Next week, September 22nd, multi-platinum, 3x-Grammy Award-winning Zac Brown Band will bring their “Out in the Middle Tour” to The Ryman Auditorium. Joining the band once again will be Caroline Jones, who performed as a special guest during last year’s tour, and Robert Randolph Band, who will open the show. Zac Brown Band is one of the most successful touring acts of the last decade. To date, the group’s sold more than 30 million singles and 9 million albums, amassed over 10 billion catalog streams, and achieved 16 #1 radio singles (with the latest being “Same Boat” from “The Comeback Album”). catalog streams and achieved 16 #1 radio singles (with the latest being “Same Boat” from “The Comeback Album”).
A portion of the tour proceeds will benefit ‘Hop On A Cure’ in its efforts to help fund research toward making amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) a “thing of the past.” The foundation was established by one of the band’s founding members, John Driskell “Hop” Hopkins, who was diagnosed with ALS earlier this year. Hop On A Cure is committed to supporting research to prevent, reverse, and cure ALS while raising awareness: http://hoponacure.org
It’s 5 Questions with Zac Brown Band members Matt Mangano (bass) and Coy Bowles (guitar).
TRIBUNE: You guys have an upcoming concert next week at The Ryman. What is it like performing there?
MATT: “The Ryman is just a very special place to play for a musician. And it’s a special place to be even if you’re not a musician. There’s such an incredible history in that building. It’s the original home of the Grand Ole Opry…There’s something sacred that The Ryman holds that makes both the performers and audience members kind of adhere to the rules of this place. So, it’s kind of like sacred ground. It makes you feel spiritually connected to something higher.”
TRIBUNE: And to further speak of historic venues, I understand The Zac Brown Band was recently inducted into the Fenway Park Hall of Fame.
COY: “I think we’re the third act to be inducted along with Billy Joel, Paul McCartney, and us. It’s very different than, say, the Ryman because of the magnitude of the venue, but it’s one of the venues that whenever we play it that year, it’s kind of somewhat of the highlight of the tour. It also has kind of a sacred energy to it too. For some reason, Boston really loves our band. We’re kind of almost like Boston’s home team band or something.”
TRIBUNE: Are there any band members who are Boston Red Sox fans or baseball fans?
MATT: “I wear a Red Sox cap almost every day.”
COY: “I’m also a big Boston Red Sox fan. I’ve been friends with former Red Sox pitcher Jake Peavy when he was with the team. Our whole band just kind of ended up wearing the Boston Red Sox caps pretty often because of our love for the city of Boston. I think most of us Atlanta guys are rather hardcore Braves fans, but we kind of adopted the Red Sox as our second favorite team in baseball.”
TRIBUNE: I understand that a portion of the proceeds from your current tour will benefit the www.Hoponacure.org organization.
MATT: “Yes, one of our fellow bandmates, John Driskell “Hop” Hopkins, was recently diagnosed with ALS. One of the things Hop is trying to do is to bring awareness to what ALS is and how much of a struggle it is once it’s diagnosed. Hop is just a beast of a person. He’s amazing—such a survivor! This is Hop’s way of facing the diagnosis by giving back and spending his time and energy on making a difference with trying to find a cure.”
COY: “Hop is dealing with the diagnosis with such grace. He’s created this nonprofit and we’re supporting Hop On a Cure by giving money from the ticket sales to his organization. It’s just basically us supporting our brother as he goes through one of the most difficult things that he’s going to face.”
TRIBUNE: When touring, are there any Odd Couple types in the group—an “Oscar” or “Felix” neat vs messy types?
COY: “There’s not one person who’s just the clean guy and one who’s the messy guy. I’m kind of the guy who likes to joke around a lot with everybody. I wish that more people knew how much Zac Brown Band loves to laugh. We’re all really good friends and we have a lot of inside jokes. We keep it fun and light out on the road.”
MATT: “And then you throw Caroline Jones in the mix, and it gets really funny. She’s definitely like our baby sister. Such a talented person with a great attitude. I don’t know if just anybody could have just walked into a tour like this with such confidence and understanding as she’s done. Caroline’s been a great fit with us. She brings a lot of cool energy to the tour.”