In the video for Darius Rucker’s single, “If I Told You,” he’s singing in a studio at Los Angeles’ iconic Capitol Records building and on a rooftop with the lights of the City of Angels twinkling behind him. While the country music star is perfectly comfortable in the spotlight, the Charleston native prefers the laid-back lifestyle of the Holy City, and he often references his hometown in his music.
His 2015 album "Southern Style” features a song called “You Can Have Charleston,” and his 2010 album is titled “Charleston, SC 1966,” the year he was born. The cover art features Rucker in front of the Ravenel Bridge, which connects the Charleston peninsula to Mount Pleasant.
“If I Told You” recently became Rucker’s seventh No. 1 song on Billboard’s country music charts. It’s the first single from his next studio album, "When Was the Last Time, which will be released Oct. 20.
Rucker says he often invites songwriters to his home when they’re working on an album.
“People love to come to Charleston,” he said. “We write here. They usually stay a couple of nights and really enjoy the city. We’re usually writing all day, so [when we go out] it’s about dinner.”
Rucker is happy to share some of the places he looks forward to coming home to when he’s been on the road and the places he recommends to friends who visit.
Favorite dinner destination
FIG tops Rucker’s list for taking visitors and going on a date with his wife. The farm-to-table restaurant on Meeting Street is often recognized as one of the best in the country. It is owned by James Beard Award-winning chef Mike Lata and is helmed by another James Beard winner, Jason Stanhope. A close second? The Obstinate Daughter on Sullivan’s Island, where pizza, pasta, small plates and a raw bar are all on the menu.
Favorite new barbecue joint
Rucker’s favorite new place just might be Rodney Scott’s BBQ, which boasts whole-hog barbecue, including pulled pork and spare ribs. Chef Rodney Scott, known for Rodney Scott’s BBQ 90 miles north in Hemingway, South Carolina, opened the much-anticipated restaurant on King Street in February.
“That place is just awesome,” Rucker said.
Favorite place for a laid-back brunch
Rucker is a self-proclaimed “breakfast kind of guy.” On Sunday mornings, you might find him at The Triangle Char and Bar on Ben Sawyer Boulevard in Mount Pleasant, a locals’ favorite.
“Their french toast and their biscuits and gravy are to die for.”
Favorite place to hear live music
Rucker says there are lots of places where you can hear a good live show in Charleston, including the recently renovated Gaillard Center, the North Charleston Coliseum & Performing Arts Center and the Music Farm. The Windjammer on Isle of Palms, where he often played as lead singer of the pop band Hootie & the Blowfish, will always hold a special place in his heart.
Favorite place to play golf
Rucker is known to hold his own on the golf course. In fact, he’s heading out to play on the afternoon we talk. His favorite local courses include Bulls Bay Golf Club in Awendaw, the Country Club of Charleston and the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, which he says can beat you up if you’re not ready.
“I can usually win some money on the Ocean Course,” he admitted, laughing. The Ocean Course will be home to the 2021 PGA championship.
Where he goes to get away
Rucker says he often walks on the beach on Sullivan’s Island, a barrier island at the mouth of Charleston Harbor. He also enjoys walking the Ravenel Bridge, a cable-stayed bridge that rises 180 feet above the water. It replaced the Cooper River bridge in 2005.
“Walking the new bridge is awesome. You’re up so high. You got a nice breeze. There’s always good people-watching.”
Most recommended tour
Rucker has been referring his friends to the Tommy Dew’s Walking History Tour for years.
“I have friends who have taken it three times,” Rucker said. “He’s funny, and he really knows the city.”
On being involved in the community
Rucker is involved with several charities in the city. His band Hootie & the Blowfish reunite each year for their Homegrown concert at Volvo Car Stadium, which raises money for area schools.
The Homegrown concerts, which are in August, are usually sold out. Rucker and his wife serve as co-chairs of the capital campaign to build a new Children’s Hospital and Women’s Pavilion at the Medical University of South Carolina, where his mother worked as a nurse at the hospital for 30 years.
“I’ve been very fortunate in my life to have some success,” he said. “Even before we had success, we were about giving back. It’s my obligation to do everything I can to help people.”