Darius Rucker Does ‘Nothing,’ Raises More Than $410,000 for St. Jude With Friends at 2021 Benefit Concert
Darius Rucker says his annual Darius & Friends concert is a great night for him: He gets to play live music with his pals, raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and do, in his own words, "nothing."
"I do nothing," Rucker said from the Ryman Auditorium stage on Tuesday night (Aug. 17) in Nashville. "My band does everything ..."
While Rucker was being a bit too modest, he did have a point: Throughout the two-and-a-half-hour show, his six-piece band — with drummer and bandleader Jeff Marino at the helm — not only played with Rucker, they backed all six of his special guests. No wonder Keb' Mo', as Rucker told the crowd, called them "badass" during rehearsals.
Mo' was the night's penultimate guest, and he had golf legend John Daly watching side-stage as he skillfully laid out his smooth blues licks. Rucker then joined Mo' for a cover of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On," trading lines as the crowd swayed along; earlier in the evening, Rucker had joined his band to back Daly — a surprise guest — as he sang Bob Dylan's "Kockin' on Heaven's Door" (and added a third, golf-inspired verse).
"He's more family than friend," Rucker said of Daly when bringing him onstage. The pair have known each other for 28 years, the country star noted, and when Rucker calls to ask a favor, no matter what, he says Daly "shows up."
That sort of friendship was a theme throughout the show, Rucker's 12th annual St. Jude benefit concert. Rucker praised Jason Aldean as "my boy," and noted that Runaway June, the night's final guest act, will be featured on his upcoming album, the details of which have yet to be announced. The night's first special guests, Brothers Osborne, meanwhile, Rucker described as "family."
"The most fun I ever had on any tour was with Darius and the [band] back here," TJ Osborne said, recalling Rucker's 2015 Southern Style Tour, which he and brother John Osborne opened when they were still up-and-comers.
Rucker extended that familial attitude toward the fans at the Ryman and watching from home via livestream, too: During his time on stage in between the other acts on the bill, he offered up two particularly vulnerable performances, the second of which was a cover of Nanci Griffith's "I Wish It Would Rain." It's a song, Rucker shares, that he sang "over and over" when his mother was in the hospital after suffering a heart attack.
"She blossomed my love of country music into what it is," Rucker noted of Griffith, who died on Aug. 13.
The first of those performances was of an unreleased song, which will be on Rucker's next album, written with pop star Ed Sheeran. It's about a girl named Sara, who was Rucker's fifth-grade girlfriend. Rucker's not looking to rekindle an old flame in it, though.
"I just wanna sit and talk to you 'til the day is through like we're 13 again," Rucker sings in the tender chorus. "I'm just lookin' for a friend."
Rucker's 2021 St. Jude event raised more than $410,000 across the performance, golf tournament and a silent auction, bringing the total the event has raised over 12 years to more than $2.5 million.
Scroll through the pictures below to see the highlights from the 2021 Darius & Friends St. Jude fundraiser concert.