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.