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Hootie & the Blowfish gets Charleston ready to rock ... and kids ready to roll!
By Jennifer Johnson
Aug 14, 2013 - 9:36:28 AM

Hootie and they Blowfish share a photo with 2012 Roundup volunteers and visitors.
Hootie and the Blowfish rock Family Circle Stadium at 2012's Homegrown concert.
Darius Rucker takes a moment to sign a student's ballcap.
After picking out - and filling up - backpacks, kids at the Homegrown Roundup get fitted for new school kicks.
Hootie and the Blowfish rock Family Circle Stadium at 2012's Homegrown concert.
Hootie and the Blowfish rock Family Circle Stadium at 2012's Homegrown concert.
A rep from the SC Aquarium lets kids get personal with a baby alligator.


Before he was the cool crooner for Hootie and the Blowfish, he was a kid, walking the halls of Charleston County Schools and being educated within its classrooms. He needed a backpack, pencils, scissors, notebooks, and a haircut.
Today, Darius Rucker has one of the most recognizable faces in the country, particularly the Lowcountry. His voice is unmistakable as well, but not just for the smooth sounds and harmonies it can produce; it has also become a powerful beacon for the Charleston students who have come after him. And it is undeniably amped by the three bandmates who round out Hootie and the Blowfish and bolster that beacon.
Formed on the campus of University of South Carolina in 1989, Hootie and the Blowfish is inarguably one of the most successful music groups of all time. Mark Bryan, Dean Felber, Darius Rucker, and Jim “Soni” Sonefeld debuted their acclaimed first album in 1994, and the band has since played to millions of fans and sold over 25 million albums worldwide. “Because of this entitlement,” relates band publicist Ebie McFarland, “Hootie and the Blowfish believe they have a responsibility to use their celebrity status to help improve the lives of those in need, especially children.” Their approach is to champion projects where they can mobilize other organizations to help make a positive difference in the lives of today’s youth, with a conspicuous focus on those in the Lowcountry that is - or has become their “adopted” - home.
As the primary vehicle for that mission, the Hootie and the Blowfish Foundation was founded in 2000 to benefit children of South Carolina through education and supporting school music programs. The private non-profit organization has become a nationwide campaign, but the Foundation’s efforts in the Charleston area have consistently served as the template for its national philanthropy.
In 2003, Hootie and the Blowfish held a special concert here in Charleston, their hometown, as a way to help draw awareness to the needs of local school children. “Every year, many schools are forced to make budget cuts that ultimately affect the quality of education each child receives,” McFarland observes of the band’s intentions. Ticket holders were asked to bring school supplies of any kind to the concert at Family Circle Stadium. The response was overwhelming, and the Charleston County School District children were the beneficiaries of a tremendous community effort. A 55-seat school bus was filled from top to bottom with school supplies, which were then distributed to the schools and teachers who were most in need.
With the remarkable response to that first education-supporting show, Hootie and the Blowfish determined to make it an annual thing, and cast a wider net. The band’s 2007 and 2008 tour replicated their hometown efforts, with local charities benefitting from the school supply drives. The tour visited over 15 cities in 2007 and over 25 in 2008. This year, the Homegrown Concert Weekend returns to the Family Circle Stadium on August 23 and 24. Charleston is poised in full force to welcome back some of her favorite sons and support a great cause, knowing that Darius and his bandmates have made a habit of generosity, particularly when it comes to the needs of the area’s youngest residents. “The children are our best resource and our most hopeful investment,” says frontman Rucker. “With proper tools, our children can receive a well-rounded and meaningful education.”
That’s a pretty grown-up philosophy, but it seems the propensity to lend a hand has been part of the character of the individual band members from very early on. “Darius, Mark, Soni, and Dean were raised in families that were always encouraging them to help others,” McFarland shares. “Whether it was mowing the neighbor’s yard as a child, or as a band performing a free show so a charity could help raise funds.” Today, they each firmly believe that they have been so blessed in their careers that they have a responsibility to find ways and time to give back to the communities that have given so much to them over the last 25 years.
In 2009, the band created what they call The Roundup. As the name implies, this effort gathers together friends in the community to provide essential services and back-to-school supplies to community kids who might otherwise go without. This year, Hootie and the Blowfish will help host the fifth annual “Homegrown Roundup: Back 2 School Basics” for 1,700 underserved children in nine Charleston County School District elementary schools: A.C. Corcoran, Goodwin, Hunley Park, Hursey, Ladson, Lambs, Murray LaSaine, North Charleston, and Charleston Development Academy. Working their way through the Burke High School gymnasium, grade schoolers will receive haircuts, dental and eye exams, backpacks, shoes, t-shirts, uniforms, and basic school supplies. Since its inception, The Roundup has assisted over 4,000 area students. Students from the participating schools will be bussed to Burke High on Saturday, August 24 to participate in the Roundup; this particular event is not open to the general public.
But the second philanthropic happening of the weekend allows the greater community to get in on the action. Also taking place on Saturday, August 24, the Homegrown Free Family Day at the Family Circle Tennis Center is packed with opportunity to give, play, eat and, of course, enjoy some great music. See sidebar for details on the festival.
The whole Homegrown weekend is designed for folks to come as they can, whether it’s to one concert evening, just the Family Day, or the entire weekend. There are certain to be surprises, distinguishing Friday’s set from Saturday’s, and a different opening band will kick off each night: Everclear on August 23 and Pat Green on August 24. “This is our 11th year in partnership with the band,” states Family Circle Tennis Center General Manager Bob Moran. “It says a lot about the character of these artists. Each band member is off doing their own things but they commit to getting together this weekend to make a difference.”
We know Hootie and the Blowfish is committed to assisting disadvantaged students all over the country. And we believe the guys adore all their fans and have a blast at every tour stop. But isn’t it natural to like your hometown best?
“We look forward to these shows all year,” confides Rucker. “It’s our hometown, and we love playing in front of friends and family.”
The Hootie and the Blowfish Homegrown concerts take place at the Family Circle Tennis Center Stadium on Friday and Saturday, August 23 and 24. Gates open at 6:00 pm, show starts at 7:00 pm. Limited VIP seating is available for $100, which allows concertgoers access to a preshow party an hour before gates open to general ticketholders.
If you would like to support Hootie’s Homegrown Roundup: Back 2 School Basics with a monetary, supply, or service donation, please contact event coordinator Alexa Harnig at alexa@empiresportssc.com or 843-881-2532.

