Walking into Coors Field Ballpark, I was confronted by a sea of country fans in their checkered shirts and cowboy boots. This made me assume Zac Brown Band was a typical country show. Instead I witnessed exceptional musicians switching musical genres faster than Donald Trump changes communication directors. The threat of a downpour drenching the crowd turned into only sprinkles throughout the night. Zac Brown Band similarly sprinkled in alternative, classic, country, and pop songs throughout the show. I discovered Zac Brown’s own songs can be straight country, Jimmy Buffet tributes, and pop songs. There is a reason one of his albums is entitled Jekyll and Hyde. The Old Guy at the Show HQ acquired the highly sought after pit passes (general admission by the stage). Zac Brown was so close to us that he shook our hands and possibly shed some of his beard upon us. In the middle of his show, Zac Brown stated, “I turned you on to some good sh*t tonight.” He was talking about the artists that opened up the ballgame…. I mean show.
|Caroline Jones All photos by the Rock and
The first inning started with singer-song writer and multi-instrumentalist Caroline Jones. She played most of the instruments on her soon to be released album. Jones grew up in Connecticut, but a trip to Nashville made her fall in love with country music. As the crowd found the way to their seats, Jones sang a song about her dog Old Blue on the banjo. Her picking was impressive and her smooth vocals made the crowd look up from their adult beverages. After a few acoustic songs, a full band joined her on stage. Jones switched to an electric guitar to play her “mission statement” and title track to her album Bare Feet. It could be about striving to live out your dreams or her hatred for footwear (every song is up for interpretation). Another highlight was Chase Me about her belief that men should chase women not the other way around (some how I don’t think that’s one of her problems). By the end of her set, it was apparent why Caroline Jones was listed in Rolling Stone’s 10 New Country Artists to look out for in 2017.
One of Zac Brown’s favorite songwriters Darrell Scott was next up to bat. He rose to fame writing and playing for the likes of Steve Earle, Sam Bush, and Guy Clark. Looking like Guy Fieri’s uncle, the spiky grey haired Nashville musician serenaded the talkative crowd to a picturesque song about Colorado entitled… wait for it….Colorado. After a few songs, two members of Zac Brown Band joined him. A couple of songs later most of the band was on stage playing with him including Zac Brown himself. Brown sang back up to No Easy Way and Long Time Gone (Scott’s song made famous by The Dixie Chicks). A curtain closed and the video screens displayed a five-minute count down clock. The anticipation for the main event grew stronger with each second ticking away.
|Zac Brown Band|
When the countdown clock reached zero, the curtain raised and the entire band including Darrell Scott appeared with impressive video screens and lighting displays making Coors Field glow. Wearing a top hat that looked like a lampshade stolen from your grandma’s house, Zac Brown kicked off the night with his hit Keep Me in Mind. Everyone around me sang along. The band kept the momentum going with Toes (a Jimmy Buffet like song inspired by a trip to Key West). The crowd chanting the chorus, “I got my toes in the water, ass in the sand/Not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand.”
|Zac Brown and his hat|
The Kings of Leon’s Use Somebody was the first genre changing cover of the night. You can tell the crowd was trying to place the song in the beginning. But after a few moments, the county fans were dancing along to the alternative rock hit. A few songs later, Ben Cameron (a singer Brown met at a campfire) sang Stephen Stills’ Love the One Your With. There was multiple “Do do do do do-do” sung throughout the ballpark. Caroline Jones came back to join the band for Tomorrow Never Comes. Not satisfied with just a duet, Zac Brown had the beer fueled audience join in by instructing them to sing, “Woo woo woo wooh.” They followed with the inspirational Free combined with Van Morrison’s Into the Mystic. The curtain lowered and the countdown clock started again because the show was only in its fifth inning.
|Zac Brown and Clay Cook|
When the curtain rose yet again, the band played John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High intertwined with Zac Brown’s own Colder Weather (a song about Colorado and the girl that was left behind). The Colorado crowd went crazy (pandering always works). Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody was next (Zac Brown wisely didn’t attempt to hit the high Freddie Mercury notes). Guitar player and keyboardist Clay Cook embodied the late Gregg Allman performing The Allman Brother’s Whipping Post. A long jam session started entertaining the band as much as the audience. Snapping the crowd out of the heartbreaking blues, a guitar duel between Coy Bowles and Clay Cook began. They played Jimi Hendrix, AC/DC, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Nirvana guitar licks. This lead up to the band playing Guns N’ Roses Paradise City inspiring the crowd to jump so high their cowboy hats were flying away. The night ended with the hit Chicken Fried with the crowd singing, “You know I like my chicken fried/Cold beer on a Friday night/A pair of jeans that fit just right/And the radio up.”
See you at the next show. I’ll be the one in the weird top hat trying to grow a beard with my pit pass.