The Daily Herald

Don’t try to pin a label on Zac Brown, his band or his music unless it is the simple brand of a talent extraordinaire.

This weekend, Zac and his band will twice grace the stage at Carolina Crossroads bringing their unique blend of music which crossed musical boundaries and is embraced by fans of country, rock, reggae, bluegrass and pop.

If you doubt his repertoire, just consider who the Zac Brown band has opened for – an eclectic group of stars to say the least – The Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynard, Willie Nelson, B.B. King, Etta James, ZZ Top, Sugarland and Travis Tritt.

Not bad for a Georgia native who started his career playing solo in Atlanta bars. It was during that time Zac met Jimmy Demartini and John Hopkins – the fiddle player and bass player – who would ultimately be the start of the Zac Brown Band. Zac considers the band his “second family.”

Only in his 20s, Zac Brown radiates an uncanny aura both musically and personally that is beyond his years. It is this natural charisma that easily draws people into Zac’s world.

Zac’s new album, “The Foundation,” was recorded in Nashville, Atlanta and the Bahamas with award winning producer Keith Stegall (Alan Jackson, Jimmy Buffet).

“The Foundation” contains 11 tracks that are equal parts classic country, bluegrass, singer-songwriter, rock and pop.

With influences as varied as the musical freedom of the Allman Brothers, the spiritual heartbreak of Bob Marley, the working class grind of Willie Nelson, and the sincerity of James Taylor, Zac has created a signature sound that somehow manages to be both thoughtful and carefree from one breath to the next.

Zac attributes his success to his decision not to be easily categorized or to worry that his music was unclassifiable.

“People that wanted to sign me to a label, they’d always want to know what genre my music was, and the fact that it didn’t fit into any genre was always a big stumbling block for them. But I’ve held out, and realized that my music doesn’t need a category. It comes from a real place, and that’s what people identify with. Any artist that leaves his mark – whether it’s painting or music, or whatever – can’t be afraid of not following in the footsteps of everyone else’ you’ve got to break out and do your own thing. I think the average listener is prepared for a lot more diversity that the music industry is willing to acknowledge.”

Even before his current success, Zac knew that music would be his avenue for giving back. To that end, he is working on plans to develop a foundation and to open his own camp, and organization called the Homegrown Camp on the Georgia/Tennessee border. Homegrown Camp is a non-profit all-inclusive children’s camp that teaches diversity, teamwork, nutritional awareness and life skills as well as music and art.