CHARLES TOWN — Charlie Daniels has been playing professionally since 1958. He has played with countless famous musicians and won many awards, including two Grammys. His 1979 single, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” is a legendary crossover radio hit staple. He helped co-write a song made famous by Elvis Presley. He recorded three albums with Bob Dylan and had numerous collaborations with The Marshall Tucker Band. After more than 50 years on the road touring, most people would feel satisfied and be ready to take it easy.
Not Charlie Daniels.
“I will retire when I am 100,” Daniels said. “I make no plans for retirement. Really, when you get right down to it, what would I retire to do? There’s a lot of things I enjoy doing: I enjoy horseback riding, I enjoy playing golf, I enjoy hunting and fishing, I enjoy a lot of things. But, none of them I enjoy as much as playing music. There is nothing to retire to for me. My wife travels with me everywhere I go, so it’s like home away from home for me. There’s no reason for me to do anything else. My health is good and I am still able to entertain people. I would retire if I couldn’t entertain people.”
The soon-to-be 76-year-old music legend has successfully blended country music and rock music throughout his career. The songwriter behind such hits as “Long Haired Country Boy” and “The South’s Gonna Do It” draws upon many genres of music, all going back to his childhood influences.
“When I first started playing, I got into a bluegrass band because I was into fiddling. I was a bluegrass purist. That is what I wanted to hear and what I wanted to play.” That all changed with the arrival on the music scene of Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. The rock-a-billy style was guitar-oriented rather than the horn-oriented and had a profound impact on Daniels.
“Rock music started with big bands playing music with a beat, if you look back on it,” Daniels said. “When they came along, it made it possible for somebody like me — in fact, I used to play rock music with a bluegrass band because I was so intrigued with it — to play rock. Daniels said he bought an electric guitar when he was 18 and started applying this new sound. “It was my thing. Then I went into Bill Haley, Little Richard and Fats Domino then later on, Wilson Picket and the R&B type people.
Aside from Elvis, Daniels said working with artists like Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen allowed him to learn new things.
The Wilmington, N.C. native grew up in an era before on-demand music platforms, such as iPods and satellite radio. New music was harder to come by for an aspiring musician.
“The time that I came along, radio stations were far and few between,” Daniels said, in his distinctive southern drawl. “In the rural part of the South where I came (from), maybe your town would have one and maybe it wouldn’t. But the radio stations literally had the mandate that they had to have something for everybody. They would play gospel music on Sunday. They would play country music in the morning and when the kids came home from school, whatever pop music of the day happened to be. When I first started to listen, it was Big Bands. I was exposed to so many different kinds of music during my formative years that when I got ready to do original music it all just stayed with me and I have always been irreverent to mixing styles of music.
Because of his myriad of musical influences, Daniels has been a crossover chart topper. His music appeals to many different audiences.
“When I think of our music, if I literally had to put a genre to it, I would call it ‘American music’ because we do basically all the kinds of music that America has contributed to the world music scene,” Daniels said. “We do country, we do jazz, we do rock, we do folk, we do bluegrass, we do gospel. If you listen to one of our shows, you will hear some of all of that. I will mix genres of music, maybe three different kinds, within the confines of one song.”
Daniels credits hard work and honesty as his formula for success.
“Staying well-rested and staying current and keeping your chops in good shape. Not losing interest and not fluffing off on a show because you don’t feel like it or something goes wrong,” Daniels said. “People have bought their tickets and that is not their fault. You owe them a show. When you walk on stage, somebody has paid to see you and you owe those people sitting out front. If you keep that in mind that you have to give the people a show, that’s what it is all about. Keeping your commitments, always showing up for a show, playing the length of time that you are supposed to. My desire is to be the lowest maintenance band any promoter has ever worked with. This makes working with the Charlie Daniels Band a pleasant experience. Until you learn that, you are not going to go far in the music business.”
As much as he likes playing for audiences, Daniels said he also enjoys being at home.
“I am very much the home type person, desperately in love with my wife, my family, my grandkids, my son. I am a homebody when I get home,” Daniels said, describing his life when he is not on the road. “I don’t go out very much. I don’t hang with the glitzy crowd. I am not into the social world that goes on in the music capitals. I am a stay home person. I like my horses. I like my company to be rednecks for the most part. I am just me. I have no desire to be anybody else.”
Daniels is excited about coming back to West Virginia to play.
“We have played in West Virginia a lot over the years. We have played just about every town of any size through the years, Daniels said of the Mountain State. “I don’t believe we have every played at Shiley Acres but we are looking forward to it. We will try to shake it up a little bit when we get there.”
Want to go?
What: Charlie Daniels Band, with special guests The Davisson Brothers Band, Crossbonz and Blue Ridge Rain. Tickets are $25 at the gate.
Where: Shiley Acres, 1446 Nadenbousch Lane, Inwood
When: Saturday, gates open at 10 a.m., show starts at noon.
For details: Go to shileyacres.Net
|Shiley Acres to expand musical genreShiley Acres isn’t just for hard rock bands anymore. Greg Shiley said the open air concert venue that he reopened after 20 years wants to broaden its appeal.
“We plan on doing some country western music, we plan on doing some bluegrass in the future and we plan on doing rock and roll, which we have done in the past,” Shiley said. “We plan to do southern rock and modern rock, too.”
Shiley said reopening Shiley Acres was a challenge in itself, but the response has been great. “The response from the fans and the community, from the County Council to the sheriff’s department has all been all good. It’s been a great year. We are looking forward to next year. We have a lot of stuff on our plate.”
Shiley is excited about this Saturday’s show, which features the return of Charlie Daniels, who last appeared in the Panhandle in 2009 at Pickin’ in the Panhandle.
“This is going to be fun,” Shiley said. “I have wanted to do Charlie Daniels for 34 years. It was a long time coming. I have waited a long time to do this show. “Rain or shine, it’s going to be a blast.”
– Robert Smith