Hootie's Mark Bryan Talks Homegrown Concert
Hootie and the Blowfish are back on Daniel Island for the annual Homegrown concert on Aug. 11 and 12 at the Volvo Car Stadium. To kick things off this year, lead guitarist Mark Bryan agreed to sit down for a chat with The Daniel Island News. The following is a transcription of the interview.
Katie Estabrook (KE): This is your 15th year performing on Daniel Island! You started out with one night and have since expanded to a two-night gig. Obviously this has become a “not to be missed event” in Charleston. Can you tell us about the evolution of this show from 2003 to now and the incredible following it now has??
Mark Bryan (MB): It sort of became a homecoming or a tradition to where so many people started putting it on their calendar. It just has become this event. It started off being a part of our tour and then when we decided to take a break about 10 years ago and stop touring, it was one of the only things we continued to do annually because it had become special. If you tie in the charitable aspect as well, it was a way that we felt that we could give back to the community. That developed out of the event, as well, and I think it has been the most important part about it actually.
KE: Can you tell me more about the charitable component and how much you’ve been able to give back over the years?
MB: We started off noticing that every year when we went back to school there was always an article in the paper saying that teachers didn’t have enough school supplies. They literally would have teachers writing letters to the editor asking people to please donate school supplies. When we started seeing that every year, we were like, ‘what can we do about that?’ That’s when we came up with the idea of having fans bring school supplies to the show and it was a huge success. It still is to this day. We’ve also incorporated what we call the ‘Roundup.’ That is where local businesses donate their services and kids who are going back to school can come to Burke High School every year on the Saturday morning before school starts and get haircuts, eye exams, backpacks, shoes and all kinds of different products and services that the community offers to the kids. I think that has been the shining crown jewel of the whole thing. It’s something that we’re really proud of. This ‘Roundup’ is a very tangible solution to address a need in the community.
KE: How would you describe your dedicated Daniel Island/Charleston area fans? What kind of energy do you get from them when you perform here?
MB: People come from all over but there’s also this hardcore local following. A lot of them are people that grew up seeing us or used to see us in college. I love that it’s a chance to reconnect with them every year. Our fan base has always been shocking to me, even when we go around the country. When you actually have that big of a crowd at home, there’s nothing quite like it. People will ask me, ‘what’s your favorite place to play?’ and they’re waiting for some exotic answer and I’m like, ‘Charleston.’ I love Charleston. It’s probably one of my biggest nights of the year, every year. When you get out there and get on the stage and see all those people around you, it’s exhilarating.
KE: What have been some of your most memorable “Homegrown” moments?
MB: I think when we did the video where we recorded the concert, audio and video, and released it. That was really special. It’s probably been 10 years now since then. One of the cool things that come out of this every year is that we have artists supporting the show and a lot of times it’ll be national artists. We’ve had these really cool moments on stage where we jam with some of our favorite artists. Sister Hazel did it last year. Collective Soul did it. Some of those have been some of the most special moments. I remember going out when Collective Soul opened for us at the show and I went out and played ‘Shine’ with them on mandolin. Ya know, that was special. It doesn’t happen every day or every year.
KE: Obviously, the band has really gotten to know the staff at Volvo Car Stadium (formerly Family Circle Cup Stadium) over the years. What do you like most about working with this Daniel Island team?
MB: I mean, they’re friends now and it’s always great when you can work with your friends. We’re the type of band that can work with anybody and we like strangers too. But when it’s people you see from year to year, there’s just a consistency to it and there’s a warmth to it. We love the staff and Bob Moran. They’re just great people.
KE: Are there any hopes that Hootie and The Blowfish will get back together and tour in the near future?
MB: We are planning on making an album and doing a tour in 2019 but that’s still a couple years away. A lot could happen between now and then but I think there’s a good possibility that could happen.
KE: Is there anything else you’d like to share with your Daniel Island and Charleston fans?
MB: I have my first solo album coming out on August 11, the day of the first show. It’s going to be called, ‘Songs of the Fortnight.’ Also, the band that’s opening on Saturday night called, ‘Stoplight Observations,’ and they are an amazing Charleston band. Their single is also coming out on August 11. It’s called, ‘Coyote.’ It’s already being played on Bridge 105.5 and it’s just a fantastic song.