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Published: Wednesday, 7/2/2008

Hootie & the Blowfish come to Toledo as part of Farr tournament week events

BY DAVID YONKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

After years of playing the nightclub circuit and building a strong regional following, South Carolina band Hootie & the Blowfish signed with Atlantic Records with hopes of making a splash on the national scene.

It turned out to be more like a tidal wave.

The group s 1994 debut disc, Cracked Rear View, sold more than 16 million copies in the United States alone, and dominated the airwaves with such folksy rock hits as Hold My Hand, Only Wanna Be With You, and Let Her Cry.

The mid- 90s were a blur, said guitarist Mark Bryan, who will be back in Toledo Tuesday with singer Darius Rucker, bassist Dean Felber, and drummer Jim Soni Sonefeld.

But I think we re a good example of not letting the highs be too high or the lows too low, he said. We kept it pretty steady all the way through and we re enjoying the fact that we get to play music for a living. And we re still doing it and we still love doing it.

Hootie & the Blowfish named after the nicknames of two classmates at the University of South Carolina followed Cracked with Fairweather Johnson in 1996, which sold 3 million copies, and Musical Chairs in 1998, which sold a million.

The next three albums, a collection of rarities called Scattered, Smothered, and Covered, Hootie & the Blowfish, and The Best of Hootie & the Blowfish failed to match those numbers and the group parted ways with Atlantic by mutual agreement.

Bryan said the media often play up the downward trend of the sales figures, but while the goal is always to share your music with as many people as you can, the numbers aren t a gauge for happiness. Your happiness is not a direct result of how many albums you sell.

He recently released his second solo album, End of the Front, featuring Danielle Howe on vocals and his solo-project band, the Occasional Milkshake.

Bryan, who has become adept on the mandolin as well as guitar, also has been busy working on music projects for other artists, producing six albums by South Carolina artists.

Rucker is finishing up a solo album, Learn to Live, coming out in October on Capitol Records. The first single, Don t Think I Don t Think About It, has already been released.

It s all country, Rucker said. The single s moving up the charts. The album s got Vince Gill, Brad Paisley, and Alison Krauss on it.

He said country is not a big stretch for me because there has always been a country element to his music. When we started out, I begged the guys in Hootie to be a country band but I got outvoted, Rucker said.

The group plans to play a couple of songs from Bryan s and Rucker s solo albums on their Homegrown tour, which kicked off June 27 in New Braunfels, Texas.

Rucker said it s his responsibility to pick the set lists for the band s tours.

That s my job, which I always hated, he said. But this time, the first thing I did was go on our Web site [www.hootie.com] and put out a bulletin wondering what obscure songs people wanted to hear.

Rucker said he tried to get Sonefeld to write a new tune for the tour but it didn t work out.

Soni said his ego s too big to have people get up and go to the bathroom when we play his song, he said with a laugh.

Hootie & the Blowfish will be in concert Tuesday at SeaGate Convention Centre, 401 Jefferson Ave., at the Merrill Lynch Gala Dinner & Show, one of the events being held in conjunction with the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic presented by Kroger. Tickets are $225, in advance only, from 419-531-3277. Limited seating is available. The event starts at 6 p.m. Dinner is at 7:30 p.m., and the concert will start at 8:30.

Contact David Yonke at: dyonke@theblade.com or 419-724-6154.



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