Anyone ready for a Hootie & the Blowfish revival?
The four members of the Columbia band have largely gone their own ways, only occasionally playing together. One of those dates is coming up at the 10th annual Homegrown Concert this weekend on Daniel Island to benefit the Charleston County School District.
Lead singer Darius Rucker recently told Billboard magazine that he hopes the group can get together to record a new album and tour at some point. The move would make sense with '90s bands like No Doubt and Train returning with radio hits recently. The key is just figuring out how they could do it.
Hootie & the Blowfish never really broke up, but it's been seven years since they've released any original material as a group. Rucker has gone on to country stardom, releasing two charting albums over the past four years. Guitarist Mark Bryan has released solo material and plays in other bands. Bassist Dean Felber has ventured into wine-making. Drummer Jim Sonefeld has reinvented himself as a Christian music singer and songwriter.
If anything, they've lucked out as a group. While many bands are torn apart through in-fighting or "creative differences," Hootie's original members have managed to stay as congenial as the day they formed at the University of South Carolina nearly 24 years ago. Sonefeld said they'll play less than a half dozen shows together a year, but when they do it's like they haven't been apart.
"It's still a lot of fun," Sonefeld said. "When we get on stage it's a blast. It's like the old saying, 'Absence makes the heart grows fonder.' We have a desire (to play more) but we're realistic about our lives and families and priorities."
Rucker's turn as a country star came as a surprise to some, but it's Sonefeld's journey to Christian music that might be the most transformative experience for any of the members.
To get there, Sonefeld had to admit he was an alcoholic. Alcohol had been in his life ever since he was a teenager, but he didn't realize it had become such a problem until his 40s. In 2004, he entered a 12-step program at Alcohol Anonymous. He's described his addiction as a way to fill a hole in his life. Drinking never did fill that hole, but he found that a revived faith in Christianity did.
"(God) was always close to me, but it took a long time to get my full attention," he said.
He released "Snowman Melting," about addiction and recovery, in 2008. Last year he recorded an EP, "Found," about his Christian faith.
"I found it easier to talk about addiction and recovery than sing about Jesus," he said. "Everyone can relate to talking about addiction. There's a stigma sometimes about talking about your Christianity. It makes some people comfortable. But there was a time I was like that, too."
For his solo albums, he's become the focal point, getting out from behind the drum set to playing guitar and singing. He's even taken to singing old Hootie hits, like "Hold My Hand," which he co-wrote. Whatever happens with the band, he'll be approaching it with a slightly different point of view next time.
"I have way more respect for Darius," he said. "I know more now what it takes to step up front and be the main attraction. That's a lot of pressure."