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ZAK BROWN BAND

Above: Zac Brown Band at Walmart Soundcheck L-R: Coy Bowles, Clay Cook, Daniel de los Reyes, Zac Brown, Jimmy De Martini, John Driskell Hopkins, Chris Fryar

Zac Brown Band

Origin Dahlonega, Georgia, U.S.

Genres
Country Southern rock country rock folk rock jam band country pop

Zac Brown Band is an American country music band based in Atlanta, Georgia, on the Southern Ground Artists label. The lineup consists of Zachry Alexander “Zac” Brown (born July 31, 1978) (lead vocals, guitar), Jimmy De Martini (born August 3, 1976) (fiddle, vocals), John Driskell Hopkins (born May 3, 1971) (bass guitar, guitar, baritone guitar, banjo, ukulele, upright bass, vocals), Coy Bowles (born February 20, 1979) (guitar, keyboards), Chris Fryar (born November 22, 1970) (drums), Clay Cook (born April 20, 1978) (guitar, keyboards, mandolin, steel guitar, vocals), Matt Mangano (born May 12, 1976) (bass guitar), and Daniel de los Reyes (born July 18, 1962) (percussion).

The band has released six studio albums, three of which have been in collaboration with Atlantic Records, along with two live albums, one greatest-hits album, and two extended plays. They have also charted sixteen singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs, of which eleven have reached number 1: “Chicken Fried,” “Toes,” “Highway 20 Ride,” “Free,” “As She’s Walking Away,” “Colder Weather,” “Knee Deep,” “Keep Me in Mind,” “Homegrown,” “Loving You Easy,” and “Beautiful Drug.” Their first Atlantic album, The Foundation, is certified triple-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, while its follow-ups, You Get What You Give and Uncaged (Opened at No. 1 with 234,000 sales), are certified platinum. Artists with whom they have collaborated include Alan Jackson, Jimmy Buffett, Kid Rock, Amos Lee, String Cheese Incident, Trombone Shorty, Joey + Rory, Jason Mraz, Dave Grohl, Chris Cornell and Avicii.

Zachry Alexander Brown was born[2] on July 31, 1978, in Atlanta, Georgia. He was raised on Lake Lanier by his mother, Bettye, and stepfather Dr. Jody Moses, a dentist in Cumming, Georgia. The 11th of 12 children, Brown attended Mashburn Elementary School in Cumming; Lakeview Academy in Gainesville, Georgia; and South Forsyth High School in Cumming. He later moved to Dahlonega, Georgia, at age 17, where he graduated from Lumpkin County High School.

Brown was given his mother’s guitar at age 8, and one of his stepfather’s patients was enlisted to teach him classical guitar. He completed two years of lessons, but soon after developed a love for bluegrass music while playing with his father and brother on weekend visits. In his mid-teens, Brown spent almost a year being tutored by a vocal coach from his church in Cumming.

While still in high school, with James Taylor as his inspiration, Brown began playing solo gigs in local venues, performing country and pop cover songs. Brown attended the University of West Georgia, where he became a member of the Zeta Kappa chapter of the Kappa Alpha Order fraternity. He was also a camp counselor at Camp Mikell in Toccoa, Georgia, and Camp Glisson, a United Methodist summer camp and retreat center located in Dahlonega, Georgia. By the age of 19, he began touring the Southeast of the U.S. with a drummer and his dog, Pete, laying the foundation of what became the Zac Brown Band nine years later.

In 2002, Brown was traveling with a heavy tour schedule of approximately 200 dates a year. The initial Zac Brown Band lineup consisted of Brown, on acoustic guitar and lead vocals, backed by drummer Marcus Petruska and a bass guitarist. In 2003, Brown started his own label, called Home Grown—it was later renamed “Southern Ground” for legal reasons.

In 2004, Brown opened a music club and restaurant with his father in the Lake Oconee area of Georgia, called “Zac’s Place” where the fare was southern-style cooking. A developer bought the restaurant and, in turn, the Zac Brown Band bought a tour bus and began touring full-time, playing rock and country clubs, as well as folk and jam band festivals. The release of the Zac Brown Band’s first independent album, Home Grown, occurred during the same year.

Also in 2004, Brown added violinist/fiddler and tenor vocalist Jimmy De Martini to the lineup. According to an interview with De Martini, he explained that Wyatt Durrette, Brown’s frequent songwriting collaborator, was working as a bartender at Sidelines Sports Bar in Kennesaw, Georgia, at the time, where the Zac Brown Band frequently performed. Durette suggested De Martini to Brown, who was wanting a “lead instrument” in his band, as well as a harmony singer. After doing several performances with the band at the club, Brown asked De Martini to become a permanent member, to which De Martini gladly obliged.

