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Darius Rucker Is 'Blown Away' Opening for Brad Paisley

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Jamie McCarthy/WireImage; Baxter/Abaca

Since making a successful transition from pop to country music, Darius Rucker has played small venues around the country. But after seeing Brad Paisley‘s show in front of 12,000 fans last year, he just had to join in on the fun.

“I saw him play in Charleston (S.C.), and I was really blown away by him,” Rucker, 42, told “Actually, on the way home from that show, I called my management and said, ‘I don’t care what it costs me. I want to go out with Brad for a little while.’ ”

It helped that Rucker was already pals with the other opening act on the Paisley Party Tour, Dierks Bentley, 34, whom he calls “incredible.”

“The show right there was worth every penny that everybody’s paid to get in,” Rucker said. “I’m just added on as fluff, and I’ll take it.”

That’s a bit of modesty. Rucker, the former front man for Hootie & the Blowfish, has released one country album – and it spawned a No. 1 single, “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It.” His latest effort, “It Won’t be Like This For Long,” is climbing the country charts.

On the Road

On tour, Rucker mostly sticks to country for his 30-minute set. The only Blowfish song he usually includes is a countryfied version of “Let Her Cry.”

“There are songs that I like to play live, and you’ve got to play a Hootie song,” he said. “You’ve got to.”

But Rucker’s playlist isn’t set: He takes requests fans send him on Myspace.

“People will say, ‘Play this at the show,’ ‘Play that at the show,’ ” he said. “I always listen to the fans, man. Always. Absolutely.”