Capitol Nashville recording artist Darius Rucker recently released his debut single “Homegrown Honey” from his upcoming fourth country album. Rucker’s three previous albums (Learn To Live, Charleston, SC 1969 and True Believers) have all debuted at the top of the Billboard Country albums chart. Recent album True Believers features the Platinum-certified, ACM and CMA nominated, GRAMMY award-winning two week No. 1 single “Wagon Wheel.” Rucker’s first two country albums, Learn To Live and Charleston, SC 1966 produced five No. 1 singles including “Come Back Song,” “This,” “Alright,” “It Won’t Be Like This For Long” and “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It.” In 2009 Rucker was named New Artist of the Year at the CMA Awards. He achieved a personal goal and childhood dream when he was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry on October 16, 2012.
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After years of friendship and months of preparation, three-time GRAMMY award-winner Darius Rucker and seven-time GRAMMY award-winning trio Lady Antebellum launched their co-headlining Summer Plays On Tour to a deafening welcome in Toronto, Ont. (7/19) and Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio (7/20) this past weekend. With what The Plain Dealer called “one of the biggest mainstream country pairings of the summer,” Cleveland Country Magazine noted that it is “hard to imagine who’s having more fun at the show — the fans or the acts on stage” with a playlist-worthy set spanning over 20 No. 1 hits between the two.
Today, PEOPLE.com shares an exclusive behind the scenes photo gallery highlighting Rucker and Lady A’s opening weekend as the run continues thrilling audiences across the U.S. all summer long.
“Charles, Hillary and Dave have been such good friends to me over the years – we even toured together once before during the summer of 2012,” explained Rucker. “It’s always exciting to be out on the road with our fans, but I knew it would be even more special with Lady Antebellum being part of the tour too. If the rest of the shows are as much fun as this past weekend, we’re in for a great summer!”
“We’ve been itching to get back on the road with Darius for a while now and we couldn’t have asked for a better opening run,” said Lady A’s Dave Haywood. “You could just feel the energy between all the bands, crews and fans. The crowds made a lasting impression on us and we can already tell there are a lot of memories to be made this year.”
For a behind-the-scenes look at the launch of the Summer Plays On Tour exclusively through PEOPLE.com, clickHERE.
Rucker took the stage first, bringing fans to their feet with chart-toppers such as “Alright” and recent No. 1 “For The First Time” before Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum joined him for their collaborative “Straight To Hell,” the current single off Rucker’s latest album, When Was The Last Time. Lady Antebellum continued the musical celebration with hits of their own, including 6x Platinum “Need You Now” and current Top 15-and-climbing single “Heart Break,” with both acts uniting for a group encore that included a lively singalong of Rucker’s Hootie & the Blowfish classic “Hold My Hand.”
In addition to the critically acclaimed co-headliners, Triple Tigers Records newcomer Russell Dickerson opened the show with a punch of energy, treating fans to a dynamic set which included his chart-topping power ballad “Yours.”
After wrapping the first two nights of the Summer Plays On Tour, Rucker and Lady A temporarily parted ways as the trio headlined the Darien Lake Amphitheater in Darien Center, N.Y. (7/21) where the Buffalo News noted that from “the lawn to the front row, a crowd jammed into the venue.” Meanwhile, Rucker reunited with his Hootie & the Blowfish bandmates for a one-night only performance in Atlanta, Ga. The tour continues Thursday, July 26 in Bethel, N.Y. at the site of the famed Woodstock festival, with 29 additional dates through October.
