Retro Baltimore: 50 things we miss

Darius Rucker, country music rising star, will still play Hootie and The Blowfish at Pier Six Pavilion

Darius Rucker is a country music star on the rise. His first foray into the genre, “Learn to Live,” sold more than a million copies.

But to most people he’ll always be Hootie, the frontman of ‘90s rock band Hootie & the Blowfish.

And if the people who come to see him Friday, when he plays Pier Six Pavilion, are all Hootie fans, that’s all right with him.

“I’m not tired of playing “Let Her Cry,” he said, referring to the second single from Hootie’s major-label debut, “Cracked Rear View.”More than 15 years later, that album is still the 15th-best-selling of all time.

Rucker has been a solo artist for seven years now. He transitioned from soft rock to country in 2008, much to the surprise of the country music world, which hadn’t had an African-American star in decades. 

It was a rocky move. The country music scene has high standards, he said. “Not everyone gets in,” he said. But the novelty factor of his country career has slowly worn off.

“I think people will always be curious, but I think I’ve proven myself,” he said. “Learn to Live,” his first country album, spawned four singles. And in March, he started touring with his second, “Charleston, SC 1966.”

He’s found such success in country, he’s now operating mainly from Tennessee; all the songs on the album were written there. To find the members of his touring band, his producer put out the word in Nashville and found his six players in two days, he said.

“The great thing about Nashville is, everybody can play,” he said. So, what does Rucker look for in a band member? “I’m looking for someone I can hang out with,” he said. “Guys that can join this traveling circus and have fun.”

Rucker says the tour, which is expected to end this March, is likely to appeal to frat brothers and country fans. He won’t just play from his first two country albums, he’ll also play Hootie songs, and even Prince and Steve Miller covers.

“When you’re touring, you just go from town to town. You have to make it interesting for yourself,” Rucker said. “My goal when we play is that everyone has a good time.”

If you go: Darius Rucker performs Friday at Pier Six Pavilion, 731 Eastern Ave. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $25-$60. Call 410-244-1131 or go to

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