Thoughts from Day 2 of the Southern Ground Music & Food Festival as they issued forth from my music-soaked brain:
12:15pm - Made it on-site and checked in at the press area. Just like yesterday, there was a sizable crowd waiting to get in when the gates opened.
1:00pm - Levi Lowery kicks things off at the Landshark Lager Stage. A small but appreciative crowd of early birds are soaking up the music.
1:20pm - I grab some brisket and collards from the Home Team BBQ stand. Good gravy, but I love Home Team (and no, they are not paying me to say that). Word on the street is that they served so many people yesterday that they ran out of meat. I'm not surprised. Best barbecue in the Lowcountry in my opinion. Even Clay Cook raved about the place when I spoke to him earlier in the week.
1:30pm - JJ Grey & Mofro start the festivities on the main Jack Daniels Stage. This is an amazing band to see live, and they waste no time demonstrating why.
1:45pm - JJ Grey & Mofro just kicked into my favorite tunes of theirs, "Orange Blossoms." It's 75 degrees and another beautiful fall day in the Lowcountry. Day 2 is going to be great!
2:37pm - Nic Cowan & The Remedy are playing on the Landshark Lager Stage. I'm standing with a couple of friends and we're remarking how much Cowan sounds like Dave Matthews when he sings, and on the next song he sounds just like Jack Johnson. If someone were going to do a remake of Woody Allen's "Zelig," and set it in the music business, Cowan would be my pick for the lead role. That isn't to say that the band is bad, just... familiar.
3:05pm - Talked to one of the food vendors (not going to say who) that was apparently assaulted after the show ended last night. He was driving a golf cart back to his catering truck, and a group of drunk idiots hopped in like he was running a taxi service. An argument ensued as the vendor asked the idiots to get the hell out of his cart, and he ended up getting sucker punched in the eye. Kids, if you can't hold down a few beers without acting like a douche, then maybe stick to water, 'kay?
3:05pm - The Jerry Douglas Band is on the Jack Daniels Stage. Douglas seems to be doing a lot of adjusting to his dobro rig. Isn't he supposed to have someone to do that for him beforehand? Once they get going though, the band sounds pretty good.
3:20pm - Blackberry Smoke just walked into the press area. I saw them open for ZZ Top a few years ago at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center. At the time I'd never heard of them, and they did a great job warming up the crowd before That Little Ol' Band From Texas came out. Looking forward to their set later on.
4:05pm - Clay Cook is playing with a couple of friends, including Levi Lowery, on the Landshark Lager Stage. It's a very loose set, with the trio trading as many jokes as songs. At one point Cook waves off a request for The Beatles' "Blackbird," saying, "No, sorry, but I've been asked not to play that anymore. Paul McCartney actually asked me not to play that anymore." The bassist then did a passable McCartney Liverpool accent, saying, "Please stop playing my song." Lowery then mused, "I thought it was Michael Jackson's song." Perhaps you had to be there, but it was pretty hilarious.
4:15pm - During a discussion about The Wailers, the band that plays next, Cook tries to say "reggae" in a Jamaican accent, but winds up sounding more like Scotty from Star Trek. A discussion ensues as to what Scottish reggae would sound like, and the trio actually takes a stab at trying to play the idea that's in their brains for a moment, before collectively realizing the futility of such an exercise. Hilarity ensues. Again, you probably had to be there, but it was pretty funny.
4:30pm - The Wailers, Bob Marley's backing band, take the Jack Daniels Stage. Bob of course is not with them, having died in 1981, but The Wailers are still going strong. The stadium has collectively gone into chill mode.
4:47pm - Someone in the crowd remarks that Bob Marley would have been 70 this year (actually he would have been 67). His friend considers this for a moment, then replies, "Man, Bob Marley's dead."
5:11pm - "Is This Love," "Could You Be Loved," "Jamming," "Get Up, Stand Up," if you're into reggae, specifically Bob Marley's type, then The Wailers are delivering the goods right now.
5:14pm - "I Shot the Sheriff." Eric Clapton would be proud.
5:30pm - Sonia Leigh is performing on the Landshark Lager Stage and drawing a considerable crowd with her country/Americana sound.
