DARIUS Rucker is ready to rock Willowbank with his good mate Luke Bryan.
The former Hootie and The Blowfish frontman headlines the sold-out 2018 CMC Rocks music festival, where both he and Bryan will be making their Australian debuts.
"If him and I are in the same place then we will be on stage with each other - I promise that,” Rucker says over the phone from his home in Charleston, South Carolina.
"Luke's my boy. He's my guy.
"I'm so proud of him and so happy for him.
"I just love that kid.”
Rucker has carved out a successful career as a country music artist since Hootie and The Blowfish went on hiatus in 2008.
"When I was a kid, I loved everything and country music was part of it,” he said.
"Kenny Rogers was big for me and so was Charley Pride.
"As I got older, I discovered Nanci Griffith, Lyle Lovett and Dwight Yoakam.
"I've been saying since 1989 I want to do a country album.”
The 51-year-old has done more than that. His four solo albums have all topped the Billboard Country Album Chart and his song Don't Think I Don't Think About It made him the first African American artist to reach No 1 on the Hot Country Songs charts since Charley Pride in 1983.
His fifth solo album, When Was The Last Time, is out now.
"This one actually wasn't as big as the other ones,” Rucker said.
"Life got so busy the past couple of years. "I usually write 50-something songs, but this time I wrote about 30 songs.”
A dozen songs made the cut, including several co-written by Dean Dillon and Josh Thompson.
"The song, Another Night With You, I wrote that with Dean and Josh,” Rucker said.
"I still can't believe I was a part of writing that song.
"It's so country. I love it.
"I also wrote Count The Beers with them.
"I call that song the rebound song.”
Bryan as well as Jason Aldean and Lady Antebellum's Charles Kelley guest star on Rucker's cover of the 1989 bar favourite Straight To Hell.
"That used to knock my socks off when I was younger,” he said.
"I think it's going to go over really well (at CMC Rocks).
"Coming from where I came from and then coming to Nashville, I was really blown away at how much of a community it is. A real family.
"We all care about each other and are willing to help each other.
"To get those three superstars on a track like Straight To Hell by just texting and calling, that's community.”
Music fans can expect a diverse set by Rucker and his six-piece band at CMC Rocks.
You may also hear several covers and a few hit songs by Hootie and The Blowfish.
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