Homegrown Family Day
Family Circle Tennis Center -
Grand Lawn
Saturday, August 24
Gates: 10:30 am

Event:
11:00 am - 4:00 pm
FREE ADMISSION!
Please help Charleston County Schools by bringing a donation of
school supplies!

Stop by the Meredith Parents Network tent for:
*Free stuff from sponsors Bayer Flintstones Toddler Vitamins, Kool-Aid, Ivory Soap, Little Kids, Pilot Pen, Sklice
*Free magazines from Parents, American Baby, FamilyFun and Ser Padres

Enjoy some live music:
11:00 am – Caroline McLeod
11:30 am – Tyler Boone
12:15 pm – A Fragile Tomorrow
1:30 pm – Atlas Road Crew
2:45 pm – Adalya

Get in on activities for kids
(of all ages):
Feats of strength and motor skill!
Climbing Walls
Heather’s Hoops
Jump Castles
Grasshopper Golf
 
Creation stations!
Art Buzz Kids
Tech Savvy
The Children’s Museum of
the Lowcountry
South Carolina Aquarium
 
Slights of hand and bites of sweets!
Face Painting
Balloon Twisters
Chaz the Magician
Decorate a Cookie

Refuel and hydrate from
festival vendors:
Chick Fil A
Eat A Pita
Diegos
Cupcake
Good & Cold
Papa Johns
Charleston Festival Foods
Hey Bo
T&T
Kettle Korn
Hubee D’s


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