Darius Rucker talks family, Carolina upbringing and NASCAR

One on One with Darius Rucker

(WBTV) - Whether he's playing a rare concert with the guys from Hootie and The Blowfish, lifting 18,000 people out of their seats on his country music tour or doing a set for a small crowd - Darius Rucker knows his way around any stage.

He also knows his way around any crowd of people who connect so many of their memories to his music.

The singer - with that unmistakable voice - sat down with Kristen Miranda in Charleston.

"I grew up in Charleston - six kids - second of youngest trying to get by every day," he said.

And as they talked - a few rooms away hundreds of children were benefiting from the Hootie and the Blowfish Homegrown Roundup.

Every year it's the band's way to give to kids who need it. Hair cuts, dental and eye exams, a backpack giveaway - all before school starts for the year.

"We wanted to help these kids with self esteem going back to school and being prepared to learn," Rucker said.

That spirit of giving, like so many things in Darius Rucker's life, comes from his mom.

"My mom instilled that into me as a kid - if you can help somebody you should help them," he said. "When I say my prayers, I thank my mother for bringing me up the right way - to be a man - a good guy."

The next time we saw him - Rucker was center stage  at the "Good for a Good Time" Tour at the PNC Music Pavilion a couple of weekends ago.

"Let's talk about Charlotte - I love Charlotte," he said. "I got a lot of friends in NASCAR. Smiths who own the track, Jimmy Johnson - best friend in NASCAR."

Right after the sound check, we lucked out and got a backstage tour with his band leader and drummer - Jeff Marino.

He was even kind enough to try to give Kristen a drum lesson.

And she learned one reason those who play with him every night think Darius has been a part of the consciousness of the rest of us for so long.

"It's that voice - you get a God given voice like that you can't miss," Marino said. "He's more shy than people think - not shy in a bad way just more laid back. We only have one rule out here - if you can't have fun go home."

Because a life on the road - has to be fun - if it is going to pull you away from home.

"Everything I do is because of my family and for my family," Rucker said.

Those are the songs - that get him - every time.

"I can't choose between 'So I Sang' and 'You Can Have Charleston' - So I Sang - I love to play that song," he said.

"To him its really emotional," Marino added. "And there are nights it gets him and he cracks and we crack - and the crowd starts to crack."

"It's so really who i am - every time we play it - it moves me," Rucker said. "Even if it is a hit or not, I'll play it every day for the rest of my life."

Now back to those kids - the ones in Charleston getting the backpacks.

Little Aden has no clue this guy is a multi-platinum and award winning musician. He just thinks he's the guy who gave him a new backpack.  And that's just fine.

"When I walk in, I don't want to be Darius - that's much more important to me."

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