Darius Rucker’s 2019 Darius & Friends Benefit Rocks the Ryman to Benefit St. Jude

The unofficial kick off of CMA Fest every year is Darius Rucker’s annual Darius & Friends event, which benefits St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. His 2019 show took place on Monday night (June 3), featuring an impressive roster of all-stars.

Every year Rucker performs a show with his famous friends at the historic Ryman Auditorium. This year’s lineup included Luke Bryan, Travis Denning, Jimmie Allen, Sheryl Crow, Brett Young, Kane Brown, Jillian Jacqueline and, of course, the reunited Hootie & the Blowfish.

The sold-out crowd was standing almost the entirety of the show and screaming along, while boot-stomping and raising their drinks to a wonderful cause and show. The festivities began with an auction benefitting the hospital. Around the Ryman were images and information about the hospital’s work on behalf of children and families.

Denning kicked off the show, performing “Rambling Man” alongside Rucker and adding a guitar solo that drew an extended standing ovation from the crowd.

Crow came to the stage and praised Denning, saying that she didn’t know who he was, but after that performance, she sure does now. She performed a few of her hits and a duet with Rucker on “The First Cut Is the Deepest.” Crow went on to share her experience touring while visiting hospitals in every city. She recalled meeting one patient in particular as a child and then going back years later to see that she is grown and cancer-free.

Rucker introduced Allen as his “nephew” and sang his praises. Allen told the crowd that Rucker is one of the main reasons he got into country music. The “Make Me Want To” singer said he refused to do Rucker’s other benefit, which revolves around golf.

“I’m not brave enough to step on a golf course, so I’ll let him handle that,” Allen stated.  “But any time he wants to put on some Jordans in the basketball court, you know what I’m saying?”

Bryan took the stage to high-pitched shrieks. He had a special request for Rucker.

“I have yet to have some of Darius’ whiskey,” he noted, adding, “Darius, bring me a shot, please, it’s the least you can do!”

Bryan revealed that he had a vodka soda backstage and experienced a splash of Cranberry that was evidently life-changing for him. He was going to bring it on stage but decided against it. Rucker brought the shot to the stage, and Bryan asked, “It’s regular whiskey? No cinnamon heartburn, take a Zantac later on?” The pair shared a drink and the show continued.

The night ended in a group jam, with all of the performers on stage to perform Rucker’s hit “Wagon Wheel.”