The riverbank in downtown Nashville was overflowing with music and festivities Friday and Saturday (Sept. 27-28) when the Zac Brown Band held its annual Southern Ground Music & Food Festival.
Festivalgoers were able to experience the best of the event from both eye level and from above, atop an enormous Ferris wheel. And with Kenny Chesney, John Fogerty, Kenny Rogers and other sitting in with Brown and his bandmates, music was the key element.
However, there was certainly no lack of gourmet cuisine, and that was Brown’s vision when he started the festivals.
“It’s been my dream to enhance the experience that a fan gets when they come to a show so they can eat better, see better, have a better VIP experience and get their money’s worth,” Brown told CMT Hot 20 Countdown .
While nationally-recognized chefs Stephanie Izard, Giuseppe Tentori and Shon Foster were on site in Nashville, it’s Rusty Hamlin, Brown’s longtime friend, who has turned the band’s concert tours into truly special “meet-and-eat” events by cooking for the musicians and the fans in his state-of-the-art, 54-foot mobile kitchen.
“Chef Rusty Hamlin is an incredible celebrity chef and one of us,” Brown said. “He’s an incredible guy. He helps us to hand pick everything. He and I and our team bring in food trucks from all over the nation, bringing in incredible chefs to come in and everybody chipping in the best of what they have.”
Brown’s next Southern Ground event is set for Oct. 19-20 at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, S.C. The musical lineup will include Rogers, Willie Nelson, Kacey Musgraves, Natalie Maines and Holly Williams, among others.
See more of the interview with Zac Brown when CMT Hot 20 Countdown airs Oct. 12 at 11 a.m. ET/PT.