The Southern Ground Music and Food Festival continued on Sunday with $1 from each ticket sold supporting Zac Brown’s new concept, Camp Southern Ground, whose focus is offering a positive support system through trained staff to special needs children. The kids attending the camp will participate in many outdoor activities, as well as create and explore their artistic sides, and eat fresh foods from an organic garden located on the property. The camp is expected to open in 2015. You may make additional donations here: https://secure.acceptiva.com/?cst=d95a40.
Sunday was a beautiful day to be outside. After heavy showers the evening prior, skies were bright and clear for what was to be an exceptional array of musical talent crossing the main stage at Blackbaud Stadium on Daniel Island. Two beautiful girls representing Jack Daniels opened up the day tossing t-shirts to eager fans crowding around center stage. By the time the first act came out, the pit area was full of people anticipating the day’s legendary lineup, including Willie Nelson and Kenny Rogers.
First out was Freddy Clarke, who introduced us to his handmade guitar, a 1975 Flamenco, crafted by his father. His smooth style was impressive as his fingers danced playfully through songs like Ear Responsible, transforming the crowd into willing Spanish gypsies for the duration of the set. Backed up with a drummer and a 6 string bass, he sailed through his new classic, I Phone, Therefore I am, with lyrics telling us “I’m doing what I want on a two year plan.” Freddy’s sense of humor and effortless talent was a joy and an unexpected change of pace for the festival.
The Head and the Heart followed with a Ben Folds Five sound in Another Story from their album, Let’s Be Still. Their sound was easy on the ears with violin melodies combining with a pretty piano accompaniment. Being from Seattle, the band obviously wasn’t used to Charleston’s weather, stating “at least you have seasons!” as sweat was pouring from their chins. Playing popular songs from their signature album, The Head and The Heart, the band explored their musical range and compatibility with Josiah Johnson leading on vocals.
By the time the next artist hit the stage, there was barely any room to move. What we witnessed as spectators was an intensely beautiful scene whereas one patron was seated in a wheelchair on the lawn. In an unexpected scene of valor and commitment to their friend, this patron was lifted out of her seat and high into the air, so she could see Willie Nelson as he came out on stage. Willie sang as if we were sitting in a local bar, imploring everyone to sing along to Always On My Mind and Whiskey River, and delving into other hits like Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys, to which most of his fans obliged and sang with him.
When Willie had completed his set, we headed over to the VIP tent for drink refills and dinner hosted by Home Team BBQ, including pulled pork, baked chicken, coleslaw, baked beans and creamy gouda mac and cheese. The TV’s were playing football, and we kicked back while Band of Horses came out with songs Is There A Ghost, The Great Salt Lake, and No One’s Gonna Love You. The tents were a nice respite from the heat and humidity, and having great music to listen to while dining and watching football made for a perfect recess in the converted playground.
By the time Zac Brown came out with his band, the entire stadium was filled with anxious fans sitting wherever they could find a spot, filling up most of the grounds as well as the provided stadium seating. When the lights came on and profiles of band members came flashing through the curtain, the entire crowd exploded in screams and cheers. Finally, the curtain came tumbling down, and the band took off with Zac in the forefront, moving throughout the staging areas to greet fans and family. Southern Fried was our favorite. Jason Mraz and Kenny Rogers joined them onstage, and Kenny stole our hearts with his classic hit The Gambler using the Zac Brown Band as his backup.
Overall, the Southern Ground Music and Food Festival was a huge success. Lots of money was made for charity. Excellent food was shared by many foodies enjoying delicacies from Zac Brown’s selected chefs and local food trucks. The variety of drink choices offered by Jack Daniels, Landshark and others was impressive and tasty. Most of all, the range of talented artists that came to Blackbaud’s Stadium was a perfect combination of funk, folk, bluegrass and pop rock. Ultimately, if you have not attended one of these concerts, you absolutely must put this on your bucket list. The Lowcountry was blessed to have Zac Brown come to town.
A lifetime of music addiction and appreciation has led Stephanie to her passion of live music photography and the entertainment industry. Having a particular interest in exceptional guitar work, she is best known for introducing her kids to Steve Vai’s and Yngwie Malmsteen’s talent in an effort to promote musical discovery to a new generation.