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Hootie & the Blowfsh at DTE, 5 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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Hootie & the Blowfish only wants to be with its fans these days.

The South Carolina group — whose 1994 album "Cracked Rear View" is one of the Top 20 best-selling albums in the United States, is in the midst of its first national tour in 10 years. And on Nov. 1 it will release its first new album in 14 years, "Imperfect Circle."

The quartet hasn't been entirely idle. Frontman Darius Rucker became a successful country star while his bandmates pursued their own musical ventures, and the group has continued to play a few shows each year for its charitable foundation. But the Blowfish are navigating the waters again in earnest these days, original lineup intact and happy to be spending "Time" together again.

• Drummer Jim "Soni" Sonefeld — who has family roots in Michigan — says by phone that the group began talking about a reunion five years ago, for the 20th anniversary of "Cracked Rear View." "It just wasn’t the right time. We had conversations and nobody was ready, or everybody wasn’t ready, so we let time pass and thought 2019 would have a nice feel to it, being the 25th anniversary."

• Sonefeld, 55, acknowledges that he and his bandmates have been asked more than a few times about putting the band back together during the past 10 years, too. "We had some nudging from our crew, who love us and who continued, a lot of them, to stay out there with Darius on the road. A lot of them are on the front lines of listening to people, to fans and industry people and they just kept hearing the repeated question, 'When is Hooting coming back?' So they kept nudging us and saying, 'Hey, there's people out there that want ya and love ya.'"

• The drummer also credits Rucker's country success with maintaining Hootie's popularity. "I loved it," says Sonefeld, who's been making spiritual music on his own. "When I heard his first record I thought, 'This is a phenomenal piece of music.' We started going out to his shows as a family pretty early on and being in the audience to see what it looked like and felt like. And how surreal it was to see your lead singer singing (Hootie's) 'Hold My Hand" for the first time in front of 15,000 fans."

• Sonefeld says the group went into the "Imperfect Circle" album with an attitude that "we're gonna make this the best yet." The group collaborated with a number of other songwriters, including Ed Sheeran and Eric Paslay and, according to the drummer, "put the greatest effort into making a record that we ever have. I think it's diverse. I think Hootie fans are gonna feel like we're still living in that sweet spot of where 'Cracked Rear View' was born, but I think there's some fresh stuff in there, too.

• Sonefeld is coy about whether the Hootie reunion will stick, however. "I don't know. We sort of said 2019 would be the year we dedicated to Hootie, but if we have a hit single that might give us an opportunity to go somewhere else, some higher level. But in general I think the plan was for Darius to get back to making another country record. He's worked so hard to create that brand I think it would be dumb to not go back and nurture it. And we've all got kids in school, still at home, so I look forward to getting back in there and bringing more spiritual music around as well."

Hootie & the Blowfish and Barenaked Ladies perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $39.50 and up; 313-471-7000 or 313Presents.com.

Web Site: www.313Presents.com

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