Rucker leads all-star line up as Southern Style Tour comes to The Pavilion at Montage Mountain for Froggy Fest 2015

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    Darius Rucker performed at The Pavilion at Montage Mountain Friday night.

    It all started in the ‘parking lot party’ Friday night as concert goers to Froggy Fest 2015 took some time to pregame for Darius Rucker and the Southern Style Tour at The Pavilion at Montage Mountain.

    Brothers Osborne kicked of Froggy Fest 2015 at The Pavilion at Montage Mountain Friday night.

    It all started in the ‘parking lot party’ Friday night as concert goers to Froggy Fest 2015 took some time to pregame for Darius Rucker and the Southern Style Tour at The Pavilion at Montage Mountain.

    Guess going country has been very good for Darius Rucker. Since 2008, he has scored six No. 1 hits from four No. 1 albums. And now he has graduated to headliner status, attracting more than 10,000 at The Pavilion at Montage Mountain with his “Southern Style” tour on Friday.

    The former frontman of ‘90s rockers Hootie & The Blowfish, now 49 and still looking like a frat boy in his jeans, blue V-neck and ever-present baseball cap, puts on a great show, deftly mixing his country successes with his Hootie hits, plus a few choice covers.

    Starting on a darkened stage with red lights behind the silhouettes of Rucker and his six-piece backing band, the first chorus of “Lighter Up” brought full illumination and shrieks of delight from the huge crowd.

    Rucker followed with “This,” a chart-topper from 2010’s “Charleston, SC 1966” album and his new drinking song, “Good for a Good Time” from his most recent album “Southern Style.”

    Friday’s show was also a part of “Froggy Fest,” the annual concert hosted by local country station Froggy 101, so Rucker made sure to thank the station and all of country radio while introducing his hit “Radio” from 2013’s “True Believers.”

    “Thank you for giving me a whole new life, a whole new career,” he said.

    Rucker, who was basically leading the crowd on an evening-long sing along, followed with “Southern Style,” his latest single, and a crowd-pleasing first dip into the Hootie stash with “Time,” countrified slightly with some pedal steel.

    Following his first country hit, “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It,” which, by the way, still sounds great eight years later, Rucker sang a couple of what he called “great songs”: Tim McGraw’s “Back When” and Blackstreet’s “No Diggity.” The crowd ate up both.

    He brought the band to the front of the stage for the ballads “It Won’t Be Like This For Long” and “History in the Making,” then took the tempo up a notch with “Alright.”

    Rucker sang a bit of “She Talks To Angels” by The Black Crowes to demonstrate how the song influenced him to write the Hootie hit “Let Her Cry.” Another Hootie hit, “Only Wanna Be With You,” was stopped momentarily as an overzealous fan tried to climb on stage.

    “In 1976, when I was 10 years old, I didn’t want to be an NBA star or an NFL star,” he said. “All I wanted to be was Burt Reynolds.”

    Rucker then did a very fun version of Jerry Reed’s “East Bound and Down” (the theme song to “Smokey and the Bandit”) before bringing out all of the supporting acts – Brett Eldredge, the Brothers Osborne and A Thousand Horses – for a triumphant version of Hootie’s “Hold My Hand.”

    Rucker ended his main set with his recent hit “Homegrown Honey,” then returned to the stage to do “So I Sang” from his new album and a version of Miranda Lambert’s “More Like Her,” which he said his band had never performed in public before. He ended the evening with his No. 1 version of “Wagon Wheel.”

    Prior to Rucker’s performance, Eldredge, a 29-year-old singer from Paris, Illinois, scored with slick versions of his hits “Don’t Ya” and “Mean to Me.” Brothers Osborne, the Maryland-based duo of brothers John and T.J. Osborne, made the most of their time on stage, highlighted by their hits “Stay a Little Longer” and “Rum.”

    A Thousand Horses, a four-piece band from Nashville, opened Friday’s show with its first single “Smoke,” currently No. 7 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.