Friday night I had the trill to photograph The Charlie Daniels Band in St. Augustine Florida during The Southern Uprising concert. Charlie Daniels has been playing music to his fans and the world for over 6 decades. Starting as a studio musician playing on three Bob Dylan albums. Charlie has writing credit on “It Hurts Me”, a song Elvis recorded. He also played in 1975 on Hank Williams Jr’s album “Hank Williams, Jr. and friends”.
Charlie Daniels will be celebrating his 82nd birthday this year and you would never know it watching him on stage. He may not move about as much as when he wore a younger man’s cloths, but he puts on a show that I will remember the rest of my life. “Long Haired Country Boy”, and “The South’s Gonna Do it Again” brought the crowd to its feet. The crowd really broke loose, with the initial notes dragged by the violin bow across the strings of the 1979’s crossover hit “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”. This song still gets airplay on classic rock and country music stations to this day.
More importantly than the music career that started when Charlie Daniels quit school in 1955, is the man. As I made my two and a half hour drive home after the show, I had time to reflect on what I had just experienced. I was treated to back stage access to meet Mr. Daniels. He was gracious, entertaining, and hospitable. He met fans for an hour just before the show. He signed autographs, posed for pictures, and shook hands. I can’t recall any artist with this much accessibility just before taking the stage to play to a packed house. You could easily see he really enjoyed every part of the interaction. Within minutes of exiting backstage, I had to hurry to find my place in the pit because The Charlie Daniels Band was taking the stage.
This is a very religious man in which he proudly displayed with his “Jesus Is Lord” belt buckle and sang “How Great Thou Art”, showing his gospel roots. He isn’t pretentious and doesn’t get on stage to preach, he is an entertainer. There was however a reference to America’s Armed Forces, and the packed house cheered loudly. We must give thanks to those men and women who are serving, have served, and those who will serve in the future. Mr. Daniels understands without the sacrifice of our Armed Forces; American lives might be much different. We wouldn’t be sitting in the open air of a spring night in an amphitheater enjoying live music in America’s First City. Charlie Daniels has been a big part of USO tours since 1990 and has performed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
There wasn’t any political shaming, just a sense of life is a blessing, So, let’s enjoy it. How refreshing.
Charlie Daniels is a great entertainer and musician, but more importantly, he is his own man and a patriot.
By Mark Horan