Big-time performer, small-town roots
When Charlie Daniels takes the stage Saturday in Central Park for Chingawassa Days, it won’t feel much different from his North Carolina roots.
“I am a small town type of person,” Daniels said. “I was raised in small towns and rural areas and consider myself to have a blue-collar attitude and have a lot in common with these folks.”
It’s hard to remember when there wasn’t a Charlie Daniels Band, but Daniels first stepped into a recording studio in 1959 with a group he cobbled together called the Jaguars.
It was 1972 when the now 80-year-old entertainer put together the Charlie Daniels Band, and the group has been recording and touring ever since. Daniels’ latest album, “Night Hawk,” came out last year.
Daniels will cover the full range of his work in concert.
“They can expect to hear the songs they know us for and some new stuff we’ve added, but mainly they can expect to be entertained,” Daniels said. “I’ve devoted my life to learning how to do that.”
Daniels has been known for Southern rock, country, and bluegrass styles, but he’s been influenced by a wide range of musicians.
“Bluegrass and country in my younger years and everybody from Fats Domino to Duane Allman,” he said. “I still enjoy the ’70s music.”
Daniels is most widely known for his No. 1 hit, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” Fans may be surprised to learn that there wasn’t any special inspiration for it.
“It’s actually a pretty boring story,” he said. “We needed a fiddle tune, I pulled the idea out of the air, and we wrote it in a short amount of time.”
With nearly 40 studio albums to his credit, as well as numerous compilation and live albums, Daniels has a huge repertoire. Many of the tunes of which he is most proud are obscure except to hardcore fans. He has a favorite among them, one that draws on his upbringing.
“There are several, but I’ll pick ‘Carolina, I Remember You,’ for now,” he said.
A song about simpler times with family and faith also could be Daniels’ theme song for a typical day on the road.
“I deal with my internet commitments first thing, those being a Bible verse and some other things I tweet every morning,” he said. “I read my Bible and the other four inspirational books I read every day. I usually spend some time with my musical instruments and enjoy the day with my wife.”
Much about the music industry has changed since Daniels got his start, and he sees no end to artists’ creativity.
“Technology has changed the sound of music,” he said. “There are constantly young artists who approach the creation of music from a different point of view. So it is, and it will continue to change.”