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Zac Brown Band loves country, but not afraid to cross into other musical genres

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Southern rock

What: The Zac Brown Band performs with opening acts Blackberry Smoke and Levi Lowrey.
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Memorial Coliseum, 4000 Parnell Ave.
Cost: Reserved tickets are $69.50, $59.50 and $45. General admission floor tickets are $69.50. Extra fees may apply. Tickets can be purchased at the Memorial Coliseum box office, all Ticketmaster outlets, some Walmart stores or charge-by-phone at 1-800-745-3000. Parking is $4 general lot, $8 preferred lot.
Etc: If you are a member of the Zamily fan club you can purchase a pass for the eat-and-greet when you buy your tickets. Southern Ground Executive Chef Rusty Hamlin will serve southern fare from “Cookie” — the band's custom mobile kitchen.

Thursday, January 10, 2013 - 12:01 am

The Zac Brown Band's music may cross genres, but at its heart “we're inescapably Southern,” says Coy Bowles, who plays keyboards and guitar for the band.

“I think country music is kind of about being real and genuine and living life that way,” he said in a telephone interview.

The band will be at Memorial Coliseum on Friday, along with opening acts Blackberry Smoke and Levi Lowrey, both on Zac Brown's Southern Ground Artists label.

And although “we wouldn't be where we are without country fans and country radio,” the band is confident enough to cross genres, said Bowles, who added that, as a musician in the band, he is constantly “shifting gears, learning the intricacies of different genres and songs.”

The band's latest album, “Uncaged,” released in July, is an example of the band's versatility, with traditional country songs, reggae and R&B.

Bowles says the band's tendency to “go to the beat of our own drum sets us apart from some other country acts.”

And the Zac Brown Band does its own thing without fear of alienating its fan base.

“We value country radio and country fans a lot,” Bowles said. “We don't underestimate the integrity of our listeners, so we're not scared to step outside the box. If it's good music, it's good music.”

Band members and artists on the label collaborated on songwriting for “Uncaged.” “Everybody had songs nobody had ever heard of before coming in,” said Bowles, speaking of an intensive workshop where songs were selected and arranged.

“If you come up with a main melody or whatever, everybody kind of agrees you are part of the writing, which is pretty cool, because that stuff becomes kind of sticky,” Bowles said. “We leave our egos checked at the door. It allows us to get really creative.”

He said the band members' work ethic is the “glue that holds us together.” That, and Zac Brown's “leadership and his business savvy and also his voice.”

Bowles said Brown's delivery is one reason the band is able to cross some genres. “It never sounds contrived with him,” he said.

The Zac Brown Band has previously won two Grammy Awards, Best New Artist in 2010 and Best Country Collaboration with Vocals in 2011 for “As She's Walking Away” featuring Alan Jackson. “Uncaged” is nominated for a 2013 Grammy Award for Best Country Album.

“The Grammys are a big deal,” Bowles said. “It's the most legitimate award you can receive as a musician.”

What's next for the Zac Brown Band?

Bowles said the group will be playing overseas, including in Australia. The band also plans to step up its stage show, “upgrading lights and videos and coming up with cooler ideas,” Bowles said.