Zac Brown’s soulful country rocks the Waterfront

 Photo by Jody Devost for Zac Brown

All day long, it threatened to rain – but the predicted downpour stayed away for the duration of the Zac Brown Band’s set on the Bangor Waterfront Saturday night. Rain jackets, ponchos and hot chocolate were in heavy supply, and every other conversation overheard was about the weather, but in the end, only grey skies and an unseasonably cool breeze were to be had.

A near capacity crowd – the largest so far this concert season – filled the Waterfront, ranging in age from college students to retirees. The Zac Brown Band is renowned for its eclectic take on country music, and its diverse, devoted fan base came out in full force to enjoy the show. The band responded by playing an extra-long set, to the delight of nearly everyone in attendance.

“My son introduced me to them, and oh, I think they’re just the best. I’m a big fan,” said Annie Thompson, of Freeport, who came to the show with her husband and her friend Tina. “I love coming to the Waterfront. I think this is such a neat venue. I’m really proud of Bangor.”

Zac Brown and company came out swinging with hit single “Keep Me In Mind,” off their 2010 album “You Get What You Give.” They followed it up with a fan favorite, “Whiskey’s Gone,” and another hit single, “Knee Deep,” before previewing a song from their upcoming album, “Uncaged,” set to be released on July 10. The Zac Brown Band is anything but your typical country band, with a list of influences a mile long – from funk to jazz to Latin to classic rock. One of the highlights of the show was a medley of Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely,” into John Mayer’s “Neon,” with an expansive jam in the middle featuring all the members of the band showcased on their instruments, wavering between country, rock and reggae. Not only is Zac Brown an excellent songwriter – he’s a diverse, talented guitarist and bandleader as well.

Opening for Zac Brown were Nic Cowan and Sonia Leigh. Cowan plays a relaxed, funky kind of acoustic rock, not unlike ZBB favorites John Mayer, or Jack Johnson. Leigh is a true spitfire – dark-haired, honest and energetic, with a raspy voice reminiscent of Melissa Etheridge or Brandi Carlisle. Leigh asked the crowd – just before launching into a spirited cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” – to ask their local country radio stations to play her songs, because even though she’s nothing like Taylor Swift or Carrie Underwood, she’s got a true blue, unique country voice. Leigh, like Zac Brown, is a country maverick – she plays what she wants, she stays true to her roots, and her audience loves her for it.

Photo by Jody Devost for Waterfront Concerts

Emily Burnham

About Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native, a UMaine graduate, a proud Bangorian and an arts and lifestyle writer for the Bangor Daily News, where she's worked since 2004. She reports on everything from local bands to local food, from media and the Internet to theater and dance. In her quest for stories, she's seen countless concerts and plays, been lobster fishing, interviewed celebrities, hung out with water buffalo and played in a ukulele orchestra, to name just a few. She's interested in everything -- especially if it happens in Maine. She welcomes any and all feedback or suggestions for stories.