by Jessica Nicholson
If you head down to a bar in Nashville’s Broadway area one afternoon, you just might catch one of country music’s biggest stars, Darius Rucker, at the next table. Last year, Rucker relocated to Nashville with his 16-year-old son Jack.
Even though he sells out arenas and just earned his 10th No. 1 hit on country radio with “Beers and Sunshine,” he still likes to sneak down to local Nashville bars to hear musicians perform—and says the mask mandates have made that easier.
“I still like to sneak down to Broadway in the afternoon,” he told journalist Kelly Sutton on her series Connected With Kelly. “Now with the masks, it’s awesome. Before, I would just sneak down to a bar and have a beer and watch the people play. But now with the masks, man, I can go down there and hang out for a minute,” he says with a laugh.
“I walk up and request something and leave a big tip. Going down there, you hear people where you say, ‘Why are you singing in this bar? Why do you not have a record deal?’ All the time. Before the pandemic, I walked in one day and I don’t know if this kid knew who I liked, but I sat there and he played three of my favorite songs. He played a Radney Foster song and I was like, ‘How are you playing this?’ It was one of those great moments.”
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Rucker also dished on his favorite restaurants in Music City.
“I like steak a lot. Bob’s [Steak and Chop House] down in the Omni [Hotel] is absolutely great. You have Valentino’s, an Italian place, I go there all the time. I just love that place.”
Rucker also chatted about his recent No. 1 hit, and revealed he has a new album on the way.
“It never gets old, it’s always awesome,” Rucker said. “It’s been almost two years since I was on the radio because I did the Hootie [and the Blowfish] thing for so long, doing that tour. I didn’t know…are we going to do this again? When we wrote the song [“Beers and Sunshine”], I thought we had something really special but it’s really wild to sit back and think people still want to hear my voice on radio. That’s pretty awesome.”
He also offered details about his new radio single, which he co-wrote alongside his “Beers and Sunshine” cohorts, Ross Copperman, JT Harding, and Josh Osborne.
“My next single is ready to come out. I wrote it with the same guys I wrote ‘Beers and Sunshine’ with. It all started when JT was listening to me do a radio interview and they asked me if I was learning something new in the pandemic. I said I was trying to learn piano and they asked if I was any good. I said, ‘Well I can’t play like Ray Charles,’ and that stuck with him so we wrote a song around that line.”