Dishing with Zac Brown

We talk swimmin' holes and life lessons with musician Zac Brown, who happens to be one heck of a nice guy.
Interview by: Jennifer V. Cole

Tell us about the sound of your new album, Uncaged.
I think it's the best record we've made. There's some light fun tracks, an R & B tune, a little island music, real heavy singer-songwriter stuff, some bluegrass. It's a good journey—a good snapshot of where we are and how we've matured as a band.

Why did you launch your own label?
I started in the music business sitting on a barstool, wringing beer out of my tip money. I understand the journey of an artist. And I want to really mentor people who have mojo, can write their own songs, and give themselves to their music.

What is Camp Southern Ground?
We've got 500 acres in Fayetteville, Georgia. Starting next year, it will be a sleepaway camp that integrates all children: mainstream, underprivileged, and those with special needs (campsouthernground.org). We'll have an organic farm on-site, so kids can learn nutrition and where food comes from. By being with all kinds of kids, [the campers] will gain a greater understanding of other people.

What's on the play-list when your toes are in the water?
Definitely Bob Marley. I never get tired of Legend. Ryan Adams, Ray LaMontagne, Amos Lee. Stuff that really takes you somewhere with the music.

Beach or swimmin' hole—which one?
I'm a river rat. That's where I grew up and any time that I can get away, I'm straight up in the river, even in the spring when your feet go numb from the cold.

You've got a cookbook and now a restaurant. It seems food is a big part of your life.
In the South, you gather around food. Your kitchen is your living room, whether you want it to be or not. Some artists do backstage meet-and-greets; I do an Eat & Greet. And we've just opened the Southern Ground Social Club, a mash-up of great Southern food, art gallery, knife shop, leather shop, and tattoo parlor in Senoia.

What do you want to teach your four daughters?
I want them to grow up canning in the kitchen with us and making preserves. To learn what it means to really fish. What it means to have a job. I want to make sure they know that there's no free ride. You don't want spoiled kids in high school that end up being worthless later on. I want to teach them perspective. That's important.

Last thing scribbled on a paper napkin?
A house and stick figures of our family with my daughters.