Next Best Thing – ZBTB Takes Over Nicole’s of Camden

Every once in a while you just need a dose of your favorite bands live? What do you do if they are in the studio recording, or touring overseas, or just not coming anywhere within earshot of you? You do the next best thing, you catch a cover band.

Zach Brown Tribute Band - Nicole's of Camden
Zac Brown Tribute Band – Nicole’s of Camden

Every musical photojournalist has a “bucket list” of sorts. This list includes the names of bands that they must cover as well as ones if they come to town they would like to cover. The difference between the two lists is simple. The must cover shows will include ungodly amounts of travel, with little to no sleep for the following day, only to stand on a bucket and shoot 30 seconds of a song, to capture a shot they hope when cropped, is still in focus and not too pixellated. The ones they would like to cover require less travel, usually no bucket is involved, and if they are tired they may just miss it if they have something pressing the next day at their day job. I’m happy to say that I have had the opportunity to check a few off my must cover list. However, there is one band still on my list I’m hoping to check it off real soon. Until then, a good cover will suffice. What band would I be referring to? Well the Zac Brown Band my friends.

ZBTB - Nicole's of Camden
Zac Brown Band

We all love them. Since the first time we heard “Chicken Fried”, we’ve tapped out toes and raised a glass to “salute the ones who died, those ones that gave their lives, so we don’t have to sacrifice all the things we love; like our chicken fried”. Come on, you know the words, don’t be shy. Well this may have been the first song that captured my attention, but what held it has been the diverse mix of music they’ve created since that first tune hit the charts. There’s something unique about the Zac Brown Band that makes them so very special. I love their blend of sounds. This mix of Caribbean flare with country bluegrass, and a touch of seventies and eighties rock gives them their unique sound.  It hooked me and keeps me on the line following them as they amass their catalog of music and fans worldwide.

When I learned that a new venue in Camden, Nicole’s of Camden, would be featuring a Zac Brown Tribute Band (ZBTB), I knew I had to take the drive to check out this new venue and this cover band. So glad I did. The venue is amazing. Nicole’s of Camden offers great acoustics and awesome lighting with plenty of space to dance. For a small venue it’s the perfect setting for bands and attendees to enjoy enough room to dance and play comfortably. The completely revamped restaurant/bar offers patrons the perfect spot for a night out. With a full menu and bar, I highly recommend you taking a drive to Camden to take in one of their many shows and some good eats.

Opening the evening were locals Mad River Junction. This band brought the party with their renditions of some Stray Cats, Jerry Lee Lewis, Tom Petty, and Johnny Cash. Any band that plays Stevie Ray Vaughn gets my automatic stamp of approval. Describing themselves as the love child of Cyndi Lauper and Muddy Waters, who ultimately is raised by Prince, Neil Young, and Bret Michaels, I totally can see that love child(ren) becoming Mad River Junction. Kudos to band members, or love children, Matt Chalifoux on drums/percussion, Nick Pulizzi, on guitar and vocal, Greg Owens on guitar, bass, and vocals. And Kenny “The Demon” Swavely on harmonica. Really enjoyed this set.

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As the ZBTB took the stage and began to play, it was crystal clear that this cover band recognized the one key quality that makes the original Zac Brown Band special, the individual instrumentation brought to the sound by each original band member. The ZBTB recognized how to replicate that sound and bring their audiences the musical magic they would expect to see from their beloved original band by providing a full band to back up some amazing vocals. Pete Frank fronts the group with his spot on vocals and acoustic guitar. If you closed your eyes, you would be hard pressed to tell a difference. I was super impressed. Joining him on vocals and guitar was Matthew Stephens who rocked the crowd as he shredded some amazing Metallic “Enter Sandman”  towards the end of the evening, setting the crowd over the top. For those of you that know me well know I’m a sucker for a fiddle, and Mike Kedley is one of the best in the state. Joining in on fiddle and vocals, Mike brings that down home country bluegrass sound you come to expect from the Zac Brown Band. Also on vocals and guitar we had Jeremy Laursen who with his harmonies take these songs to a new level. On that background beat we had Tim Hull on bass, and Joey Saliceti on keyboards pounding out the tunes and undertones. And keeping the whole lot of the bunch in time we had Danny Roelle on drums/percussion. With this full band playing Zac Brown favorites such as “Knee Deep”, “Sweet Annie”, “Whatever It Is”, and “As She’s Walking Away”, I felt as though my need for a bit of Zac Brown Band was satiated by this cover band, and could totally fill my need any time I couldn’t see the real deal.

ZBTB - Nicole's of Camden
ZBTB – Nicole’s of Camden

Starting their set list with Zac Brown Band favorites and covering some of the most popular covers the band played two full sets of music covering all of my personal favorites and then a few more. Dancing the night away was a full house of patrons who concurred with my sentiments fully. Overall, I wholeheartedly gave a thumps up to this cover band for doing the original Zac Brown Band justice and suggest you check them out soon in a venue near you.

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Set 1

Natural Disaster Let It Rain
The Wind
No Hurry
Let It Go
Midnight Rider
As She’s Walking Away
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down Jump Right In
Ants Marching/Frankenstein Whiskey’s Gone
Sweet Annie
Make This Day
All Alright
Can’t You See
Times Like These
Colder Weather
Toes

Set 2
We’re An American Band Day For The Dead Comfortably Numb
Knee Deep
Settle Me Down
Whatever It Is
Keep Me In Mind
Sic ‘Em On A Chicken
One Way Out
Highway 20 Ride
Enter Sandman
Free/Into The Mystic
Chicken Fried
Uncaged/Kashmir/Devil Went Down To Georgia Killing In The Name