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Hootie fans abandon chairs

Hootie and the Blowfish convinced Albuquerque audience members to abandon their seats and help the band celebrate its last tour engagement in true rock-concert fashion.

The four men from South Carolina made their final appearance in the Southwest Thursday at the Kiva Auditorium, where they chastised the crowd of about 800 people for sitting down.

"We didn't come to New Mexico to watch you sit in those big, comfy chairs all night," said guitarist/singer Mark Bryan after the band's second song "Desert Mountain Showdown," from the Musical Chairs album.

At that point, audience members had sat through 45 minutes of music from the opening band, Mission 19.

It was Hootie's lead singer, Darius Rucker, who got the crowd on its feet.

"It's our last show for a while - let's have a party!" Rucker said.

Once the fans were on their feet, they stood until the end of the show, which included three encores.

"Alright," Rucker said as he led the band out for its final encore, "everyone gather around the stage here and we'll go out really rockin.'"

With that, individuals from all areas of the theater trickled down the aisles to the puddle of clamoring fans around the stage. By then, the seats were simply in the way.

The band did covers all night, including Santana's "Black Magic Woman" and a few selections from its new album Scattered, Smothered and Covered, a 15-track compilation of previously un-released cover material. Five of the songs on the album, including "Let Me Be Your Man" from New Grass Revival and "I Go Blind," a song originally recorded by the band 54-40, were chosen by Hootie fans who voted on a list of eight songs that were posted on an Atlantic Records Web site.

Two things were made very clear during Thursday night's performance, and in the new album: The members of Hootie and the Blowfish are grateful for their fans and enjoy covering their favorite artists.

"The reason we wanted to release this album in the first place is because of the fans," Hootie percussionist Jim Sonefeld said in a press release. "We did these songs because we love playing them, but we love to share them as well."

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