This morning was hardly the first time that Zac Brown Band has made itself at home in Rockefeller Plaza for “Today.” It's hard to believe that in only five years, this eight-man ensemble has gone from local haunts to three Grammys, multiplatinum albums, and filling mega-sized arenas. Their new album Welcome Home marks a return to their roots, literally, and a remarkable first in songwriting. At a usual Zac Brown Band show, the most faithful of fans are treated to a feast of Southern cuisine. There were no chefs or tables today in NYC, but the fans who camped overnight and drove many miles still feasted on the richness of heartfelt songs and real love from their favorite band.

Not just love from Hoda

Glowing co-host and new mom, Hoda Kotb, never keeps her fervent love for country music a secret. She's a diehard Zac Brown Band fan and wore her favorite shirt to state the fact. The thousands in attendance wore their love on their sleeves, with tattoos, hats like their heroes, and singing every note. Hoda took the honors in introducing “Homegrown.” The hit was released in January 2015 from the “Jekyll + Hyde” collection. The tune extols the simple life creed of “having everything I need and nothing that I don't” and it set the mood of the morning perfectly as preschoolers to grandparents gathered right up front to sing along.

Back to basic ‘Roots’

Zac Brown described how “Welcome Home” was both a return to sounds like in the band’s “Foundation” album and also a groundbreaking effort.

“This is the first time we have written all the songs on an album,” Brown stressed. “We've always just had a collection of songs that fit our message” in creating albums before, but this time, an organic focus took over. The all-original songs came together, and the album was recorded in six days.

Rolling Stone commended this fifth album for being still “steeped in the traditions” of earlier work yet keeping the “rootsy instrumentation” that rings through any Zac Brown Band song.

Being united together on a single cylinder only adds to the power of the music and its family themes of “Welcome Home,” Hoda Kotb had her arm around Zac, speaking “Don't leave,” before the band led into “My Old Man.”

This moving musical tribute is destined to be included among other country classics like “Daddy’s Hands” or Chris Stapleton's more recent “Daddy Doesn't Pray Anymore.” It’s earnest affection to “feel the callous” on the hands of a father who stayed steadfast from birth through inevitable rebellion and into manhood is palpable.

Zac Brown's eyes filled with emotion as he witnessed virtually every voice in the crowd singing the words of the new ballad back to him. Zac said he is constantly lifted by the “turbine of energy” that he feels from the fans and feels the true kinship.

Rounding out

Al Roker introduced “Roots.” The song is a love song to the love of music that drives every artist and elaborates on the dream of every artist to play with their heroes “that we cover every night." The final sonic treat Offered by Zac Brown Band for the morning was “Family Table,” a song that echoes with every good memory of home and “room for one more” around a table marked by time and love.

Clay Cook, Matt Mangano, John Driskell Hopkins, Chris Fryar, Coy Bowles, Jimmy De Martini, and Daniel de los Reyes join Zac Brown on a world tour starting May 26.

Some dates already have sold out. “Welcome Home” currently holds the #2 spot in country and #4 in pop for album rankings.

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