I got to sit down and talk with Grammy Award winning artist Darius Rucker one morning in Charleston, SC. Darius has won international fame in both the rock/pop genre with his former band Hootie and the Blowfish and now in the country genre as a solo artist. He has won Grammys in both genres as well. That is pretty dang amazing.
I was excited to discuss his new album Southern Style and to hear about some of Darius’ favorite restaurants.
Scott Wink: Are you a morning person? Do you do breakfast?
Darius Rucker: Sure, I make breakfast for the kids. I made breakfast this morning. We made eggs and bacon and cinnamon toast. We make French toast or eggs or pancakes a lot too. I make a LOT of breakfast.
Scott Wink: What were some of your favorite foods when you were growing up in Charleston?
Darius Rucker: Growing up for me it was all about the local seafood markets and all the great fresh local stuff. Fried chicken, okra soup, collard greens, mac n’ cheese were a huge part of me growing up. Today they are still my Kryptonite. You put some collard greens and fried chicken on the table I don’t care what kind of diet I’m on. I’m going to eat good that day.
Scott Wink: What are some of your favorite restaurants here in Charleston?
Darius Rucker: I love FIG. It’s great. I love The Obstinate Daughter on Sullivan’s Island. I go there a lot. I love that place Monza. It’s just awesome. We just stumbled on that place and the food is really good. For lunch I like going to places like TBonz or Liberty. You know, those places where you can walk in and get a good sandwich or a great burger. For me its not always about a place having a great chef. It’s just really about the food. I’ve been blessed to eat in cities all over the world and there are not many places with better restaurants than Charleston. I tell people all the time that we may not have the same number of restaurants as New York City but if you want to talk quality we rival them.
Scott Wink: What are some of your family or kids favorite places?
Darius Rucker: They like the ones I just said too. We like to take the kids with us to eat most of the time. Monza IS our family favorite. The kids also loveeee Obstinate Daughter. If we don’t take the kids to FIG when we go, we hear about it for 3 or 4 days…. comments from them like, “I can’t believe you went to FIG without us.” My youngest child is around 10 and the thing is even if these places don’t have kids menus they all have things that my kids just love to eat.
Scott Wink: What about when you are on the road? Are there cities you look forward to playing in because of the food?
Darius Rucker: When we go to Memphis we get Rendezvous. I get it every time I go to Memphis.
Scott Wink: Ohh, those dry rub ribs!
Darius Rucker: Yeah, I love it. Then when we go to Raleigh, North Carolina we get Cloos’ hot dogs. I’ve been eating there since my days touring clubs with Hootie and the Blowfish. We stumbled on it and it’s still there so that’s always fun.
Scott Wink: Speaking of Hootie and the Blowfish, are you glad when you went solo you got to use your real name and have less people refer to you as “Hootie”?
Darius Rucker: Yes, when I named the band (Hootie and the Blowfish) there was not one moment when I ever thought anyone would ever call ME Hootie. That never crossed my mind. There were years of my life where that was basically my name. Now that has all changed thank goodness. People have gotten to know me. Looking back at the last 20 years of my career I’m just very grateful that people still know who I am and have supported me. I very grateful.
Scott Wink: You do a lot of charity concerts here in Charleston. Thank you. Was there ever a moment when you decided things had gotten big enough to be able to start giving back to the community like you do?
Darius Rucker: Not really, I’ve just always thought that way. Ever since I was a kid it was just part of life growing up. I was raised in an environment where we were taught early on that you should always help people when you can. For me its just something I feel I need to do and I love to help HERE in Charleston. I want our kids to have great hospitals. I want our schools to keep getting better. So its a no brainier for me to help out as much as I can.
Scott Wink: Your new album Southern Style has a few really personal songs on it. One about Charleston and one about your mom I hear.
Darius Rucker: Yeah, on albums you have to always have a few songs that really, really, mean a lot to you. “You Can Have Charleston” is one of those songs. When I finished writing it I realized it was one of those great, sad, beautiful songs. “So I Sang” that song is about… life. It tells a really cool little story about growing up.
