Thursday, September 2, 2010

Charlie Daniels Wraps Up Summer Concert Series Thursday Night

The Tioga Downs Summer Concert Series wraps up Thursday night with the Charlie Daniels Band. Tickets start at $20 and are available at the Players Club and Ticketmaster outlets. Here's a preview of the concert from the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin:

There's no doubt that Charlie Daniels is an American patriot, and he's never been shy about expressing his love for God, country, family and flag.

When it came time to compile his latest album, though, the country-rock legend admits that even he didn't realize just how many true-blue American tunes he's released over his 52-year career.

"Patriotism to me is always in style, but now — especially now — we need a little shot in the arm," Daniels, 73, said last month from a stop in Oklahoma.

"Land That I Love," released in August on Blue Hat Records/E1 Entertainment, gathers 13 classics such as "Simple Man," "This Ain't No Rag, It's a Flag," "Still in Saigon" and "In America," and updates "(What This World Needs Is) A Few More Rednecks" to take a shot (literally) at terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden. The album's lone new track, "Iraq Blues," talks about a military man's plans once he gets home from his tour of duty. (On the list: Get some beers and spend some quality time with the wife.)

The multiplatinum-selling North Carolina native, best known for the Grammy-winning fiddle epic "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," now makes his home in Tennessee. Before his show tonight at Tioga Downs Casino in Nichols, he answered a few questions about his life, career and views on America in the 21st century.

QUESTION: Your song "In America" was originally written about Americans coming together during the Iran hostage crisis in 1980. Here we are, 30 years later, we're sharply divided again. Do you think we'll ever get together and find a way for everyone to get along?

ANSWER: It's hard. It seems like it takes something catastrophic to unite this country, and we have a short memory. 9/11 was definitely a wakeup call to everybody about our country and about how precious it is — about what can happen here and what did happen here. It never happened here before, and it showed we're a lot more vulnerable than we used to be.

So as we go along, we forget about those pictures of the planes crashing into the trade towers and all the things that went on that day. Our 24-hour news cycle, everything going on in this country and outside this country that involves us — the economy, this, that and the other thing. We tend to let our psyche wander around and we don't stay focused on things like that. ... We're able to get together, but you've got to just about hit us in the head to get everybody's attention at the same time.Q: A lot of people think of the Charlie Daniels Band as the essence of country music, but you've covered so many different styles over the years. Where do you think that eclectic spirit comes from?

A: I'll be 74 in October, so I've been around a long time. The era of radio that I came up in — I grew up in towns and rural areas where there would be maybe one radio station in your town. Maybe you wouldn't even have one in your area, but there'd be one in the next town you'd listen to. They were sparse, and there was no television, and they were very responsible for entertaining everybody.

The mandate of radio stations — it still is to this day — is supposed to be service to the community. Of course, it's a commercial venture and should be such — but these stations, since there were so few of them, they had to cater to everybody's taste. There were no formatted stations as we've come to understand the word nowadays. They played country, they played gospel music, they played whatever the popular music of the day was. Once in a while, some of the stations would play classical music. And when you're brought up in the South, you're always exposed to the blues.

So I came up hearing a lot of different kinds of music, so I guess it was kind of natural that when the time came to create my own music, some of that would creep into my psyche.

Q: You're obviously known as a fiddle guy — as the commercial said earlier this year, "Does Charlie Daniels play a mean fiddle?" I hear that's a ringtone now.

A: Yeah, when my son calls me, my phone plays that. (laughs)

Q: That's pretty funny! So I'm guessing people can see some of your fiddle wizardry in action during the show.

A: Absolutely — the first couple of tunes I play are fiddle. You know something, you owe people those songs. You owe them the songs they've heard on the radio, the ones they are familiar with. That's what they come see you for. They don't know about your other stuff. I hate to go see a band and they do a medley of their hits, then spend the rest of the night trying to sell me their new album. I want to hear their new album, I want to hear about it, but I don't want to have to sit there and listen to all their new stuff. I came to see them because of something I heard someone play on the radio or something I saw them do on TV. I don't want to see the Rolling Stones and they don't do "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." I don't want to see Eric Clapton and he doesn't play "Layla." You owe people that — that's what they expect. Then, in between the familiar songs, you weave in your other stuff.

Q: I'm sure since your stroke earlier this year, a lot of people have asked you how your health is.

A: I'm fine. I really try to take good care of myself. It was a blood pressure situation that happened with me — I had had some high blood pressure, but I went on vacation January and February in Colorado and didn't keep as close a watch on it as I should have. I had the stroke and it was a wakeup call: "Take care of yourself, boy!" (laughs)

Q: So you've been doing music now for more than 50 years. What drives you to still go out and play?

A: Because I love what I do — I sincerely love what I do. If I didn't love what I do, I wouldn't do it another day. ... I'm excited about it — I love getting up and making people happy when I'm onstage.