20 October 2018 (released)
20 October 2018
BluesFest Director Leo Green says they have been pursuing the Zac Brown Band to perform at the event since it started and finally they have them. They will fill the Saturday slot (27th October 2018) at the O2 in London, with support from Beth Hart. And while Beth's back catalogue clearly has a blues connection, that is something less obvious with Zac Brown Band.
"There is definitely an issue being able to pigeon-hole us, and that's something we like" says the band's guitarist John Driskell Hopkins, who's chatting over the phone to Music News from the States before they fly over for the one-off show. "A lot of our singles are obviously country influenced or country sounding, but our albums have different feels from release to release and track to track."
He's excited about the prospect of performing at the festival - especially with Robert Plant and Van Morrison also on the weekend line-up; "Van is the man, I am kinda gutted not to be there to see him. We have to fly in that day and won't get to see any of the others but to be part of a festival with his name on is amazing."
This is a rare visit to the UK for the Grammy-winning Southern-rockers and they know some of the fans won't know them that well; "We have to win some of the people over I am sure. The set-list we do in Europe has to be different because the singles are not always the same. We will also have to think about some of our more bluesy songs to make sure we do win over those less familiar fans. We have an Excel spreadsheet from all of our gigs which means we tend not to repeat the songs very much on any tour. Island Song is one we do in the UK but not always in the United States."
The band are known for blurring the boundaries between country, blues, reggae and rock and that can sometimes be an issue; "There have been festivals when crowds are slow to accept us but more often than not they are eventually and our sound connects. We have done some amazing festivals over the years. We have played Australia and on the same bill as Bonnie Raitt and sometimes you have to pinch yourself. We have also appeared on records with the likes of Amos Lee, who's such an amazing singer. You work with them and you are just "wow" what an honour."
The band are currently in between records and John tells us recording on new material could start in the New Year but there is no rush. Reflecting on the changing market place for music and the way we consume it he expresses concern about the album; "You had bands like Radiohead that develop and fans like to be part of that. I am not sure Spotify allows for that in the same way and I hope the album does not die. I think we are suffering growing pains with streaming and the industry must work hard to ensure the important things remain important and there is revenue opportunity for artists."
Launched in 2011, BluesFest has become one of Europe’s leading roots festivals. Artists who have performed before include BB King, Bobby Womack, Hall & Oates, Gregory Porter, Elvis Costello and Steely Dan.
2018's Line up is:
25th October - John Fogerty and Steve Miller Band
26th October - Rpbert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters plus Van Morrison
27th October - Zac Brown Band and Beth Hart
28th October - Counting Crows and Alison Krauss