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Hootie going center stage in Columbia

Columbia -- Hootie & The Blowfish will once again be the centerpiece of Five Points nightlife.

But this time their position will be permanent.

On Oct. 21, a large public art piece honoring the band will be unveiled. The estimated dimensions -- 20 feet long, 10 feet wide, and 12 to 14 feet tall -- might give people a new gathering phrase: Instead of the fountain, they could say, "Meet me at the Hootie monument."

The stainless steel and black granite piece that will have text etched into the structure will be placed at the corner of Santee Avenue and Harden Street, across Santee from Yesterdays Restaurant & Tavern. The piece will take up much of the sidewalk space which is reminiscent, in shape and slant, of a hole on a putt-putt course.

That part of Santee Avenue, between Blossom and Harden streets, also will be honorarily renamed Hootie Boulevard.

Hootie, which will celebrate 25 years together next year, was the post-grunge poster boy of mid-'90s mainstream rock. The Southern charm and soft-around-the-edges rockers sold more than 16 million copies of their debut, "Cracked Rear View," and it remains one of the best-selling albums of all time.

As frontman Darius Rucker enjoys a popularity resurgence (he'll release his second solo country album, "Charleston, SC 1966," on Oct. 12, and he'll perform at the State Fair on Oct. 24), the band hasn't been playing as many dates together.

But the four members -- Mark Bryan, Dean Felber, Jim "Soni" Sonefeld and Rucker -- will be at the unveiling and celebration.

There will be a tribute concert featuring Hootie contemporaries and friends such as Cravin' Melon and The Blue Dogs.

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