Southern music still ‘smokes’ with Charlie Daniels

Biggest crowd of 2018 shows up at Hempstead Hall

By Rick Kennedy, managing editor
Close to 40 years ago, Charlie Daniels once famously said, “When you want something that smokes, listen to the Charlie Daniels band…” Such energy, enthusiasm, and showmanship hasn’t waned in November 2018 as Daniels and his signature band brought the house down Friday night before the biggest crowd of the year at Hempstead Hall.
Starting with the classic “Southern Boy,” the 90-minute show was brisk, entertaining, and energetic — there’s that word again — right through to the very end of the 15-song set with a rousing version of all-time Daniels favorite “The Devil Went Down To Georgia.”
Considering he just celebrated his 82nd birthday on October 28, it was even more amazing to witness the multi-talented Daniels as he fiddled at a 100-mph pace, jammed on the guitar, and intermingled bits of his autobiography in between. Only his signature Cowboy hat was a big as his presence on stage.
A devout supporter of the NRA and military, there were also these brief political commentaries from Daniels as well, just as he broke into classics like “Simple Man” and “In America,” which the audience hooted and hollered in approval.
“In America” was further enhanced with Daniels changing out the line “Pittsburgh Steelers fan” from the original with “Arkansas Razorbacks fan,” while Daniels’ spooky telling of “The Legend of Wooley Swamp” was spot on, especially two days after Halloween.
Another Arkansas nod was given to Kingsland legend Johnny Cash when Daniels performed a rendition of “Folsom Prison Blues.”
And, then there was a stunning nine-minute instrumental called “Black Ice,” which sounded just like a Southern-style jam improvisation right out of the book of the legendary Allman Brothers.
In pacing himself throughout the show, Daniels ingeniously intertwined various instrumental solos and one singing solo from other members of his band, which undoubtedly provided him a welcomed respite in between his intense sessions with the fiddle and guitar.
Standards like “Long Haired Country Boy” and “A Few More Rednecks” were also performed in typical Daniels style.

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