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Darius Rucker and several of his closest pals lit up the Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville for his annual Darius & Friends benefit concert, Monday night (June 2). Joining Darius on the bill were David Nail, Kenny Rogers, Clint Black, Thompson Square, Cassadee Pope, Eli Young Band and Corey Smith, all joining forces to help raise funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.
Before the big show, Darius spoke with reporters about the annual event, which now sells out every year. “It’s so important because it raises money for St. Jude,” Darius noted. “That is such a great organization. The show sells out in a hurry and we get all these great artists to come out.” Darius was especially pumped about netting the legendary Kenny Rogers this year. “Kenny Rogers is one of the reasons I’m singing country music,” Darius said. “He is such an influence on me. To have him out here tonight, it’s just amazing.”
Darius opened the concert on an appropriately upbeat note with his No. 1 single “Alright,” followed by “Comeback Song.” Fans were treated to great individual performances along with some surprise duets. Cassadee Pope invited Darius to the stage for a kicking version of the famous Johnny Cash/June Carter duet “Jackson.” Later, Kenny Rogers and Darius teamed up on Kenny’s classic “Lucille.” Eli Young Band added a cool twist to their hit “Even if It Breaks Your Heart,” as they seamlessly segued right into Tom Petty’s “Learning to Fly” without missing a beat.
David Nail paid homage to Brooks & Dunn with his rendition of “Brand New Man,” following his hits “Whatever She’s Got” and “Red Light.” Thompson Square delighted the crowd with “Are You Gonna Kiss me or Not” and “Everything I Shouldn’t Be Thinking About.” Fans welcomed Clint Black with rousing applause after his classic tune “Nobody's Home,” while rising star Corey Smith dazzled on his songs “21” and “Carolina.”
The evening closed with a group singalong to Darius’ monster hit “Wagon Wheel.” A great evening for a wonderful cause.