Rucker lends a hand for Dr. Carson's scholars


Eats: Dining Reviews/Hot Stuff

October 21, 2004|By Sloane Brown | Sloane Brown,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Some famous musicians were playing slightly different tunes in B-more last weekend.

Let's start with Darius Rucker. You may know him better as the lead singer of Hootie & the Blowfish.

Darius and his new band put on a benefit concert at the Lyric Opera House, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Carson Scholars Fund. The music was certainly a flash from the past, but not from Darius' own history. Instead of performing the hits that made him famous, he and his band took on Sinatra. And, from what we hear, they did "Ol' Blue Eyes" proud.

Dr. Ben Carson, co-founder of the fund with wife Candy, says Darius sang the song that made him decide he wanted to be a singer - Kenny Rogers' "Lady."

Darius wasn't the only star using some of his spotlight to shine on the worthy cause of the Carson Scholars Fund. The event was emceed by CNN newswoman Judy Woodruff, who told the audience she had a personal connection with Carson. He was the Johns Hopkins pediatric neurosurgeon who operated on her son.

A letter was also read from one of the night's honorary chairs, famed movie director/producer George Lucas, who praised the Carson Scholars Fund for promoting intellectual development and humanitarian qualities in today's kids.

Here's how it works. Each year, every public and private school in Maryland, Delaware and D.C. is encouraged to nominate a Carson Scholar candidate - a student in grades four through 12, who has at least a 3.75 grade point average and strong humanitarian qualities. Winners get a scholar award that's invested toward college. They can continue to reapply for that award as they go through school, acquiring more scholarship funds along the way.

Ben says he and Candy started the fund because they were dismayed at how today's kids look at entertainment and sports celebrities as their heroes, instead of folks who have used their smarts and education to help society. With 800 students now on the books as Carson Scholars - and considering the attention it got last weekend - it looks like the Carson Scholars program is gaining a celebrity status all its own.

Fiddle stars

Education and smarts tie into our next couple of musical stars in town recently. Classical violin virtuoso Joshua Bell and this country's premier folk and jazz violinist, Mark O'Connor, performed at the Meyerhoff on Sunday in the Chimes annual Hall of Fame celebration.

"They each had quite a following there," said David Nevins, the evening's honoree.

And after each had performed separately, the two performed together for the first time. David says that, first, Joshua would play a tune in a "classical manner." Then, Mark would put his "folksy-jazz" spin on the same melody.

The audience members weren't the only ones eating it up. Apparently, the two fiddlers were having a great time themselves, riffing off each other.

To submit tips, ideas and possible items for Hot Stuff, e-mail sloane@sloane or fax information to 410-675-3451.

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