Hootie Returns With Debut For Own Label

This summer will bring "Looking for Lucky," the first studio album by Hootie & the Blowfish on its own Sneaky Long Records.

This summer will bring "Looking for Lucky," the first studio album by Hootie & the Blowfish on its own Sneaky Long Records. The set, due Aug. 9 and distributed by Vanguard Records, reunites the band with Don Gehman, who produced its massive 1994 Atlantic debut, "Cracked Rear View."

"We went in and nailed all 12 tracks, with six or eight tunes that could be singles," lead guitarist Mark Bryan says of the sessions at Nashville's Emerald Studios. "Don kept us on track with his fine ear and clear vision."

The band also tapped a number of songwriters to collaborate on the material for the set, including Matraca Berg, Trick Pony's Keith Burns, the Silos' Walter Salas Humara, Radney Foster and Cowboy Mouth's Paul Sanchez, among others. There are also guest appearances by contemporary bluegrass artists Sam Bush, John Cowan and Herb Pedersen.

"We wondered what would happen if we brought in a few friends to do some writing and playing," says Bryan. "We wanted to see if we could push things in a new direction." The band is rounded out by singer/guitarist Darius Rucker, bassist Dean Felber and drummer Jim "Soni" Sonefeld.

Described by Vanguard as "stylistically diverse, yet ... thoroughly Hootified," "Looking for Lucky" includes such songs as first single "One Love," "Hey Sister Pretty" and "Leaving," the latter featuring Bush on mandolin and Cowan's vocals.

After a Memorial Day weekend show Saturday (May 28) at the Rockville (Md.) Street Festival, Hootie & the Blowfish will open a U.S. tour July 1 in Marysville, Wash. At deadline, 29 shows were confirmed through a Sept. 10 appearance at the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, Ill. Long range plans for the band include a New Year's Eve gig at Las Vegas' Silverton Casino.

The band closed out its decade-plus association with Atlantic with last year's Atlantic/Rhino compilation "The Best of Hootie & the Blowfish (1993 Thru 2003)," which debuted at No. 62 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 239,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Of the band's four studio albums (the group also issued a 2000 odds-and-ends collection, "Scattered, Smothered and Covered"), "Cracked Rear View" remains its best seller at a staggering 10.1 million copies. The set reached No. 1 on The Billboard 200 in May 1995 and spawned the hits "Hold My Hand" and "Only Wanna Be With You."

Here is the "Looking for Lucky" track list:

"State Your Peace"
"Hey Sister Pretty"
"The Killing Stone"
"Get Out of My Mind"
"Another Year's Gone By"
"Can I See You"
"A Smile"
"One Love"
"Autumn Jones"
"Free to Everyone"
"Waltz Into Me"

The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to Billboard.com/business.

To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.