Hootie & the Blowfish: Yet Another Worship Temple

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Music Farm Crowd Blown Away By Hootie

This impromptu concert thing is nothing new for Hootie and the Blowfish. Before the internationaly famous Columbia S.C. based quartet hit the big time, they would sometimes perform a song or two for dorm mates at the University of South Carolina in the mid-80's. Just give em' a little notice -and a beer or three- and they'd come to your tiny room armed with guitars and amps. Ready to rock. It was the same story Friday night at the Music Farm, where Hootie paid tribute to Charleston's premier live music venue with a show that promises to go down as one of the most memorable in Music Farm history.

Club owners have said the club will close down in July unless a buyer can be found. "Thanks for showing up by the way," said guitarist Mark Bryan, as the 2-1/2-hour concert came to an end. "This wasn't really planned or anything, but we were asked and we were gonna be in town anyway. So here we are and it's great to be back."

About 700 tickets went on sale Tuesday morning. They were gone in less than 30 minutes. The Farm is one of several small venues in the Carolinas that that gave Hootie and the Blowfish their start in the late 80's. The band said thank you in every way it could think of Friday night. They jammed with Music Farm co-owner Kevin Wadley on a couple of songs. Lead singer Darius Rucker, a Charleston native, even sang "Auld Lang Syne," maybe the last time you'll ever hear him belt out that song in public.

"Can you believe the Music Farm is closing?" asked Rucker, shaking his head. "We've got a lot of good memories of this place. We love the Music Farm."

The audience clearly loved Hootie back, clapping and singing along till 2:30 in the morning, when the band finally wrapped up their eighth encore, "Goodbye," from "Cracked Rear View," the second biggest- selling debut album of all time.

The impromptu concert also gave Hootie another chance to work on songs from the soon-to-be-released third album, a follow up to the 3 million-selling "Fairweather Johnson."

The band has been in Los Angeles in recent months recording the album-due out in September - which appears to be an eclectic mix of country-flavored numbers and straight ahead edgy rock. The crowd seemed to love it. "It was great to hear the older songs again, but I really liked the new stuff too," said Joe Thomas of Columbia. "Hootie's going to be around a long time."

Though the band's willingness to perform on short notice was reminiscent of its early days, this is clearly not a group of college kids fooling around for beer money anymore. Rucker has added something to his always amazing vocal performance- he's a bona fide showman on stage now. Especially when he doesn't have an accoustic guitar slung over his shoulder. Wearing what might be described as a really cool fishing hat pulled down over his eyes, Rucker got downright jiggy with his dancing during a few songs.

He never did that in the dorm rooms.

Rucker also doesn't mind sharing the stage with mentors such as Lancaster native Don Dixon, who produced the Hootie EP" Kootchypop." Dixon and Rucker collaberated on "Mustang Sally," one Hootie's favorite cover songs.

"If I could sing like that, I'd be happy," said Rucker of Dixon's soulful voice.

By the time bassist dean Felber, drummer Jim Sonefeld, Bryan and Rucker came out for the encore, they seemed fired up to blow the roof off the Farm with rocking covers of Kiss' "Dr. Love," Aerosmith's "Walk this way" (with Bryan on lead vocals), Stone Temple Pilots' "Interstate Love Song," and "Keep Your Hands To Yourself" by The Georgia Satellites.

Rucker kicked off the encore set with the Middleton High School alma matter, to the delight of several Middleton alums in the crowd. Rucker is a 1984 Middleton graduate. Then he launched into the Tom Waites song, "I Hope That I Don't Fall In Love With You"... "Well, it's closing time. The music's fading out," he sang in his sweet baratone.

Those words seemed to capture the mood best.

Hootie & the Blowfish: Yet Another Worship Temple
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