Remaining stops on the Summer Plays On Tour:
Thursday, July 26, Bethel, N.Y. – Bethel Woods Center for the Arts
Friday, July 27, Gilford, N.H. – Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion
Saturday, July 28, Hartford, Conn. – XFINITY Theatre
Thursday, August 2, Columbia, Md. – Merriweather Post Pavilion
Friday, August 3, Holmdel, N.J. – PNC Bank Arts Center
Saturday, August 4, Wantagh, N.Y. – Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater
Thursday, August 16, Mountain View, Calif. – Shoreline Amphitheatre
Friday, August 17, Sacramento, Calif. – Toyota Amphitheatre
Sunday, August 19, Auburn, Wash. – White River Amphitheatre
Thursday, August 23, Phoenix, Ariz. – Ak-Chin Pavilion
Friday, August 24, Irvine, Calif. – FivePoint Amphitheatre
Saturday, August 25, San Diego, Calif. – Mattress Firm Amphitheatre
Friday, August 31, Welch, Minn. – Treasure Island Resort & Casino
Saturday, September 1, Milwaukee, Wis. – American Family Insurance Amphitheatre
Sunday, September 2, Mount Pleasant, Mich. – Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort
Thursday, September 6, Cincinnati, Ohio – Riverbend Music Center
Friday, September 7, Clarkston, Mich. – DTE Energy Music Theatre
Saturday, September 8, Pittsburgh, Pa. – KeyBank Pavilion
Thursday, September 13, Saint Louis, Mo. – Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre
Friday, September 14, Indianapolis, Ind. – Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center
Saturday, September 15, Tinley Park, Ill. – Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre
Thursday, September 20, Virginia Beach, Va. – Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater at Virginia Beach
Friday, September 21, Camden, N.J. – BB&T Pavilion
Saturday, September 22, Mansfield, Mass. – Xfinity Center
Thursday, September 27, Alpharetta, Ga. – Verizon Amphitheatre*
Friday, September 28, Tampa, Fla. – MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre
Saturday, September 29, West Palm Beach, Fla. – Coral Sky Amphitheatre
Thursday, October 4, Raleigh, N.C. – Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek
Friday, October 5, Charlotte, N.C. – PNC Music Pavilion
Saturday, October 6, Bristow, Va. – Jiffy Lube Live
* denotes the show is Lady Antebellum only
Charles Kelley (Summer Plays On opening weekend) OC: …not going to be me. 1:02
“It’s crazy fun. You know, you forget how many hits that Darius Rucker has. It’s between all his hits as a solo artist, and he gets to pull all these amazing hits like ‘Hold My Hand’ and ‘Let Her Cry’ from the Hootie & the Blowfish days. And then with our set too, I mean, we’ve finally gotten to that point where it’s an hour and a half full of radio hits. It’s fun, you know. So, we’ve got Russell Dickerson starts the night, who he’s on fire, so he starts the night then Darius goes up and plays his set and then we play our set. There’s a little interaction that goes on between the sets, and then at the end we do this giant jam together. It’s really spontaneous too. I want people to see it. I mean, it’s a true collaborative night, you know? It’s three, four hours of just no one knows what’s coming up next, and I think that’s what is really exciting about it. But we’ve had a blast, and we’ve already gotten a little golf in. I can say that I’ve already gotten into Darius’ pocket, so I’m excited about that. We’re gonna do a little running tab and at the end of the tour, somebody’s cutting a check, and I hope it’s not gonna be me.”
Lady Antebellum and Darius Rucker launch their Summer Plays On Tour Thursday night (July 19th) in Toronto, Ontario, and there will be lots of collaborations between the two superstar acts, especially since they’ve recorded and written together.
“We have a lot of things together,” says Lady A’s Charles Kelley. “I don’t know if many people know this – we sing on ‘Wagon Wheel.’ We sing the backgrounds on ‘Wagon Wheel’ together, and we just have a really strong relationship together. I actually co-wrote ‘Homegrown Honey’ with him. So, we’ll have a lot of fun, collaborative moments.”
Those moments and many others you’re not going to want to miss. You might want to take a potty break or invest in adult diapers before either of them hit the stage…just in case.
“I think more than anything, we just feel like this is gonna be a great ticket together. We really do,” adds Charles. “I mean I think people are looking for a night where they come, and we want them to like have to literally hold their bladder, like they’re afraid to go to the bathroom ‘cause they might miss something, and that’s what it’s gonna be. If you go to the bathroom or you go get a beer, you might miss your favorite song and I love that! I want you to pee your pants when you come to see Darius Rucker and Lady Antebellum.”
The members of Lady Antebellum are currently making their way up the country charts with “Heart Break,” while Darius, along with Charles Kelly, Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean, has hit the airwaves with “Straight to Hell.”
Lady Antebellum (Darius Tour) 2 OC: …and Lady Antebellum. :42
“We have a lot of things together. I mean, we actually – I don’t know if many people know this – we sing on ‘Wagon Wheel.’ We sing the backgrounds on ‘Wagon Wheel’ together, and we just have a really strong relationship together. I actually co-wrote ‘Homegrown Honey’ with him. So, we’ll have a lot of fun, collaborative moments, but I think more than anything, we just feel like this is gonna be a great ticket together. We really do. I mean I think people are looking for a night where they come, and we want them to like have to literally hold their bladder, like they’re afraid to go to the bathroom ‘cause they might miss something, and that’s what it’s gonna be. If you go to the bathroom or you go get a beer, you might miss your favorite song and I love that! I want you to pee your pants when you come to see Darius Rucker and Lady Antebellum.”