December 14, 2009 05:55 PM

When Zac Brown found out his band was nominated for the best new artist Grammy, a spontaneous party broke out in his living room.

“I was home with my family watching TV when they announced the nominations,” the Zac Brown Band frontman tells PEOPLE. “And we just danced. Our kids are 3, 2 and 2 months, so they’re a little too young to understand, but they were still dancing around with us!”

Brown, who’s the 11th of 12 kids himself, says he was flooded with congratulatory texts and phone calls when the news came out. “My family is very proud.”

His band – also nominated for best country performance and album – has come a long way. Best known for their hit “Chicken Fried,” off their album The Foundation, the Zac Brown Band has been touring for 13 years, a lifestyle that comes with its own unique ups and downs, especially in their humble beginnings.

“I do miss the intimacy that you have with the fans while playing in bars,” says Brown. Not having a fancy tour bus can be fun, too. “And I miss staying up all night in strangers’ living rooms, sitting around playing music,” he says with a laugh.

The downside of his grassroots beginnings?

“Other people’s cigarettes,” Brown says. “I don’t miss that!”

Looking ahead to Grammy night, should Brown win one of the coveted statues, he already knows just what he’ll do with it.

RELATED: 5 Things to Know About MGMT
“I don’t like to keep awards and stuff – I’d rather give them to friends and people who’ve helped me along the way,” he says. “But a Grammy, I may have to hang on to. I’ll keep it down in my man cave.”

Watch the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards on Jan. 31 at 8 p.m. ET/PT,live on CBS – and catch up on all the news and style from the show on!

You May Like