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Darius Rucker and Friends Bring Good Times, Raise Money for Great Cause in Nashville

Darius Rucker
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

On Monday night (June 4), Darius Rucker got fans on their feet to kick off an action-packed week of events as part of the 2012 CMA Music Festival. The singer took over Nashville’s Wildhorse Saloon for his third-annual Darius and Friends concert, benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

In addition to a silent and live auction — which included a Charlie Daniels autographed fiddle that sold for $1,500 and an autographed acoustic guitar from Keith Urban that pulled in $2,000 — fans were able to purchase special VIP packages for a private meet and greet with Rucker prior to the show. Of course, all proceeds raised went directly to St. Jude. Major funding was also garnered for the cause through a private golf tournament held earlier in the day.

“Golf is a pretty easy game [to pick for a charity], when you have a bunch of guys who like to play and have some money and want to spend it,” Rucker told Taste of Country at the event. “You can really put together a nice tournament and raise some money. Then the music, that’s the easy part.”

He added, “It’s really cool when you have all these stars who want to come out and give their time. It always turns out to be a good show and a good time, and in the process, we raise a bunch of money. That’s really what’s important.”

Chuck Wicks‘ involvement in the event marked his second year to golf with Rucker and the other celebrities, but it was his first time taking the stage for the all-star concert.

“With it being Darius ‘and Friends,’ I feel like we’re moving up in the world … I feel like my friendship has grown with him,” Wicks joked with Taste of Country backstage at the Wildhorse. “On top of that, doing this for St. Jude and raising money for the kids is amazing. I’ve been to St. Jude in Memphis, and you see those kids out there and it breaks your heart. What’s crazy is they’re stronger than we are. They’re rockin’, but it’s nice to help them out and help them smile a little longer.”

But what about his golf game? “My team shot 800, which was good enough for fifth place, maybe, which isn’t bad,” Wicks told us with a grin. “Fifth place out of five teams is good … it isn’t bad. It’s bad, I know.”

While Sunny Sweeney didn’t partake in the sporting activities on Monday, she was honored to do her part in helping to raise funds while entertaining the fans who sold out the Saloon. “I made a point to be here because Darius Rucker wanted me to be here,” Sweeney told Taste of Country before taking the stage to perform her songs ‘Drink Myself Single Tonight’ and ‘Amy.’

“I think that’s really cool to even be asked. For it to benefit St. Jude is even cooler. I had a cousin who was at St. Jude for probably two years when she was a little baby,” she revealed. “It cured her or allowed her to live as normal of a life as possible. She has brittle bone disease. I just think that anything with kids is awesome, and when kids need extra help, that’s even better. I love doing stuff like that.”

Others who shared the stage with Rucker for the special night included Clint Black, Rodney Atkins and special surprise guest Jerrod Niemann.

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