DARIUS RUCKER has become South Carolina’s biggest-ever country music star. You may now stop calling him Hootie.
(Hilton Head Monthly, November 2010) Veterans of the local music scene talk about a time, 20 or so years ago, when it was still possible to hit local bars like the Old Post Office and see bands on the brink of national fame. At the time Hilton Head played host to a good number of future stars, including Duncan Sheik and Edwin McCain, but nobody blew up nearly like the University of South Carolina classmates in Hootie and the Blowfish — which you already know if you ever left your house in 1994-95.
Popular music marched on, of course, but Hootie stuck around, dropping occasional records, returning to Hilton Head for big local gigs at Honey Horn and Sea Pines and generally maintaining a career of consistent, unsurprising solidity.
The surprise, when it came, was a good one.
In 2008, pretty much out of nowhere, Hootie singer Darius Rucker released his debut solo country record, “Learn to Live,” on the Capitol Nashville label. Haters chuckled, but the single “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It” speedily reached the top of the country charts, making Rucker the first solo African-American artist to chart a No. 1 country hit since Charley Pride in 1983 — which is why, these days, you don’t find Rucker having a beer and feeling sorry for himself.
This month, Rucker releases his second solo country album, the hometown love note “Charleston, SC, 1966.” We caught up with him on tour to talk about old times, check in on Hootie’s 25th anniversary and attempt to instigate a rivalry with Stephen Colbert. Continue reading