Picture Book: Zac Brown Kicks Off Annual Music and Food Festival

By Amanda Miles

The inaugural Southern Ground Music and Food Festival was held over the weekend in Charleston, South Carolina. Zac Brown’s vision of combining world class fare with live music became a stunning reality over three days in the balmy coastal town. 31 acts from various genres of music including country, folk, rock, reggae and funk scorched the stages at Blackbaud Stadium on scenic Daniel Island. Festival attendees enjoyed jambalaya, fried banana pudding, hand pulled pork and Jack Daniels’ cocktails while relishing music from two distinct vantage points, the Main Stage and the smaller Honest Tea Stage. Zac unveiled a true VIP experience called “front porch boxes,” where first class food and music collide. The seating is eye level with the main stage, complete with platforms for artists to perform on as the ticket holder revels in a delicious four course meal prepared by James Beard award-winning chefs.


Full gallery after the jump.

If you missed the fun and shenanigans, here are stand out moments from the festival:

  • On Friday night, Zac Brown Band played a full cover set including songs from Pink Floyd, Widespread Panic, The Band and Tom Petty. During the set, Southern Ground artist Levi Lowrey joined the band for a rousing version of Johnny Cash’s ‘Folsom Prison Blues.’ Clay Cook’s incredible vocals were center stage on a stirring cover of ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.’
  • Southern Ground artists Sonia Leigh, Nic Cowan, Levi Lowrey, the Wood Brothers and Blackberry Smoke each rocked the main stage over the course of three days.
  • Guitar god Warren Haynes playing alongside ZBB on ‘Comfortably Numb.’
  • ZBB member Clay Cook performed a looping solo show on Saturday morning, quickly alternating between playing the drums, keyboard and guitar.
  • During Train’s set, lead vocalist Patrick Monahan invited some ladies on stage for a sing along. Madness ensued as woman after woman began jumping on stage until security had to step in and remove females from the catwalk and side stage. Patrick took it in stride and had the remaining throng of adoring female fans on stage join him for a hilarious version of ‘Hey, Soul Sister.”
  • My Morning Jacket’s transcendent rock screams filled the stadium Friday night.
  • Country music super star Eric Church played to a packed house on Sunday afternoon.
  • The Honest Tea Stage showcased lesser known bands with enormous talent. Artists who took the small stage by storm included Athens, GA’s The Whigs, funky Vintage Trouble and the hard driving Dirty Guv’nahs.

The festival was the first of its kind and concert-goers enjoyed every moment of the 72 music filled hours in Charleston, SC. Let’s hope the Southern Ground Music & Food Festival returns in 2012!

Brett Dennen







Clay Cook






Dirty Guv’nahs






Fitz and The Tantrums












The Wood Brothers












Zac Brown Band


  1. Amanda,

    What a phenomenal article and event. You paint a dynamite picture of the entire thing. Coming from Boston I’m not as familiar with all of these Southern artists nor this festival. But you seriously have me front and center with your writing. I can see it, feel it, hear it and God Bless ya, I can taste the food. THAT is a helluva writer.

    Aside from that I’m glad to see that you had what appears to be an awesome time yourself.

    Your pictures are fantastic. What a great coverage of this huge event.


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