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Clinton a Hootie Man on Weekend

Toronto is Hootie central for the next few days.

But after the Blowfish leave T.O. -- they played a free show at the Phoenix last night and are shooting a video at a Toronto warehouse today -- it will be Hootie in the Hamptons.

Hootie & the Blowfish, the mega-selling, four-piece, soft rockers who hail from Columbia, S.C., are playing at Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger's house on Eastern Long Island on Saturday. And the guest of honour will be none other than U.S. President, Bill Clinton.

"It's not for Clinton, it's for the DNC (Democratic National Convention)," said Hootie bassist Dean Felber yesterday, seated in a Toronto hotel room beside vocalist-guitarist Darius Rucker.

"I mean, 'cause he doesn't need any money -- he's not running for office. He's gonna be there."

And it's not the first time there's been a Hootie-Clinton summit. The band met the much-beleagured president a few times before.

"I think it's stupid, to tell you the truth, not because I know him at all," said Felber of the relentless media coverage of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal.

"Even if it was a guy I hated in the presidency. I don't think that's part of the public's job. I don't think we should be worried about him having an affair and telling the woman he had an affair with not to tell anyone about it. That happens. If we start persecuting people for that, then there's a lot of people we need to prosecute. A lot."

Both Felber and Rucker said their appearance at the Baldwin-Basinger household was set up through "mutual friends".

"A friend of his was a friend of ours who he asked to help get music guests," said Rucker. "So we wanted to do it. We weren't working or anything. We get to play national."

Added Felber: "Yeah, go out to the Hamptons for a weekend and play some golf and do this party. It's like going up there and playing music for an hour."

"We can play for an hour," said Rucker.

"Say hi to Bill again," said Felber.

Meanwhile, Hootie's Toronto activities included their performing a special free concert at the Phoenix last night for contest winners and music industry types, with the concert taped for a syndicated radio show.

But that's not all the band has been up to.

On Tuesday, the group -- well known links lovers -- played a round at the Greystone Golf Club in Milton, Ontario, and took in Billy Bragg's show at the Phoenix later that night. They even wanted to check out one more show at the Molson Amphitheatre, but ran out of time.

"We wanted to see H.O.R.D.E.," said Rucker. "We were very disapointed that we didn't get to go, but we'll catch it later."

Added Felber: "The golf course was further out than we thought."

The Hootie boys -- rounded out by guitarist Mark Bryan and drummer Jim Sonefeld -- are even sticking around today to shoot a video for their first single, I Will Wait, from their forthcoming album, Musical Chairs, which hits stores on September 15. The same day they will launch a scale-down Noth American tour that will hit between 10 to 15 cities. A Toronto date is still up in the air.

But the cool thing is that I Will Wait marks the first time the band, who have sold 21 million copies of their first two No. 1 albums, 1994's Cracked Rear View and 1996's Fairweather Johnson, have made a video in Toronto.

"It just coincided," said Felber. "I mean, everything just came together. We finally picked a director two weeks ago -- Ulf something?"

Actually, it's just Ulf. And he's directed videos by Canadian bands I Mother Earth and Great Big Sea plus Boston-based Big Wreck.

"We're just doing the deal with the band playing stuff, that's all we ever do. We okay the treatments," said Rucker.

Maybe so, but as of yesterday neither Felber nor Rucker knew the location of the video shoot. Either that or they just weren't telling me. (It's a warehouse in the west part of the city and that's all I'm going to say).

And no, an audience isn't required.

"I doubt it," said Rucker, with a chuckle. "I don't think anybody's going to come down to see the Hootie video."

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© 2002 Jonathan Sammy • hootie & the blowfish • an Opticism production • all rights reserved