Darius Rucker is set to make his CMA debut performing during the CMA Awards, which air tonight from 8-11 p.m. ET on ABC.

I meet up with the Hootie and The Blowfish frontman at NYC’s Asiate restaurant located inside the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. He self-deprecatingly apologizes when I tell him his Hootie song Time played every hour when I worked on Cedar Point’s record-breaking stand-up roller coaster Mantis.

These days, Darius can be found crooning country hits now that he’s released his first country album, Learn To Live, which spawned the chart-topper Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It. The amiable Charleston, S.C., native opens up about his country connections and family life with his wife, Beth, and three kids, Carol, 13, Danielle, 7, and Jack, 3.

Tonight Darius will hang out with Brad Paisley, his forthcoming tourmate, who is cohosting the show with Carrie Underwood.

Brad’s awesome,” Darius says. “He’s a great guy. He’s so down-to-earth and cool. He’s got this real dry sarcastic sense of humor that if you don’t know he’s being funny, that could be a bad thing.”

Perhaps he’ll get a chance to ask Carrie, who is co-hosting, for his dream duet.

“My new dream duet in country music would be Reba,” he says. “I really love the way she sings. Close second is Carrie Underwood though. She can sing! She’s great. I’m a big fan of hers. I really like that Last Name song. Great song. I’m a really big fan of hers.”

Regardless, his kids will certainly be pleased of their dad because Miley Cyrus will also be in the house for the CMAs.

“My daughters are both really big into Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers,” he admits. “Trust me, I’ve called in several favors to get Jonas Brothers tickets and passes to the Jonas Brothers show. That whole Disney thing right now is going crazy in my house.”

Lucky kids! But it isn’t all flash for the Ruckers.

“At home, our big game right now is Hide and Seek. The kids love to run around the house and hide and we find each other. It’s amazing to me how a simple game like that — in the world of technology today — we play hide and seek all the time.”      

Catch Darius on the CMA Awards, which air live from Nashville’s Sommet Center tonight.

Sound off in the comments below!

Join the conversation