Sara Evans was the first of the stars to join. She performed her hit “Suds in a Bucket.” Sheryl Crow–Rucker’s legendary contemporary–showed up later and performed hits like “If it Makes You Happy” and “Every Day is a Winding Road.” Rucker joined Crow for “The First Cut is the Deepest.” Along the way, Rucker was joined by rising stars like Rachel Wammack, Caylee Hammack and Lindsay Ell.
Rucker challenged his guests to try out covers and they didn’t disappoint. The approach was a new one, and it largely replaced collaborations that had happened at previous events. Evans chose the Bee Gees classic “If I Can’t Have You.” Ell displayed her guitar prowess on a version of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” Wammack offered her take on Miranda Lambert’s classic “Little Red Wagon,” and Hammack offered up “Folsom Prison Blues.”
Darius Rucker and Caylee Hammack also performed a new song called “Never Been Over.” Aside from joining Crow later in the evening, it was the only collaboration of the night.
The evening’s host had surprises of his own. A horn section joined him for a couple of Frank Sintra tunes, including “Summer Wind” and “Come Fly With Me.” He even added a version of “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse.
Darius Rucker also performed plenty of his own hits. He included Hootie & the Blowfish tracks like “Hold My Hand” and “Let Her Cry,” while he closed the night with his signature cover of “Wagon Wheel.” During the three-hour set, he also included solo hits like “Alright,” “If I Told You” and “Beers and Sunshine.”
Darius Rucker & Friends Is For a Good Cause
The annual concert benefits St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. When Rucker was first crossing over into country music, he accompanied Dierks Bentley on a visit to the Memphis hospital. He shared that he was blown away when he learned that no family ever receives a bill from St. Jude, per Taste of Country. He decided then that he would do anything he could to support their mission.
The evening included a live auction for memorabilia and tickets. The event usually nets hundreds of thousands of dollars for the cause. The event raised $410,000 in 2021. Over its 13-year run, Darius Rucker’s star-studded event has welcomed some of country’s biggest names. Jason Aldean, Brooks & Dunn, Brad Paisley, Jimmie Allen and Luke Bryan have appeared at the event. Brothers Osborne, Kane Brown and Luke Combs are just few more. Legends like Kenny Rogers and Tommy Thayer of KISS have performed. As the event has evolved, it’s become an unofficial kickoff for CMA Fest.