Darius is such a great guy with an amazing voice. You should definitely download his song from iTunes or pick up the CD. His new single off of this Southern Style album is Homegrown Honey and is burning up the charts and airwaves.
Later in the day Darius performed several songs both new and old for a small group of radio and news people at Charleston Distilling Co on King Street. Here are a few videos of his performances.
On the heels of the Charleston Wine + Food Festival about 30 Charleston bar managers and staff boarded a pontoon boat at the Isle of Palms marina. Our journey was sponsored by Don Julio Tequila for the purposes of demonstrating the reasons farming and processing of ingredients are so vital to the quality of the finished product. Local shellfish farmer Clammer Dave uses similar dedication to growing, harvesting, and processing his main ingredient above and beyond that of his competitors similar to how Don Julio prides itself on its treatment of agave plants for tequila.
As we cruised slowly out toward Capers Island our boat driver Robert of Barrier Island Eco Tours showed us lots of local bird varieties and told us why the Charleston marshes so vital to our ecosystem and lifestyle in Charleston. We sipped on mason jars of Don Julio margaritas as we enjoyed our tour of the beautiful marshes.
As we approached some of Clammer Dave’s oyster beds he discussed how jet skis and the surge of boating in this sensitive oyster bed area can have a dramatic negative effect on clams and oysters.
Clammer Dave discussed how poaching has started to become a problem and how he has begun using HD cameras installed on buoys to help combat this.
He then took us to a floating house boat near his oyster beds. He said that when we started this business around ten years ago that he would live on this boat from time to time so that he could spend more time getting all of his work done. Both clams and oysters are planted and harvested by his business. He sells to many downtown Charleston, SC restaurants and also ships to restaurants around the country including some in New York City. Visit his website for more information. www.clammerdave.com
After our boat cruise we headed back to Clammer Dave’s processing plant located near McClellanville, SC and he spent some time explaining to us the ways his crew uses their senses of hearing, sight, and smell to sort out any poor quality oysters. They also sort them by hand one at a time by weight so that they can deliver a superior and consistant product to his customers. This type of one by one hand sorting is almost never done by other oyster producers. At 3:40 in the below video there is a great discussion about how both Clammer Dave and Don Julio respect the ingredients and do everything in their power to keep them at maximum quality.
Then the party began as the bar managers and staff started sampling Don Julio oyster shooters and a local bluegrass band got our collective juices flowing. There was Don Julio cocktails including the “50/50” and “Basil Smash”.
We then sampled roasted oysters (steamed) in clusters as well as selects (singles). At the end of the night we finished with a Lowcountry boil of clams, shrimp, corn and potatoes.
I definitely have a greater respect for the companies that take the time to focus on quality. Taking pride in delivering a world class product like Don Julio and Clammer Dave requires a dedication most food businesses lack. In the age of the global industrial food market it is nice to see and support those companies that do it responsibly.
Cheers to Don Julio for this wonderful day, your dedication to quality, and your delicious tequila!
It was nice to visit the set of WCIV-TV’s Lowcountry Live with Erin Kienzle. We discussed one of my recent posts “8 Best New Eats in Charleston For 2015”. We discussed 4 of those: Nana’s Seafood and Soul, Tavern and Table, The Daily, and Carmella’s Dessert Bar. I brought in the Peanut Butter Explosion from Carmella’s for Erin and Tom Crawford to taste. The crew was super nice. I hope to see them again soon!
I got to sit down and have dinner with John-Keith Culbreth (Songwriter, Piano, Synth, Vocals) and Will Blackburn (Lead Vocals) of the band Stop Light Observations. We met up at hot Italian restaurant in Charleston, SC, Indaco to discuss their new single “Helicopters”. The single is available for free download on their website and also has a great music video.
