The Blowfish: Mic'd For Play' premieres Tuesday Feb. 24 at 8:30 P.M. ET.
August 6, 1994. I remember my 25th birthday like it was yesterday. I was teaching golf in Stratton Mountain, Vermont and one of my best friends from high school flew all the way in from our home state of South Carolina so that we could celebrate our birthdays together.
We weren't rich so our gifts to each other were modest but heartfelt. He knew I had a passion for music so he bought me a Hootie and the Blowfish CD titled Cracked Rear View. At the time I had no idea who this band was but he assured me they were 'the next big thing'. He was especially proud to give it to me because they were a South Carolina band. 'We need to support our hometown boys' he said.
I popped it into the stereo that afternoon and enjoyed every single song. Little did I know Hootie and the Blowfish would eventually win two Grammy awards for the hit song Let Her Cry and would go on to sell more than 16 million copies of the multi-platinum album..
Since those days, Hootie and the Blowfish have become a household name in the music industry and it's no secret that the four band members (Darius Rucker, Jim 'Soni' Sonefeld, Mark Bryan and Dean Felber) have an insatiable passion for the game of golf. They even have their own fundraising tournament called Monday After the Masters. It's a star-studded celebrity pro-am that raises money for the South Carolina Junior Golf Association and its 10th event will be held this April in Myrtle Beach.
To help promote the wildly successful pro-am, The Golf Channel invited Hootie and the Blowfish into its studios to perform a concert for our worldwide audience and the band graciously accepted. A proud South Carolinian was asked to host the festivities called Hootie and the Blowfish: Mic'd for Play. That fortunate and excited person was ME! Ten years ago I was unwrapping their breakthrough CD asking 'Who are these guys?' This time around, I had a front row seat mixed with a backstage and onstage pass. It was truly an honor.
I had briefly met the band the year before while co-hosting the Monday After the Masters show that aired on The Golf Channel. Seeing the guys for the first time since then, it was refreshingly obvious that none of them had changed a bit. Darius (lead vocals) still had amazing star power. Soni (drums) still had his trademark long hair and Mark (lead guitar) still had his boyish curly locks. Dean (bass guitar) was still the quiet one armed with that ever-charming smile.
They arrived approximately three hours before taping was scheduled to begin and meandered through the hallways of TGC, comfortably mixing with the employees as if they'd been there a hundred times. The band only needed an hour to rehearse. Shortly thereafter we began to tape the show that includes six of their greatest hits of all time. I can't tell you which songs they were but I can tell you three things about them. They nailed every one. The crowd was thoroughly entertained and several can be heard on their soon to be released Best of Hootie and the Blowfish album slated to hit the stores this spring.
Between songs, the guys shared personal stories about each other, a touching recollection of the 'trip of a lifetime' for the band and their most memorable moments on the golf course (one involving Tiger Woods and an unbelievable shot).
After the show, the guys kindly stuck around and took pictures with dozens of admirers, of course, I was one of them. Hosting this concert was a personal highlight in all of my time at The Golf Channel and I promise that it will be one of yours if you tune in to the premiere on February 24th.