label, but it's bound to resonate with anyone who loves top-notch songwriting and keen musicianship. The songs include a memorable, story-telling nod to Charlie Daniels ("All American"), an upbeat country rocker ("The Problem With Freedom") and plenty of more laid-back, introspective moments, redolent of Lowrey's heroes Kris Kristofferson and Darrell Scott ("Freight Hopper" "Another Sunday Morning Hangover.") The lyrics ride the typically southern Saturday night/Sunday morning dichotomy, with debauchery, foolishness, regret and confession in equal measure.
"My wife was out of town," Lowrey recalls, about "Another Sunday Morning Hangover," "so I was a useless human being. I woke up on my couch and I was watching TBN for some reason. I guess I came home hammered and wanted to watch the televangelists. When I woke up I found a napkin laying on the coffee table, and I couldn't even get up—it was the worst hangover I've ever had in my entire life. So I just leaned over, grabbed the napkin and started writing the song down."
Lowrey isn't just an explorer of his own heart; he's also equally adept at telling others' stories—exhibit A: "Roselee And Odes." It's a tale of the older couple who lived next door to him and enjoyed a lifetime of love, which turned to heartbreak when Odes passed away. "I was very hesitant to play it for Roselee," Lowrey recalls. "She's still not over him. It took her a long time to even get to the point where she could get out of bed in the morning. But she loved the song."
As Lowrey has matured as a songwriter, his gifts have been employed increasingly by others. He along with Zac Brown, Wyatt Durrette, and Zac Brown Band member Coy Bowles wrote "Colder Weather" which became Zac Brown Band's seventh consecutive #1 single and received a CMA Award nomination in 2011 for Song of the Year.
A full telling of Lowrey's story would be incomplete without mentioning Brown, as well as fellow singer/songwriter and Southern Ground labelmate Sonia Leigh. Just a few years ago, they were all compadres on the Atlanta singer/songwriter scene, playing dive bars, acoustic-music showplace Eddie's Attic and anywhere else that would have them.
After his band broke up, Lowrey ended up in Leigh's band as her full-time fiddle player while continuing to write and perform the occasional solo gig. Meanwhile, both of them could tell big things were ahead for Brown, who'd already paid lots of dues on the local scene.
"The first time I ever saw Zac, I just knew," Lowrey recalls. "I can't even explain. It's like, the same way that you feel about him when you see him in an arena today, and how incredible the show is—imagine that feel, that vibe and that energy packed into [300 capacity] Dixie Tavern."
So when the Zac Brown Band broke through on the charts and established itself as a concert draw, Brown was true to his promise to come back for his friends. After he established his own record label, Leigh and Lowrey were among his first signings along with Nic Cowan, and they have already played sizable venues—arenas and amphitheaters—as opening acts.
Despite the boost, Lowrey has a one-step-at-a-time attitude about his career, trusting his audience to find him organically. "I'm not trying to be a superstar right now—that's not on my list of things to do," he says, noting that he still lives in Dacula, his hometown, and that's not likely to change. "What I've been trying to do is write the next song better than the last one. Honestly, I get to do what I love for a living, my kids eat, my wife is provided for, and we're able to help out others who are struggling. We're very family oriented, and I think that's about as good as it gets."

Clay Cook

Clay Cook is one of the most talented songwriters and multi-instrumentalists in Atlanta. After compiling a strong resume over the last few years, Clay had focused his time on music production and his main creative project: Clay Cook & The Torches.


Clay Cook & The Torches members include, of course, Clay, former Sugarland guitarist Bret Hartley, longtime collaborator and bassist Matt Mangano, and Y-O-U drummer Mark Cobb. They perform all around the southeast.


In 2005, Clay opened a studio in Atlanta called The Small Room. Filled with some of the finest available equipment, The Small Room is host to many local records and the occasional national act.


Over the years Clay has worked extensively with John Mayer, The Marshall Tucker Band, Sugarland, Shawn Mullins, Matthew Kahler, Jennifer Daniels, and Y-O-U.

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Southern Ground Music and Food Festival featuring Zac Brown Band - 2 Day with Nightly performances by Zac Brown Band with special sit-in guests, Kenny Rogers and from the Hit ABC...

Saturday, October 19 · 12:00 PM at Blackbaud Stadium