Southern Ground Expands Nashville Festivities

Zac Brown Band Performs at Nashville's 2013 Southern Ground Festival.

Zac Brown Band performs at Nashville’s 2013 Southern Ground Festival.

Zac Brown’s Southern Ground Music and Food Festival took over Nashville’s Lawn at Riverfront Park last weekend (Sept. 27-28) for a two-day extravaganza featuring performances from Kenny Rogers, Kenny Chesney, Willie Nelson & Family, Kacey Musgraves, Eli Young Band, Grace Potter, John Fogerty, Lennon & Maisy and their parents The Stellas, Jason Mraz, Amos Lee and many more.

Zac Brown Band’s (ZBB) familiar hits including “Keep Me In Mind,” “Colder Weather,” “Goodbye In Her Eyes,” “No Hurry,” and “Free” indulged guests. A real treat for patrons were last-minute performance announcements from 2013 CMHoF inductee Kenny Rogers (“Just Dropped In – To See What Condition My Condition Was In,” “The Gambler”) on Friday, and 1993 CMHoF inductee Willie Nelson the following day.

Kenny Rogers performs Friday (Sept. 27) with Zac Brown Band at Nashville's Southern Ground Fest.

Kenny Rogers performed Friday (Sept. 27) with Zac Brown Band at Nashville’s Southern Ground Fest.

Nelson’s Saturday set extended 20-minutes beyond the schedule, while the legend played through his broken shoulder. Tunes included self-penned cuts (“Crazy,” “Good Hearted Woman”), covers (“Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys,” “Always On My Mind,” “Georgia On My Mind”), signature hits (“On The Road Again,” “Whiskey River” “Angel Flying Too Close To the Ground”), recent duets (“Beer For My Horses,” “Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die”) and gospel tunes (“Circle Be Unbroken/I’ll Fly Away,” “I Saw The Light”).

Musgraves gave a bold performance on the Landshark satellite stage just 48 hours prior to boarding an airplane to begin her European tour. The six-time CMA Award nominee’s show featured just one cover, which she wrote (“Mama’s Broken Heart”) in addition to her own album cuts including “Stupid,” “Silver Lining” and debut single “Merry Go ‘Round.” Musgraves additionally performed her self-proclaimed latest single, “Follow Your Arrow,” which was again featured on the main stage with ZBB later that evening.

Chesney and Fogerty performed a handful of titles with the ZBB on Friday and Saturday night, respectively. Chesney offered vocals on “Knee Deep” and “Running Down A Dream.” Fogerty’s performance wrapped Saturday guests with songs “Lookin’ Out My Back Door,” “Centerfield” and “Bad Moon Rising,” which was featured as a duet on Fogerty’s Wrote A Song For Everyone album with the ZBB.

Southern Ground’s food and drink offerings also took center stage. Organizers partitioned the park’s space even more efficiently than last year’s inaugural Nashville event, to include an expanded food court complete with a ferris wheel for viewing perspective. Vendors included Margot/Marche, Watermark, Peg Leg Porker, among others, while over eight food trucks including Jeni’s ice cream and the Grilled Cheeserie lined the walkway to the Landshark satellite stage. The Listening Room Cafe was also incorporated into this year’s events.

Southern Ground Nashville Map.

Southern Ground Nashville Map.

VIP tents offered particular patrons an unlimited beverage and food throughout both evenings, including oyster po’ boy, rib eye with corn and okra, shrimp and grits, ribs, wings, jambalaya, cornbread, beans and rice. Dessert included banana pudding, brownies and individualized pie selections. Exclusive stage boxes, which maintained a wait list due to the immediate sell-out, treated patrons to even more exclusive delicacies from ZBB’s personal chef, Rusty Hamlin.

Charleston, S.C. will host the festival Oct. 19-20.


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Eric T. Parker oversees operations and contributes editorial for MusicRow's print magazine,, the RowFax tip sheet and the MusicRow CountryBreakout chart. He also facilitates annual events for the enterprise, including MusicRow Awards, CountryBreakout Awards and the Rising Women on the Row. [email protected] | @EricTParker

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