Thursday, October 25, 2012

Southern Ground Music and Food Festival

In our box on Sunday waiting for dinner and the show!!!

We left the Chesapeake Bay nearly three weeks earlier this year than last. We had a deadline to meet and we were not going to miss it: the second annual Southern Ground Music and Food Festival. The brain child of Zac Brown, leader of the Zac Brown Band, the festival is designed to bring together his two loves: music and food. And he brought it for us, that's for sure.

Set at Blackbaud Stadium, just outside of Charleston, and with the (Carolina) "blue sky breeze blowing wind through our hair" we feasted on two days of endless music and an array of local food offerings.  With friends Diana and Tom,who flew up from Florida, we had a blast.

Who did we hear?

Charlie Daniels Band -- as good as ever -- man can he play the fiddle.......
The Avett Brothers -- a little bit of blue grass, a little bit of rock, a lot of energy and musical talent -- the first time we had seen them and the first time we had ever seen anyone dance around a stage with their bass fiddle.
Levi Lowery -- Big beard, great voice, a southern soul
Michael Franti and Spearhead-- daughter Monica told me I would love him -- she was right. Tall, dreadlocked and barefoot, he got the crowd jumping (literally jumping and fist pumping)for his entire 40 minute set. And his guitar player only added to the frenzy. Franti reminded us to vote, told us about his good fortune to be adopted, brought fans young and old on stage to dance with him, and added at least 4 more members to his fan club. Check him out!!
John Driskell Hopkins & Balsam Range -- Hopkins is the free form handle-bar mustache member of ZBB
The Jerry Douglas Band -- Multi-Grammy winner. Bluegrass at its best.
The Wailers -- Looking at the crowd I saw a lot of conservatively dressed middle-aged white women gettin' their groove on and singing along to the Wailers.

Darius Rucker -- Former lead singer of Hootie and the Blowfish, this Charlestonian only stopped by for one song -- it felt like he just came by after dinner for a visit - but one song is better than none. What a unique voice he has.
Gregg Allman -- the legend
John Mayer --

 Not singing these days, but who cares, he is a guitar god. His solos with ZBB were among the best musical performances I have ever experienced. Second only to each of the four times in the past 10 months that I have seen......

Zac Brown Band -- a full concert set two nights in a row. On Sunday night we were lucky enough to be in Stage Box Seats -- yep  right on one of the piers radiating from the main stage affording us an up close and personal view of the performers. How close? Here's a photo of Jimmy DiMartini, of ZBB, right in front of us on the stage:

See Zac all the way down on the left? (No not the Jack Daniels statue, the guy playing guitar) On his way back he high-fived me!!

When we were not listening to the music we......

Hung out in the VIP tent -- comfy couches, football in the 3 tv's,  conversation with other fans, snacks and complimentary* beverages (*complimentary = included in the price of an upgraded ticket)

The in and out of the VIP tent

Watched the Southern Ground artists pose for their Christmas photo.

Just after snapping this photo the security guard said I had to stop. Eventually about three rows were filled with all the artists, including Zac, wearing a variety of holiday themed hats

Walked through the vendor tents

Ate some fabulous Pickled Shrimp Tacos from the Cork food truck

Shared Sunday Breakfast with the Zamily (ZBB fan club), making new friends from all over the country,  landing some swag and learning more about Camp Southern Ground, set to open in 2014, where "children with both typical and special needs will come together to learn life skills and teamwork in a positive, healthy and organic environment."

Had Sunday dinner in our Box on the Stage, cooked by a quintet of chefs including ZBB's own Rusty Hamlin.

Me, Diana and Rusty

Random thoughts --

SGMFF was one of my best weekends ever. 

Southern women have impeccable hygiene, and dress up for an outdoor concert on a soccer field much more than mid-atlantic women do -- dresses, bedazzled jeans, beautiful accessories, cute shoes.

Southerners can rock the denim -- nary a pair of khaki pants were seen either day.

Southerners know and love their Jack Daniels.

The sound at Blackbaud Stadium is Awesome -- much better than at most "music" venues

Check out the YouTube videos of Neon/Isn't She Lovely

You are never too old to be a groupie.

ZBB and Southern Ground Artists are good people and a class act -- they put on a great two days - terrific music,; helpful, friendly staffing; great food;  good prices (eg no food options were over $10, most were $8 or less for a full meal, offering everything from bbq to souvlaki to falafel; beers were $5 not the typical $8-10 venue pricing) and a real focus on thanking their fans and their Zamily, and giving back (eg Camp Southern Ground)

I can't wait for next year!

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