If you haven't heard of Caroline Jones yet, you're missing out. On top of being one of Rolling Stone's "10 Country Artists You Need to Know," Caroline has focused her efforts on The Heart is Smart Initiative and School Tour. This tour not only helped inspire students, but also sought to "give them a medium of expression through music." We were proud to host an artist with such an outstanding focus on putting music in the hands of students.
And we haven't even gotten to her performance yet! Jones has a voice to remember - powerful and fully capable of carrying dramatic melodies, but also with the capacity to emote wonderfully. She sang bluegrass ballads and her biggest hits with a Pavilion sunset shining on her face. We can't wait to see what Caroline Jones does next.
Darrell Scott was up next. We walked away from his set thinking one thing: this is a man with soul. The bio on his website reads just like one of his songs - it flows from topic to topic, carrying emotions and ideas and never really letting you out of its drift.
With a guitar in Scott's hands, it seems there's precious little that can't be done. All alone or with a band behind him, Scott's music hit us hard with every twist and turn. He may be a journeyman and he may have been doing this for a while, but the journey seems to have only informed his music - creating something new and more full.
As he played his set, members of The Zac Brown Band began to join Scott on stage. When the full band had assembled, Zac included, they all sat on the steps on stage and played a few songs. It felt just like they were sitting on a front porch - laughing, smiling, hollering and harmonizing with the very best of them.
Without a word of warning, we were tossed into the midst of a mind-blowing Zac Brown Band show. Zac and his crew didn't pull any punches - one of their first few songs was Kings of Leon's "Use Somebody". The band made it clear from the very beginning: "This isn't about us. It's about you." We just sat back and enjoyed the ride.
With Darrell Scott right beside him, Zac led his dynamic band through a tour de force of ZBB favorites. They played new songs and old classics and brought something special to the table with each. The band welcomed Caroline Jones up to help sing a song, then invited a local student to the stage to help Zac sing the opening verse of "Colder Weather". We couldn't believe the inventive ways this band found to entertain - whether it was letting guitar solos rip at the end of a song or covering a classic, they consistently amazed.
The show closed in the only way it possibly could have: with a guitar battle between two of Zac's outrageously talented bandmates, featuring decades of classic guitar solos. Our favorite was hearing the iconic opening riff of Nirvana's "Smell's Like Teen Spirit" bounce around The Pavilion's tent. The full band returned for a cover of "Paradise City" that had so much energy and force behind it that it nearly knocked us off our feet.
Zac Brown Band blew us away on every level - we just hope you were there to see it!