Friends and associates braved the scorching sun Monday afternoon (Aug. 24) to join Darius Rucker and his co-writers, Charles Kelley and Nathan Chapman, in celebrating the success of Rucker’s recent single, “Homegrown Honey.”
The song topped out at No. 2 on Billboard’s country airplay chart.
Nashville’s trendy William Collier’s bar hosted the event, squeezing the crowd into its narrow confines like riders in a subway car.
ASCAP and BMI, the performance rights organizations, jointly sponsored the party.
As with most such casual festivities, the honorees and guests drifted in over a period of an hour before the congratulatory speeches and award presentations got underway.
The affable Chapman, who first came to prominence as young Taylor Swift’s producer, was among the earliest arrivals. He ambled in, a guitar case strapped to his back and his two young children clutching at his long legs.
This would be his highest honor to date as a songwriter.
Sky-high Kelley, he of Lady Antebellum fame, was next, edging in unobtrusively through a curtain at the back of the makeshift stage.
Rucker followed him in a few minutes later. After hugging and handshaking a gaggle of friends, he eased up to the bar, ordered a glass of Angry Orchard apple cider beer and nonchalantly plopped down a $20 tip. Then he turned back to mingle again with the well-wishers.
ASCAP’s Mike Sistad called the proceedings to order and invited the three songwriters and Rucker’s producer, Frank Rogers, to the stage.
He noted that “Homegrown Honey” was from Rucker’s fourth solo country album, Southern Style. Prior to embracing the country format, Rucker was lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist for the wildly popular rock band Hootie & the Blowfish.
Sistad lauded him for his 21-year membership in ASCAP.
He pointed out that Kelley has earned seven Grammy awards as a member of Lady Antebellum and that “Homegrown Honey” is his 11th major hit as a songwriter.
Sistad said that Rogers, who, like Rucker and Kelley, is an ASCAP member, has produced “38 or 39” No. 1 singles, as well as having written three.
Speaking for BMI, Jody Williams called Chapman “the most musical person I know.” His background, Williams said, included performing with his parents, the Christian music singers Steve and Annie Chapman.
A long-time friend and champion of Chapman, Williams marveled that he was so musically versatile that he not only played all the instruments on many of the demos he produced but also sometimes sang both background and lead vocals.
“Nathan’s singing voice is as compelling as any other tool in his tool kit,” Williams proclaimed.
Besides Swift, Chapman has also produced music for The Band Perry, Lady Antebellum, Shania Twain, Jimmy Wayne and several other acts.
Chapman thanked his wife and fellow songwriter Stephanie Chapman for her musical input, calling her “the secret co-producer of everything I’ve done.” He tipped his hat as well to his mom and dad who sat nearby helping mind the kids.
“If you hadn’t cut [‘Homegrown Honey’] within a week or two,” Kelley, with a grin, told Rucker, “we’d have cut it on Lady A.”
He said he was most excited for the recognition “Homegrown Honey” has brought to “my buddy, Nathan Chapman.” And he recalled that as a 12-year-old singer, he had tried to imitate like Rucker.
“How cool it is to share the stage with him,” he added.
Sounding slightly overwhelmed by his good fortune, Rucker reserved his highest praise for Mike Dungan, who, as head of Capitol Records’ Nashville division, took the leap of faith of signing him to a solo record deal after he had departed Hootie.
“I know in my heart of hearts,” Rucker said, “I wouldn’t have given me a record deal — if I was my first cousin.”
Looking on benignly, Dungan simply smiled.