At the risk of offending CMT viewers or people who still watch the Grammys, I wasn't all that familiar with the Zac Brown Band when I was assigned this piece. I had seen his album in record stores (he looks like he needs a shower), and I think I had glanced at a Rolling Stone article about him barbecuing (the magazine mysteriously shows up at my house every month, along with copies of Women's Health, Forbes, and Field & Stream addressed to someone I've never met but really want to meet). Researching him, I listened to Mr. Brown's monstrously successful single "Chicken Fried." It's typical, generic modern country, cleaned up and tailored not to offend anyone, poppy enough to grab crossover listeners but twangy enough to stay on "big truck driving" playlists. It's also really, really good much to my chagrin. I don't know what hanging out with Brown and band is really like, but if it's even half the recession-proof utopia he describes (bountiful fried chicken and cold beer on hand), I'd giddily stash my recently purchased copies of the new Beach House and Spoon albums somewhere and join right in.
Sat., Sept. 25, 8 p.m., 2010