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Photos: Darius Rucker brings Hootie and surprises to Tucson’s AVA Amphitheatre

Darius Rucker and his hot band, The Carolina Grey Boys, spent his birthday with an ecstatic capacity crowd at AVA Amphitheatre on May 13. Mr. Rucker has been churning out hit records since 1986 with his rock band Hootie and the Blowfish. However, he managed to breathe new life into his career as a solo country artist in 2008. He is the first African-American artist to have number one country hit songs since Charley Pride in 1983. He has penned the majority of his hit records whether as a solo performer or as a member of Hootie and the Blowfish. Darius was given a royal welcome for a long awaited visit to Tucson.

The set was a delicious collection of both Hootie songs and Darius’ solo career hit songs. He started with some of his upbeat country hits including “Lighter Up” and “Radio.” Hootie songs sung included “Time,” “Hold My Hand” and “Only Want to be with You.”

Midway in the set, Darius announced, “No matter what genre the song comes from, if it’s a good song, it’s a good song.” He started singing Garth Brooks’ “Friends In Low Places.” The fans were ballistic, singing along. He then jumped genre again and started singing Blackstreet’s “No Diggity,“ which had everyone out of their seats and singing along.

The biggest surprise of the night came when Darius introduced one of his best friends from Nashville, Charles Kelley, member of Lady Antebellum. He joined Mr. Rucker on stage and together they performed Lady Antebellum’s hit song “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore.” They followed that with a hit song that they co-wrote, “Homegrown Honey.” It doesn’t get better than that for a country fan.

The show continued with a song that Darius was particularly proud to have written. He introduced it as a song that was written by God. He mentioned that God chooses who gets the inspiration to deliver the song. The song was “Let Her Cry.” The show was over in what seemed to be far too soon. The crowd did sing an enthusiastic happy birthday for the man of the night.

Singer/songwriter, Michael Tyler opened the show with an energetic 30-minute set. Tyler performed the number one hit song, “Somewhere on a Beach,” that was made by Dierks Bentley. Michael has everything to make him the next big star including great stage presence, boundless talent and killer good looks.

For more Darius Rucker tour information, click here. For a complete set list, click here.