The Zac Brown Tribute Band brings a little country to UB

Band plays in latest tailgate concert series


It’s one thing to be a cover band; it’s quite another to be a Grammy winning cover band.

The Zac Brown Tribute Band paid homage to one of music’s most famous country folk groups Saturday in Stampede Square, before the Bulls’ 20-14 loss to Central Michigan, as part of UB’s Tailgate Concert Series. Their set covered a range of the band’s music, from original songs to multiple covers.

The seven-piece group has been playing together since 2012. What sets them apart from other tribute bands, or any band in general, is that all seven members sing, which allows them to create complex harmonies. These harmonies are not only similar to the original band’s sound, but provide a distinctive element to the tribute band’s show.

“I’ve seen the Zac Brown Band before, and this group gives them a run for their money,” said Sandy Kantz, 45, from Amherst. “I had low expectations, especially from a tribute group, but they blew me away.”

The tribute band has a method to their music – according to their website, they try to learn a new song every week. They have multiple set lists prepared for their gigs, filled with songs like “Sweet Emotion,” “Highway 20 Ride” and “Settle Me Down.”

Two electric guitars, two acoustic guitars, a violin, a piano and a drum set create the band’s smooth country sound. The band’s slow-paced lyrics are relaxing and compliment the strong voices of the singers.

Their diverse performances are what makes the Zac Brown Band appealing to such a broad audience range – from old to young, even father to son.

“I came here with my dad, because he likes the Zac Brown Band,” said Joe Castanza, 19, from Niagara Falls. “Now I’ve found a band that I can listen to and enjoy and my dad was able to see a concert he thought gave the original band justice.”

The group tours all over New York and creates set lists catered for the venues they are playing. Aside from just playing shows for fun, the band attempts to help children in need by playing at benefit concerts. They raised more than $3,000 in 2013 at a fundraiser they helped to develop, and plan to continue working to help children.

“We’re here to put on a show that’s just as good, if not better than, the original group,” said frontman Matt Stephens. “And if you think we’re doing a good job, let us know.”

Though everyone in the band sings, the group has three frontmen that cover songs while the other members harmonize. The three frontmen pass vocal responsibility between them depending on the song.

A brisk wind that intensified toward the end of the show didn’t stop fans from staying until the last chord was played. The group exited the stage to applause from the audience, who were begging for a longer set than the 90-minute show.

Despite being a tribute band, the band transforms the original band’s sound into their own.

The final Tailgate Concert Series performance will feature Frankie Ballard on Nov. 11 at 6 p.m. – two hours before the Bulls’ game against Akron.