January 31-February 3, 2017
Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya
Puerto Aventuras, Mexico
It felt so great to return to Mexico for Castaway with Southern Ground 2017! Surrounded by both new friends and old, we felt right at home as we arrived at the Hard Rock Riviera Maya, ready for another unforgettable 4 days in paradise.
Soul and roots rocker JJ Grey & Mofro held the honor of kicking off the musical festivities. Their raw southern sound and excellent musicianship fit right in with the Castaway crowd before we we enjoyed another group of reggae legends for the 2nd year in a row, Toots & the Maytals! The Jamaican icons treated us to 90 minutes of sweet Caribbean rhythms that us up and dancing, launching us into complete vacation mode! The next day, Zac Brown Band brought the rhythms of their own as they played a sweet afternoon set for us, wrapping up just as the sun began to set over the Mayan Riviera. Appropriately kicking things off with the quintessential beach song, “Knee Deep”, ZBB then moved onto to a handful of fun covers including Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower”, Garth Brooks’ “The Thunder Rolls”, and Tom Petty’s “Running Down a Dream” all on top of his classics including “Chicken Fried” and of course, “Castaway”! Just a little ways down the beach, we then enjoyed 2 awesome shows at the Hacienda Lagoon from both Brian Collins & Friends as well as Maureen Murphy & Jason Eskridge. But the music for the night wasn’t over yet, as we headed back to the MainStage for back to back sets from Muddy Magnolias and Maren Morris. Both shows featured the sweet yet powerful voices of their female leaders, backed up by excellent musicians performing songs that had us smiling all night.
The music on the 3rd day began with Corey Harper out at the Lagoon, a sweet acoustic affair that served as a perfect warm up for the sets from up and coming country star Margo Price and Mexican guitar gurus Rodrigo y Gabriela that followed! Talk about an action packed night of music. Once day 3 rolled around, we were all hungry for some more Zac Brown Band, but not before enjoying a Happy Hour jam from some of its members. Clay, Coy, and others led a fun set down at the lagoon with the backdrop of a beautiful sunset helping make the vibe just right. Next up was Drake White & the Big Fire, who’s unique and infectious country sound fit right in with the music of the week. Once again mixing a wide range of covers with his own classics, Zac and the the guys began their set with Steve Miller Band’s “Swingtown”, before jumping right into “Jump Right In”, “Uncaged”, and “Beautiful Drug” to go along with songs like Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” and Nathaniel Rateliff’s “S.O.B.”. By the time the show ended with “Homegrown”, we were all satisfied knowing we had for days worth of vacation memories with friends we’ll never forget!
But while the music brought us down to Mexico, it was all the extras that really made the experience so special. Some of the biggest highlights were the Songwriting Workshop with some of the guys from ZBB, Jimmy’s Boot Camp, the Drake White/Chef Rusty judged Margarita Making Contest, and an awesome afternoon of BINGO out at the pool that benefitted Positive Legacy and Camp Southern Ground.
Thank you all for helping make Castaway with Southern Ground such an amazing vacation for everyone!