Will Blackburn (L) and John-Keith Culbreth (R) of Stop Light Observations
Indaco: 526 King St, Charleston, SC 29403 (843) 727-1228
Here are some highlights of the conversation and meal:
Culbreth: Stop Light Observations (SLO) is 7 people with 7 crazy different musical influences coming together and creating one sound. That sound is evolving every day as our tastes and influences change.
Blackburn: There are obviously some consistencies that make us sound like the same band over time. As we change and as we grow and appreciate different kinds of music I think we have been able to incorporate it very naturally instead of feeling brash like we are changing our sound. I think a lot of bands have a hard time dealing with that. We are going to find out what our fans think of our sound and the new single “Helicopters” and I think they are going to like it. We are still working on how to grow and yet stay the same so that we keep the things that our fans enjoy about SLO while being able to create new music.
Charleston Food Bloggers: So what should we expect from your next couple of songs? How did you evolve over the past 2 years since releasing Radiation?
Blackburn: We took what we learned from Radiation, which is that we have a mixed bag of fans. We have younger crowd that likes our pop undertones, which is great, but we also have an older group of fans that like our Beatles/Zeppelin sound that we work with all the time. So on Helicopters we blend both of those things. I sing in a classic 40s style for the whole first verse then in the second I breakout into a more soul 60s-70s era vibe. The music it has more of a current beat….like a right now kind of sound.
Culbreth: A tomorrow sound maybe….
Blackburn: I have let some people close to me listen to the new songs and I want them to tell me how it feels. I know we are onto something when they can’t describe it. If they say, “It sounds like so-and-so” then we are not being honest enough with the song. If they say, “I don’t know what that is but it’s cool” then I know we could be onto something fantastic. We like to release the next song after Helicopters in 30-60 days. We are collectively choosing our favorite songs to release….ones that just feel right. We are so excited to start sharing more music with our fans.
Culbreth: We focus on just losing ourselves in things. I lose myself when I’m writing and we lose ourselves on stage. Then when the jam is done during recording or on stage we all just look around at each other and are just like, yes!
Blackburn: There isn’t a lot of planning. We have these ideas and then each one of us brings our different sounds to those ideas. We like to try different things. Things that just feel right and live in the moment. Experimenting with sounds and always mixing it up in new ways that we think feels right is one of the things I love the most about Stop Light Obeservations.
Culbreth: It needs to be real. We just want to become the moment. That is art, that is truth.
Charleston Food Bloggers: So I hear you recorded “Helicopters” in a kitchen.
Culbreth: Yeah, our sound engineer Joey’s kitchen in Charleston. There are just so many people like him that have helped move our band forward. From people recording our songs, filming our videos, photography, and marketing….everything. So many great people out there have contributed to helping us share our vision and sound. I graduate from College of Charleston with a degree in business and my mom and dad we like, “Yeah, son we think you should just do the music thing and go all the way with it”. We have so much support…..support we never could have imagined.
I expect a lot of great things from the guys of Stop Light Observations. Charleston needs an anchor band like this for other area bands to gravitate around and create a new Charleston signature sound.
Indaco is also one of my favorite restaurants in town. They always satisfy my taste buds. This is one of the few times where I had room to eat dessert and it was great too. Take a look at the meal I shared with the band below. Don’t forget to download the new Stop Light Observation single, “Helicopters” and visit Indaco for a delicious dinner. Try it all for yourself!
Caper’s Blades – Oysters with shallots, blood orange, and fennel oil
SMOKED PORK RILLETTES: pork belly, cream, fennel, and herbs with a side of fermented cabbage and grilled focaccia bread with a puree of smoked onions and smoked carrots.
Scott Wink of Charleston Food Bloggers with Will and John from Stop Light Observations at Indaco.
SAUSAGE PIZZA: cotechino, braised greens, San Simon di Costa, farm egg, Pecorino Romano
Indaco’s wood fire grill
Fried Bomboloni (yeast doughnuts) with lemon meringue (L) and a flour-less chocolate torta with housemade blood orange sorbet and mascarpone (R).