6:05pm - Michael Franti & Spearhead take the Jack Daniels Stage, and the always energetic Franti wastes no time demonstrating why his band is such a dynamic live act. Franti dashes down the left-side row of Front Porch Stage Boxes and grabs a kid from the VIP crowd. He leads the boy back to the stage and has him jump up and down to the music. The kid seems thrilled and a little freaked out at the same time. Franti returns the child to his rightful owners, and delivers a set of mostly pop-oriented hits. He's not nearly as political in his music as he used to be, which may explain why he's found more widespread appeal.
6:50pm - Apparently the catwalks weren't getting him close enough to the crowd, because Franti has now hopped off the stage and waded into the east stands of the stadium. He sings a song from the cheap seats. The crowd is loving it.
7:00pm - Dusk has passed, and Franti gets the added benefit of the stage lights.
7:20pm - Franti is playing past his 7:15pm stop time, not that anyone minds. On the other end of the Fest grounds, Blackberry Smoke can be heard rumbling to life. It appears they aren't going to wait for Franti to finish.
7:25pm - Franti finishes with his big radio hit, "Say Hey (I Love You)," much to the delight of the crowd. I head over to catch a bit of Blackberry Smoke at the Landshark Lager Stage.
7:30 - Blackberry Smoke is tearing it up. They are also apparently experiencing some equipment problems, but their lead singer shrugs it off, saying, "That's the way it goes sometimes."
7:34pm - Blackberry Smoke deliver what has to be the most badass song introduction ever, saying, "This song is about a bar fight we got into a few years back. It's called 'Sleeping Dogs.'"
7:36pm - Blackberry Smoke throws a bit of the Allman Brothers' "Midnight Rider" into "Sleeping Dogs," but just enough to get a cheer from the crowd.
7:55pm - The stadium lights go out, and the Zac Brown Band kicks into "You Get What You Give." "All right, day two. It's on," says Brown after finishing the tune.
8:10pm - "It's Not OK," which the band played last night too, gets just as big a reaction the second night. I have to admit it's growing on me.
8:19pm - Brown welcomes back John Mayer and Gregg Allman, who both performed with the band on Saturday night. Allman plays two Allman Brothers tunes, "One Way Out" and "Melissa," the latter of which is an especially huge crowd pleaser.
8:30pm - "Jump Right In," another repeat from Saturday, complete with video screen cue cards for the audience sing along.
8:40pm - "Who Knows," an upbeat ZBB tune that has a group of my friends dancing around on the soccer field's grass.
9:00pm - Clay Cook performs a half country/sort of jazzed-out cover of The Beatles' "Blackbird." It's the same song he waved off earlier in the day during his solo set. Not the best attempt at the tune, but interesting nonetheless.
9:10pm - "Toes," yet another repeat from Saturday. I understand the need to play the hits that the fans want to hear, but Zac, buddy, could you mix it up a bit more next year? To be fair, the audience loves it, singing the "Adios and vaya con Dios" part of the chorus with gusto. Oh, did I mention that there will be a next year? Brown announced early in the band's set that there would be a third year of Southern Ground.
9:14pm - John Mayer returns with Sarah Dugas in tow, and they play a soulful version of "I Shall Be Released."
9:21pm - Mayer stays onstage to play guitar while Brown sings Mayer's "Queen of California." Yet another repeat from Saturday, but Mayer's guitar solo is better tonight.
9:30pm - "Free," which transitions into Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic"... just like it did on Saturday.
9:40pm - "This is a song from a father to a son," says Brown by way of introducing "Highway 20 Ride." At the end of the song, Brown's father comes out on stage and hugs his son.
9:52pm - A fairly straightforward cover of Widespread Panic's "Ain't Life Grand," followed by a barn burner version of The Charlie Daniels Band's "The Devil Went Down To Georgia." The band bids the crowd good night, but very few folks leave.
10:04pm - The encore includes "Keep Me in Mind," as well as an epic cover of Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb." After one more tune, the second annual Southern Ground Music & Food Festival is history. With a crowd estimated at more than 12,000 on Saturday and an equally robust attendance on Sunday, it's safe to say that we can look forward to the 2013 edition.