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'Chicken Fried' dudes



C. Taylor Crothers

When country rock’s Zac Brown Band looked to record a follow-up to 2008’s platinum-selling smash, The Foundation, they heeded the advice of Les Brown, shot for the money and landed a pair of stars.

“I remember when Zac had these songs, he was like, ‘Jimmy Buffett is going to sing on this track, and Alan Jackson is going to sing this.’ We were like, ‘OK,’” vocalist and fiddler Jimmy De Martini said. “He has this way of making things happen when he’s really motivated to make it work.”

More than steady phone calls netted the group such high-profile guest spots on You Get What You Give, its second major-label effort. Zac Brown Band’s mantle has filled with gold statues from the Academy of Country Music, Country Music Association and the Best New Artist Grammy in 2010, despite having formed in 2002.

“We were the Best New Artist, eight years in the making,” De Martini said. “We realized as far as it goes nationally, we were new to everybody.”

The group started garnering attention on the heels of The Foundation, anchored by the hit “Chicken Fried.” However, more than mere country crowds dug the Atlanta-based outfit. A healthy sampling of Southern rock, folk and even a bit of jam band and island rock help.

“It’s what we do. It’s our sound. We hit on all styles of music and just make it the Zac Brown Band way,” De Martini said. “We never had intentions of becoming a Nashville-style country band. We were just doing what we liked, and we’ve never compromised on the music we like to play.”

Zac Brown Band recently wrapped up studio sessions on its next disc, with an eye toward a summer release. Although scant on details, De Martini promises it won’t disappoint.

“We seem to click even more,” he said. “That’s an extra three years of playing together, and we are just that much better.”

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