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"you are not a jam band. you are not talented. you are a james taylor rip off wanna be b!tch. GFY Zac Brown" — "corycb," PhantasyTour.com
Aside from the fact that the group's music tends toward mainstream radio poppycock with decidedly unprofound themes like drinking beer and eating fried chicken and pecan pie — you know, the kind of lyrics that really help the South shed its backward, backwoods image — Zac Brown Band seems to have hogged up all but a tiny sliver of the country spotlight available in Atlanta, gorging on fame while leaving loads of lesser acts to fight over the scraps. ZBB is the sort of dreaded Atlanta band that OTPers know and love, mindless music to blast on the two-hour commute back to Johns Creek. It's no surprise that these guys get consistently doused in Haterade by snarky critical types like us; the merit of their kind of music is often hard to locate amid the calculated, twangy sheen and overly frat-tastic lyrics. To the haters, Zac Brown Band is just another CMT-approved scapegoat, an embodiment of country music's decades-long downfall.
OK, so they're not that bad. Songs like "Chicken Fried" belie an underlying current of smarts and a definite sense of playfulness, a trait doubly exposed when the band covers songs like Rage Against the Machine's "Killing in the Name." The reality is, though these guys win Grammys and Country Music Awards by the boatload, Brown remains diligently humble. He consistently does his part to help fledgling country singers in Atlanta and has given a needed jump-start to many a young career through his Southern Ground record label. And he's damn charitable to boot: Last year, he opened Camp Southern Ground, a 350-acre camp for kids with special needs in Fayette County. Plus, you can't tell me you don't sing along to "Chicken Fried" every time you, uh, accidentally hear it on the radio. Seriously, that song is the jam. — Gabe Vodicka
Zac Brown Band's new album, Uncaged, drops July 10.
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