Darius Rucker

Stagecoach Music Festival: Day One

April 26, 2009 // 9 Comments

Live and learn. I did a lot of living and learning during my first day (ever) at the Stagecoach Country Music Festival in Indio, California. First lesson: Don’t rely on MapQuest. I didn’t take the large black freeways on the map to the beautiful but bizarre desert retirement slash resort community that hosts Stagecoach. Or the smaller blue lines, or even the teensy red ones. I took the non-existent purple ones through the backcountry past unusual rock formations and the odd farmhouse. It was just me and the random tanker truck going mach negativo.

Second lesson: Show up early. The tanker truck and purple lines aside, I didn’t plan well. And any plans I did have were shot to h*** as soon as I arrived at the polo fields and, well, circled the fields at a crawl (which is a generous term) for nigh two hours before entering the parking lot. So, as I slowly watched the thermometer inch up towards 100 degrees on my dashboard, I kissed goodbye my plans for The Infamous Stringdusters and Lynn Anderson. I’m sorry, guys.

Third lesson: Don’t presume anything about country music fans. While I was very slowly making my way into the parking lot, I took notice of the cars around me. There was a BMW in front of me, a Porsche on my left and a Mercedes behind me. Hmmm…didn’t they hear that polo was cancelled this weekend? But no, the fancy cars were full of college kids, a large family and an old couple…all dressed in cowboy boots and hats and headed to the festival. I’d say welcome to country music, Southern California style: cowboy boots and Gucci purses, but that would cheapen the genuine spirit of those who attended the festival. While not precisely diverse, I doubt you will find a more overall wholesome group of people anywhere. You can only have organized chaos in a group this large with people like this.

Darius Rucker, “Alright”

April 9, 2009 // 18 Comments

I swear I’ve heard this song somewhere before, but that’s probably just because every writer in Nashville already has a version of it. You know the jist: “I don’t need luxurious things, ’cause I got the sun and the moon and you, sweet baby.” And you know, I don’t think there’s an inherent problem with that theme. It’s good stuff, the kind of mentality I definitely subscribe to personally and am willing to buy into when I listen to music. Problem is, precious few songwriters seem able to flesh it out without resorting to the same trite, dumbed-down approach. Pretty much every song of this persuasion just throws out some examples of what is unattainable, then says, “but no worries, I’ve got…” and then throws out some examples of that. There is no room for interpretation or thought on the listener’s part; these songs are designed to feed you a Read More

44th Annual ACM Awards Projections

February 9, 2009 // 38 Comments

On Wednesday, February 11, the Academy of Country Music will unveil the nominees for their 44th annual awards ceremony. Last year, the usual suspects prevailed. Brad and Carrie repeated in the Vocalist categories, Brooks & Dunn claimed their 14th Vocal Duo prize and Kenny Chesney earned his fourth consecutive Entertainer of the Year award. As a prelude to the nominations announcement, here’s my projected slate for this year’s ceremony. (Favorites are in bold.) Entertainer of the Year Kenny Chesney Brad Paisley Sugarland Carrie Underwood Keith Urban Prognosis: The “no girls allowed” edict will likely be lifted.  Underwood is the genre’s most prominent ambassador, and Sugarland’s rise to the high ranks has both commercial and critical support. Note of interest: “The winner shall be determined by a combination of votes from the membership of the ACM and viewer voting.”

Academy of Country Music Nominations Due February 11

February 4, 2009 // 15 Comments

The nominations for this year’s Academy of Country Music Awards will be announced on Wednesday, February 11, and Country Universe will have a preview next week. As announced yesterday, the blond brigade of Julianne Hough, Leann Rimes, Jessica Simpson and Kellie Pickler will read the nominations from the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. From the Academy of Country Music website: The Academy of Country Music, Dick Clark productions and Great American Country (GAC) announced today that for the first time ever, the three newcomer categories for the Academy of Country Music Awards—Top New Female Vocalist, Top New Male Vocalist and Top New Vocal Duo or Group—will be opened up to interactive fan voting through GACTV.com. The 44th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards will be broadcast LIVE from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas Sunday, April 5, 2009 at 8:00 PM live ET/delayed PT on the Read More

Discussion: SoundScan Sound Off

December 17, 2008 // 30 Comments

In this era of rampant piracy and economic recession, things aren’t looking good for the music industry.   We don’t post too often about the business side of the music business here, as we tend to keep the focus on the music.   But the reality is that these numbers matter.  If Little Big Town’s second Equity album had performed as well as the first, the label might still be in business. It’s not all doom and gloom, as many artists go on to make their best music once they leave major labels.   But this Christmas, you can guarantee that some artists and record executives will be bracing for the New Year, while others are embracing it. Here’s a look at some totals for albums released in 2008, ranked by total sales (rounded to the nearest thousand): Taylor Swift, Fearless – 1,519,000 Sugarland, Love on the Inside – 1,179,000 George Strait, Troubadour Read More

