Zac Brown Band have canceled their signature Southern Ground Music & Food Festival for 2017, promising a return to Charleston, South Carolina, in 2018. According to the festival website, the band plans to "take this time to focus on the new album, Welcome Home," which arrives on May 12th.
Originally scheduled for May 20th and 21st, the annual experience held at Charleston's MUSC Health Stadium had not announced any performers for the upcoming edition. The 2016 staging took place last April and included performances by Kacey Musgraves, Thomas Rhett, Muddy Magnolias, Bruce Hornsby and many others.
Established in 2011 and curated by Zac Brown Band, the festival has aimed to present an eclectic group of musicians from country and other genres, along with dining options overseen by some top-notch culinary talent. It's had a few hiccups over its brief history, expanding into the Nashville market in 2012 but leaving after only two years. More recently, the festival moved from its original fall slot – skipping 2015 entirely – to new spring dates in 2016, with organizers citing tough competition during football season.
The band's new album Welcome Home has been positioned, in Brown's words, as a move "back to our roots," after the wide-ranging genre experiments of 2015's Jekyll + Hyde. The album's first single "My Old Man," a gentle, largely acoustic number about father-son relationships, certainly seems to validate that claim.
While the Southern Ground Festival is a bust for 2017, Zac Brown Band will still be headlining their extensive Welcome Home Tour through spring, summer and fall. The trek begins with a release-day show on May 12th at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park outside Atlanta, and includes multiple dates in many cities. The group is also scheduled to headline roots music festival Merlefest in Wilkesboro, North Carolina on April 30th.