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Concert Reviews:
Zac Brown Band Hootenanny At DTE Features Kid Rock Cameo
 

By GARY GRAFF
of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK



INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- You'd think that after a sold-out weekend of shows Kid Rock would have had his fill of the DTE Energy Music Theatre.

Not when his buddy Zac Brown was in town.

The two, in fact, are such good pals -- and Rock has been such an ardent supporter of the Zac Brown Band, winner of this year's Grammy Award for Best New Artist -- that it was only a semi-seismic surprise, though a roof-raising reception from the near-sellout crowd, when he strolled on stage with the Georgia sextet Wednesday night (Aug. 18) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre for a rendition of the Marshall Tucker Band's "Can't You See," sporting a black T-shirt and Tigers cap and planting kisses on Brown's cheek before and after the song.

The guest appearance did, however, fit well into the hootenanny nature of Brown and company's show, a revue that flowed practically non-stop for nearly three hours and 45 minutes. Brown himself introduced both of the support acts -- fiddler Casey Driessen and the laid-back Wood Brothers trio -- while their equipment was set up at Guinness world record speed, and a seven-minute film brought the ZBB on stage in less time than it takes some concert headliners to turn on all their amplifiers.

There was also plenty of interplay between the three groups throughout the night. ZBB multi-instrumentalists Clay Cook and Coy Bowles were on stage for five of the Wood Brothers' songs, while Brown joined in for a duet on the group's "Loving Arms." The Woods and Driessen each made appearances during the ZBB's set, and the night ended with all aboard for a three-song encore of "Georgia," the spiritual "Working on a Building" and the ZBB's "Free."

More than anything, however, Wednesday's show -- much like the ZBB's appearance at the last two Downtown Hoedowns in Detroit -- affirmed that the ZBB has made the leap from country iconoclasts and hipster favorites to a bona fide, arena-sized headliners. Consider it the next entry in the lineage from Jimmy Buffett and the Dave Matthews Band, with a little bit more twang; the ZBB has built the same kind of devoted, multi-generational audience -- including the pre-show tailgate culture -- with its blend of tight, genre-splicing songcraft and jam band attitude, evidence on Wednesday in long romps through "Neon" and "Who Knows."

It's a crowd that's also anxiously awaiting the ZBB's next album, "You Get What You Give," which comes out Sept. 21 -- and which Brown and company offered a generous taste of on Wednesday. A couple of the songs -- "Colder Weather," which was first recorded at Kid Rock's home studio after the 2009 Hoedown, and "Who Knows" -- have surfaced on the ZBB's live recordings, but the show marked the first area performance of the new single, "As She's Walking Away," as well as the jaunty "Knee Deep" (a Buffett collaboration on record), the smooth "No Hurry," the funky, New Orleans-flavored "Settle Me Down" and the Southern rock-flavored "I Play the Road," with Oliver Wood joining on guitar.

The new tunes fit well next to ZBB favorites such as "Chicken Fried," "Toes," "Highway 20 Ride," "Sic 'em on a Chicken" and "Whatever It Is," while select covers -- a bit of Bob Marley's "One Love" during "Where the Boat Leaves From," expectant father Brown's solo treatment of Cat Stevens' "Father and Son" and a goofy romp through the Charlie Daniels Band's "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" -- put some context on the group's approach. It was a good, long night of music, the kind that, given the smart way the ZBB has built its following during the past decade, we're likely to see for years to come.



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