The Steelers regular season gets under way on Sunday, Sept. 8 against the Tennessee Titans at Heinz Field, but the excitement for the opener begins on Friday, Sept. 6 at the Steelers Kickoff Concert at Stage AE Outdoors with country superstar Darius Rucker performing.
Rucker, the former lead singer for Hootie & the Blowfish, entered the world of country music in 2008 with his Learn to Live *album. Since then he has released two more country albums, including *True Believers which was released in May.
"I really started this as something I just wanted to do because I love country music," said Rucker. "I don't know if I was really expecting much. I was doing it because it was something I love doing…making a record I wanted to make and having fun with it. That was the really important thing for me when I started. It wasn't about making money or anything like that. I had a really great career with Hootie & the Blowfish and we had done a lot of things. I just wanted to have fun with this. When you are doing something just for the love of it and you have this much success, it really feels awesome. It has been so successful and fun, and I am really proud of it."
Rucker, who was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2012, is no stranger to performing in Pittsburgh. Hootie & the Blowfish made numerous stops in the city in the past and he is excited to return and reach a new audience of country music fans.
"Any time I see Pittsburgh on the calendar I get a little excited," said Rucker. "It's the crowds there. They are there to hear music and enjoy it and as a musician that is something you love."
And for Rucker combining music and football makes it that much better. He loves the sport, watching up to seven games at a time on his 150 inch television in his "man room."
"There are two times of the year for me…football season and waiting for football season," said Rucker. "I watch every single football game. I am a fan of the sport. I love the action. I love seeing two coaches go at it mentally, but then watch their teams go at it like gladiators and try to come out with a win. I have been all over the world and have seen the sports of all of the different countries, and football is the greatest sport in the world. I love watching the NFL. Any time I can do anything with the NFL it's so much fun.
"To get to play for a historic franchise like the Steelers is great. The Steelers are one of the teams if you don't like them then you hate them because they are always so good. They are never out of it. They are always in it. To be a part of their opening night feels great."
There will definitely be some black and gold represented in his show, including honoring the history of the team.
"You have to show respect," said Rucker. "We are going to have a really cool thing with our video walls with a tribute to all of the Steelers championship teams."
Rucker said he can relate to the energized feeling the players get before the games, something he feels when he is on stage.
"I get on stage I get that rush. It's all about winning," said Rucker. "On stage it's about winning, watching the crowd sing and dance and hopefully they feel like they want to come back and do it again."
The 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers Season Kickoff Concert Featuring Darius Rucker
WHEN: September 6
WHERE: Stage AE Outdoors
DOORS: 6 PM
COST: $35.00 Advance/Day of Show
TICKETS: Tickets are available at all Ticketmaster locations or by phone at 800-745-3000 or online at Steelers Kickoff Concert.