Discussion: Country Universe Giveaway/Darius Rucker, Learn to Live

November 18, 2008 // 38 Comments

While a number of artists from different musical genres entered into the country rodeo this past year, no Nashville newcomer was more successful than Hootie & the Blowfish frontman, Darius Rucker. His debut country disc, Learn to Live, topped the country album charts in its first week of release, in large part due to its lead single, the #1 smash, “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It.” Country Universe is offering a free copy of Learn to Live to our loyal readers. To be considered, leave a comment and tell us your favorite #1 country song of 2008. Billboard #1 country songs in 2008: Taylor Swift – “Our Song” Brad Paisley – “Letter To Me” Rodney Atkins – “Cleaning This Gun (Come On In Boy)” Carrie Underwood – “All-American Girl” Alan Jackson – “Small Town Southern Man” Trace Adkins – “You’re Gonna Miss This” George Strait – “I Saw God Read More

CMA Awards Review

November 13, 2008 // 58 Comments

Last night, the CMA stamped its approval on the leading contemporary country stars of today.  Congratulations to Kevin for commandeering the most popular live blog in Country Universe history.  Here is a series of highlights (according to me) from an otherwise staid ceremony: Best performance: “More Like Her,” Miranda Lambert; “Just a Dream,” Carrie Underwood.  With understated brilliance, Lambert shifted gears by offering her Texas twang on the stripped-down ballad, while Underwood hit all the glory notes on her dramatic tearjerker with style and grace. Often pitted as rivals and polar opposites, the two proved that country music holds plenty of room for these two prodigious talents. Although Underwood ended Lambert’s faint hopes of claiming the Female Vocalist prize, bet on Lambert winning her fair share of CMAs in the near future. Sound off: Repeatedly an issue, the Sommet Center’s sound system had problems again this year.  Also, Nashville is Read More

5 Questions with Adam Gregory

November 7, 2008 // 0 Comments

At only twenty-three years old, Adam Gregory has been performing for ten years in his native Canada. After arriving in Nashville in 2007, he signed a recording contract with Midas Records, who then reformed last year under indie powerhouse Big Machine Records. Earlier this year, Gregory reached the Top 40 with his first single, “Crazy Days,” and last month he released his second single, “What It Takes.” His yet-untitled debut album in the United States is slated for release in Spring 2009. Gregory called Country Universe earlier this week to provide a glimpse into the life and career of the Nashville newcomer. Who is Adam Gregory as an artist? And which artists have inspired this direction? I consider myself as just a guy who sticks to his roots and follows his own path and tries to find meaning in every song. I’ve co-written a lot of songs on the album, Read More

Darius Rucker, “It Won’t Be Like This For Long”

October 16, 2008 // 6 Comments

Darius Rucker has an everyman’s voice that is tailor made for singalong choruses, which is one of the reasons those early Hootie singles were so infectious.  It’s also one of the reasons his transition to country music has been so smooth.   Unlike Jon Bon Jovi, who still sounds like a rocker,  and Jewel, who still sounds like a coffeehouse folkie, Rucker’s vocals are more adaptable simply because they’re not as distinctive. This isn’t a criticism of his singing.   It’s a main selling point of it.  “It Won’t Be Like This For Long” is as representative of contemporary country music as anything out there right now, and Rucker’s vocal on the track has as much to do with that as the song’s instrumentation.    As he’s singing about savoring the moments of a young child’s development, he sounds just country enough to fit in on the radio dial between Alan Jackson and Read More

Darius Rucker, Learn to Live

September 14, 2008 // 14 Comments

Darius Rucker Learn to Live On his first country single, “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It,” Darius Rucker delivers an honest, heartfelt performance of a pensive ballad about love lost and the mark that it usually leaves. Rucker has attracted the attention of the country radio audience with that single, and it’s helped boost the profile of his first full country album, Learn to Live, a release that owns a variety of country music’s common topics and musical techniques. It’s that first single, though, where he sounds most natural and comfortable. The overall impression of the rest of the album; however, is how jolting it sounds for Rucker to reach into these twelve country songs and not stamp them with his own identity. After an extended run as the lead singer of ‘90s pop-rock band Hootie & the Blowfish, Rucker has followed his muse, as influenced by his South Carolina upbringing Read More

1 2 3 4 5