Success doesn’t always come overnight. Bands can struggle to book gigs for decades before signing that major record deal. Heck, sometimes bands never make it big—they continue to play your local, dusty theater until they all decide to get real jobs. Today’s band didn’t have to wait very long to see success, and when they got the ball rolling, they darn near shot to the moon.
Zac Brown was born in 1978 in Atlanta, Georgia. He was raised by his mother and stepfather as the 11th of 12 kids in the house. He picked up the guitar at age 8 and learned from one of his father’s dental patients. After a couple years of lessons, he began working with a local church vocalist to hone those skills as well. At age 19 he began touring with just his dog and a drummer in the southeast U.S. playing cover songs and having fun.
After opening a small restaurant and continuing to tour, in 2004 the Zac Brown Band got a bit bigger—adding a couple guitars, a violinist/fiddler and another vocalist. Shortly thereafter, the band got serious about signing to a major label and making an album. Zac had been playing a track called ‘Chicken Fried’ around the local scene for years, which was deemed to be pretty popular with the crowds. Another track ‘Toes’ was written a while back, and those two songs would become the biggest singles of their debut album The Foundation.
The album came out in November of 2008 after a bit of delay post-recording. It was originally slated for release on Brown’s own label Home Grown records, in combination with Big Picture Records. In the meantime, Atlantic Records got a hold of a demo and they offered to do all the distribution for the album for a small cut. Atlantic knew what they were doing—the album would be nominated for two Grammy awards, losing Best Country Album but winning Best New Artist. Seven years later, the album has sold over 3 million copies in the US.
Country music is something that has always kind of escaped me. I wouldn’t say I dislike it, but I’ve never spent too much time sharpening my ear to the latest and greatest in the genre. This was new to me, but I went in very opened minded. Honestly, I am pleasantly surprised. It’s almost like a country band met a jam band—like Garth Brooks jamming out with Barenaked Ladies or something. It’s upbeat, feel-good music that gets your toes tapping and singing along. I understand why these guys are so big, and if this album is the foundation (ha!) for their sound, I will certainly be following up with their more recent releases.
I could probably nitpick a couple of things about this album to be negative—but why? After two and a half times through so far, I’ve wanted to put it on again each time. So when the day is said and done, isn’t all that matters? For me it is, and I’ve got $5 bucks with Zac’s name on it.
Top 3 Tracks: