For Towson rock musician Mike Ruocco, there's only one thing to do when your next list of upcoming tour dates is announced: You see when you're coming home.
"When you tour as extensively as I've done over the past 10 or so years, and you see the particular tour you're jumping on stops in Baltimore, everyone gets super excited," said Ruocco, 29. "There's nothing better than getting to come home, see your friends and family, and play a show for the community that's supported you from the very beginning."
Ruocco's current tour, in which he's supporting former "American Idol" star Chris Daughtry, will bring him home on Wednesday, Aug. 1, when the tour comes to the Lyric Opera House in Baltimore.
Ruocco, a Hampton resident who has played in local bands since grade school, is touring in support of his debut solo album, The Rise. The Ride. The Risk. this summer with Daughtry, an artist that Ruocco and his former band, Cinder Road, went on their first national tour with five years ago.
"Chris' first U.S. tour was my band's first U.S. tour," said Ruocco, a graduate of Calvert Hall College High School. "We kind of learned together, all made the same rookie mistakes and saw all the same amazing sites together."
Ruocco, whose resume also includes stints with the local bands Plunge — the predecessor of Cinder Road — and SR-71, stayed in touch with Daughtry and his band after the tour wrapped up. Once Ruocco's new album came out, he reached out about the possibility of hopping onto Daughty's summer tour, which will be jumping around the east coast until mid-August.
"Too Late," the first single off The Rise. The Ride. The Risk. is being played on 17 stations nationwide, and represents an album that came largely from Ruocco's recent stint as a songwriter for BMG Music.
"Throughout doing that, I was doing a lot of different writing projects," he said. "I kept writing these songs that I liked myself, and I said 'I believe I have an album to put together.' This year, I put together the solo band, and things couldn't be better."
His backing band consists of guitarist and former Cinder Road member Pat Dement, as well as Dean Cramer, Drew Yount and Chris Jankiewicz. Ruocco described them as "a bunch of phenomenal guys from the Baltimore area."
Even though they're touring under his name, Ruocco equates the situation to artists like Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan who perform under their names but "have these fantastic bands behind them."
"There really is no difference," he said. "The only difference is instead of saying here's a song from our newest record, I say here's a song from mine."
But for Ruocco and his backing band, the focal point of the tour is the Lyric show. He said they have two days off in Baltimore, which makes he and his band-mates the unofficial ambassadors for Towson.
When Ruocco and Cinder Road toured with the rock band Candlebox a few years ago, they had an off day and pulled the tour buses right up to his Hampton home and had a crab feast.
"We got steamed crabs and taught them how to eat crabs, had a Wiffle ball tournament, just showed them what we do at home," said Ruocco's wife, Erin.
She hopes to have the chance to show the former "American Idol" standout that same hospitality, while her husband said he hopes for the chance to take him to Souris', his favorite Towson watering hole.
But while Ruocco is out chasing the dream, the tour stop in Baltimore gives those he leaves behind on tour the chance to see him.
"You get used to life around the house without him, but you never get used to him being gone," said Erin Ruocco, who works as a professional school counselor at West Towson Elementary School. "This has only been a week, but there are days where I really miss him."
Erin Ruocco said there would be a good group of friends and family at the Baltimore show, though her standard line is that they should all buy tickets, not go directly to the source.
"There's two waves," Mike Ruocco said. "There's whenever I announce the dates, when I get the first wave of calls and texts. The second wave is the day of. We have to shut our phones off because it's crazy, especially when you're on a high profile tour like Daughtry."