Compared to airbrushed, frosted-bang pretty boys like the ones in Rascal Flatts, Atlanta's Zac Brown Band looks like it came straight to Nashville from a bare-knuckled dustup with the Kentucky Headhunters. However, the strand of Southern rock that Brown and company are steeped in most is the free-form Widespread Panic variety; their high harmonies and pickin' skills also make them one of the most bluegrass-sounding acts to make serious Music City inroads since either Alison Krauss or Ricky Skaggs. After several years of doing it the grassroots way, the band is starting to draw serious industry attention — breakthrough (and still breaking) single "Chicken Fried" has been downloaded more than a million times, and next month, the group will open several Midwestern dates for Keith Urban. This is a group of good ol' boys, albeit modern ones: Current single "Whatever It Is" sounds like second-generation Alabama, but the band is as likely to cover Pearl Jam's "Black" live as "The Devil Went Down to Georgia."
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