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Hootie Goes Country

Mike Sudhalter  |  May 13, 2008

It always seemed like Hootie and The Blowfish had a sound that closely resembled contemporary country music. That's why it's no surprise that lead singer Darius Rucker has launched a solo country music career. I heard his debut "Don't Think I Don't Think About It" on the radio and wasn't sure who the artist was. When I heard the DJ say it was Rucker, I thought 'it's great to have such a talented artist leaving pop to enter the country world."

Because it's been about a decade since Hootie's success, it's not hard to believe that Rucker is serious about a country career. That it's not simply a pit stop on the way back to pop.

Sunday's ACM Awards in Las Vegas feature five finalists for Entertainer of the Year - Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban, George Strait, Brad Paisley and Rascal Flatts. Chesney is the defending champion, and he's currently in the midst of a stadium tour. I plan to see him, along with Brooks & Dunn, Luke Bryan, LeAnn Rimes and Gary Allan at AT&T Park in San Francisco on June 8.

Joe Don Rooney of Flatts grew up in Picher, Okla. - the old mining town hard-hit by a tornado last weekend. Picher is the most depressed town I've ever driven through, and I've traveled a lot. And that was before the tornado. The town is polluted with lead mining. I wouldn't be surprised if Rascal Flatts raises money to assist the tornado victims.

It's a big surprise that George Strait hasn't won the ACM's Entertainer of the Year award since 1989. It's probably because others have come along with flashier, more exciting shows. But it's a surprise that the pure-country icon didn't snag one of the awards during the late 90's-early 00's when he was headlining stadium tours.

Country Weekly magazine asked the question, Who'll be the Next Strait? And voters responded with a list of 25 possible heirs to country's throne. No. 1 Josh Turner makes sense. He's a traditionalist, but his baritone is deeper than Strait's. A family man, but he doesn't have the cowboy thing going. He's a South Carolinian, not a Texan. Thus, no cowboy hat for Josh. The next two were a big surprise - former reality show contestants Chris Young and Bucky Covington. Young needs to find his way on to the top 40 and quick, before he's forgotten by country audiences. I don't see any similarities between Covington and Strait. Covington is a long-haired, southern-rock tinged singer from North Carolina. Strait is a clean-cut, traditionalist from Texas. No. 4 and No. 5 Blake Shelton or Joe Nichols would have clocked in higher than Young and Covington if I was casting the votes.

:: Posted at 2:37 PM by Mike Sudhalter ::
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