Darius Rucker Headlines St. Jude Benefit Concert
Darius Rucker and country newcomer Easton Corbin hit the stage at North Kansas City's Harrah's Casino's VooDoo Lounge showroom this week, where they helped raise over $40,000 for the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Jimmy Wayne was also scheduled to appear at the fundraising concert, hosted by KFKF 94.1FM radio, but after nearly nine hours at the Little Rock, Ark. airport and a full hour on the runway, his flight was canceled due to the winter weather storms.
Easton took the stage first, giving fans a sneak peak of what's to come from the new star on the rise. "The more noise you make, the better!" he told the crowd, as he strapped on his guitar. He opened his set with 'The Way Love Looks' followed by 'This Far From Memphis' -- both which will be on his debut album, set for release on March 2.
"This next song I want to thank y'all for getting behind and supporting it," Easton said as the crowd prepared to hear his debut hit, 'A Little More Country Than That.' "I like to do songs from my influences -- Merle Haggard, Keith Whitley and Conway Twitty are on that list."
After a brief intermission, Darius was brought out onstage where he was presented with a plaque from some of the patients at St. Jude, thanking him for his support. Before launching into his own music, Darius gave a shout out to Jimmy Wayne's fans who were disappointed that the singer was not able to make the show.
"Trust me ... Jimmy Wayne tried so hard to be here," Darius told the crowd. "He is a good friend of mine." Darius then sang the opening verse and first chorus of the Hall & Oates classic, 'Sara Smile,' which Jimmy recorded for his latest album by the same name. "That's the best Jimmy Wayne I can do," Darius said with laughter. "I can't hit those high notes like Jimmy can!"
Darius then launched into his last No. 1 hit, 'Alright,' which had the fans clapping along to the beat. "Thank y'all," said a gracious Darius to the cheering audience. "Divorce is so easy in our country, but this next song is about fighting it out and being there no matter what." Fans then sang along to 'Forever Road,' a song found on his debut country album, 'Learn to Live.'
Darius treated his longtime followers to one of his Hootie & the Blowfish classics, 'Let Her Cry' which continues to be a crowd pleasing hit after all these years.
As he sang the title track of his 'Learn to Live' album, Darius forewarned the crowd that the song's last verse may be different than the album version. "I forget this part every night," he told the crowd, laughing. "And we've been doing this song for two years!"
"I started making this record three years ago. I listen to a lot of radio," he explained. "In 1999, I was in the back of the [Hootie & the Blowfish] bus listening to a Radney Foster song. It made such an impact on me that I ran to the front of the bus and told everyone I never needed to listen to new music anymore. 2009 was an amazing, amazing year. If I had to come up with a soundtrack of that year, it would begin with this song."
Darius then sang a beautiful rendition of Jamey Johnson's hit, 'In Color,' as blue and purple pastel lights beamed down along the stage. "I'm a big Jamey Johnson fan," Darius said following the tune. "A really big Jamey Johnson fan! I kind of wish I was Jamey Johnson ... I'm crazy like that!"
After playing his touching country hits, 'It Won't Be Like This For Long' and 'History in the Making, followed by his rousing Hootie hit, 'Hold My Hand,' Darius treated the audience to another crowd-pleasing cover.
"Twenty-three years ago, I played this next song on my very first Hootie show. I had on my Bocephus t-shirt and everything ... This is my new theme song, we adopted it!" Darius said with a big smile, launching into an amped-up version of the Hank Williams, Jr. party song, 'Family Tradition.'
"I wanted to make 'Learn to Live' since 1996 when I heard a Foster& Lloyd record," Darius revealed. "I knew I had one shot to [make it in country music]. If my first single sucked, that would be it. Even if I put out [Patsy Cline's] 'Crazy' as my second single, it wouldn't have mattered."
Darius then sang the song that put him on the country map -- his debut, No. 1 hit, 'Don't Think I Don't Think About It' -- as piercing yellow lights shined down on him. He closed out the night with his last Hootie hit, 'Only Wanna Be With You.'
"Thank y'all for everything," said the charismatic singer, closing out the night. "Everybody that I've met here has thanked me for coming tonight ... Don't thank me though. I'd do anything for St. Jude. Thank you so much for letting me be a part of this!"