In the grand scheme of space and time, 12 years is a mere blink of the eye. In the lifespan of a rock íní roll band, 12 years can be an eternity.
Rusty Harmon resigned last week as manager of Hootie and the Blowfish after 12 years of navigating the turbulent music-industries waters with band members Mark Bryan, Dean Felber, Darius Rucker and Jim Sonefeld. The announcement came as a surprise to fans and friends, and many wondered what this meant for South Carolinaís most prominent pop group.
As Hootie has often dealt with "band family" matters in the past, theyíve refused to discuss the details, saying only that it was an amicable parting and a painful one.
Harmonís departure comes at a period of down time for the band. Thereís no new album to promote and no major tour on the horizon. Immediate questions arise, however, about the future.
Will Hootie seek out a new manager? Will the band record a new album soon? Will there ever be another full-fledged Hootie tour, or will the Blowfish break up and pursue individual projects?
The four band members are as committed to Hootie as ever, Sonefeld has said, and they are all writing songs for the next Hootie album.
There is one solo project on the horizon. Ruckerís R&B debut is scheduled for an August release on Atlantic Records. Answers to some of the questions regarding Hootieís future could depend on the success of that project.
Ruckerís record reportedly was a big-budget undertaking, with a guest appearance by Grammy-nominated R&B singer Jill Scott. He will most likely mount a tour to support his record, and that would mean a new Hootie project could be pushed back that much further.
If Rucker strikes gold with his R&B record, it will mean good things for Hootie. If Ruckerís record fails to make a ripple, the Blowfish might find themselves swimming against the current with their label, Atlantic Records.
How Harmonís resignation fits in with all this is hard to figure. A 12-year business relationship can become strained even in the best of times. That Hootieís place in the pop universe isnít as high-profile as it once was could have contributed to the parting.Then again, Harmon might have just decided to explore new business ventures and personal avenues. No one is saying.
Caught in the middle of this transition are Breaking Records, the label owned by Hootie and the Blowfish, and a new CD by the labelís only remaining act, Jump Little Children. Jump fans have been waiting a long time for a new album, and they were poised to pounce on record stores Tuesday when the new Jump disc, "Vertigo," was scheduled to arrive. That will not happen.
Atlantic Records is pulling financial support and distribution from some of its small, subsidiary labels, and Breaking could be next in line. If that happens, the Jump album will be left in limbo. When called earlier this week, officials at Atlantic issued a terse "no comment" about the Breaking situation.
Life in the pop music big leagues is not easy these days, and all this turmoil illustrates how hard it is for an up-and-coming act to break through. An established act who has sold millions of records such as Hootie obviously has a leg up on the competition and will continue to make records if they want to.
Iíve gotten to know Harmon and the guys in Hootie through the years, and I know theyíve become as close as brothers. No matter how difficult Harmonís resignation was, I have to believe that he and the band will remain close and cherish the wonderful success theyíve had.
I wish the best for Rusty and his future endeavors, and I thank him for the support heís given the South Carolina music scene. I also look forward to writing about a new Hootie and the Blowfish album soon and reporting on an upcoming Hootie tour.
As for Jump Little Children and their fans, all I can say is, keep the faith. Timing is crucial in the music business, and when the stars are in perfect alignment, your record could go straight to the top. Just ask Hootie.
So maybe when "Vertigo" finally does drop, the world will be ready.