Brown met John Driskell Hopkins in 1998 when Hopkins was hosting an open mic night at CJ’s Landing in Buckhead, Georgia. Hopkins later recorded Home Grown in his music studio, Brighter Shade Studios. The two remained friends, and in 2005, Hopkins stepped in as bass guitarist while helping the group finish what became their number-one single “Toes.” “Toes” was the second single from the band’s major-label debut, The Foundation, which was partially recorded in Hopkins’ studio. You Get What You Give was also partially recorded in Brighter Shade Studio.

Coy Bowles transferred to Atlanta’s Georgia State University to study music. He subsequently became involved in Atlanta’s various music scenes, and eventually formed Coy Bowles and the Fellowship in 2004. Two years later, Bowles decided to reconnect with Brown. Through mutual friends, he learned that the Zac Brown Band was scheduled to perform in Atlanta one evening. Bowles and Brown spent the afternoon prior to the performance reacquainting with each other, which ended with Brown inviting Bowles to sit in with his band at that night’s performance. To return the favor, Bowles invited the band to attend his own gig with the Fellowship a couple of months later, which in turn resulted in Brown and his band sitting in at that gig.

This turn of events continued for eight months until Bowles concluded that it was too overwhelming to balance his time with Brown’s band and his own band, in addition to other activities; he therefore made a decision to put the Fellowship on an indefinite hiatus, and became a permanent member of the Zac Brown Band.

In 2008, the Zac Brown Band signed to Live Nation Artists Records, in association with Brown’s own Home Grown label, after Chris Fryar became an addition to the band. An Alabama native, Fryar attended the University of North Texas and the Mississippi University for Women, and made a name for himself in the Birmingham music scene. According to Fryar, a mutual friend recommended him to Brown, who was in need of a new drummer for the band. Fryar, who in turn had just finished a stint with a previous band, subsequently auditioned and shortly afterward became the Zac Brown Band’s newest member.

In 2014, with the addition of bass guitarist Matt Mangano to the line-up, Hopkins expanded from his own role as bass guitarist to add other instruments in his arsenal such as standard six-string guitar, seven-string guitar, baritone guitar, ukulele, double bass, and banjo

The Zac Brown Band’s debut single, “Chicken Fried”, was originally recorded in 2003 and included on the Home Grown album, but later re-recorded and released to country radio in 2008. This song was also recorded by The Lost Trailers, whose 2006 recording was released as a single but withdrawn after Brown decided that he wanted to release it himself.[11] Brown also co-wrote “Simple Life”, a song recorded by The Lost Trailers on their 2006 self-titled album.

The band signed to Big Machine Records in 2015 and released its sixteenth single, “Homegrown”, in January. The song, co-produced by Jay Joyce, was the lead single to an album, titled Jekyll + Hyde, which was released on April 28, 2015. Despite being a country album, Jekyll + Hyde features prominent styles from other genres in several of its tracks including rock (Heavy Is the Head), EDM (Beautiful Drug ), celtic (Remedy), reggae (Castaway) and traditional pop/jazz (Mango Tree).

On Saturday, March 7, 2015, the band made their Saturday Night Live debut.

Also, in July 2015 Avicii previewed a single entitled “Broken Arrows” featuring the band.

Jekyll + Hyde is the first album that ZBB recorded when they weren’t on the road.

Band members

Zac Brown – lead vocals, guitar, banjo, bass guitar (2002–present)
Jimmy De Martini – fiddle, guitar, mandolin, backing vocals (2004–present)
John Driskell Hopkins – bass guitar (2005–2014), guitar, baritone guitar, ukulele, upright bass, banjo[35] (2014–present), backing vocals (2005–present)
Coy Bowles – Hammond organ, Wurlitzer electric piano, clavinet, guitar (2006–present)
Chris Fryar – drums, percussion (2008–present)
Clay Cook – Hammond organ, Wurlitzer electric piano, clavinet, guitar, pedal steel guitar, backing vocals (2009–present)
Daniel de los Reyes – percussion (2012–present)
Matt Mangano – bass guitar (2014–present)

Discography

Main article: Zac Brown Band discography
Studio albums
Far from Einstyne (2004)
Home Grown (2005)
The Foundation (2008)
You Get What You Give (2010)
Uncaged (2012)
Jekyll + Hyde (2015)
Welcome Home (2017)