Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

October 29, 2014 at 12:45pm

Playin' It Hot: Loud and proud with Charlie Daniels

Charlie Daniels / press photo

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I can't and won't profess to be a country music aficionado. Luckily for our purposes, however, I do know someone who can lay fair claim to being an expert: my father-in-law, Greg Stevens. Now in radio ad sales (and occasional jingle writing), he spent decades singing and playing guitar for a touring country band called The Wichita Linemen. When I learned Charlie Daniels was playing the Lucky Eagle Casino, I contacted Greg immediately, as I knew he'd played with Daniels on numerous occasions.

It may surprise you to learn Daniels began his career as a session musician who played with Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan and wrote an album cut for Elvis. There's no question Charlie Daniels has established himself since then as one of the greatest crossover artists in the history of country and Southern rock. I asked Greg how he met the Grand Ole Opry inductee and North Carolina icon. "Charlie Daniels is a very benevolent fellow," Greg began with no hesitation. "I worked a fundraiser, and (Daniels) offers his services to various charities." In his home state, for example, Daniels produces annual Volunteer Jam concerts, which began in 1974 and continue to this day. "We had a place (in Wichita) called the Starkey (Supervised Living Program), which provides housing for people with developmental disabilities...Charlie got involved about 1988, and he came, and we had this big dinner and auction fundraiser on a Sunday night. The Wichita Linemen were playing, and he got up and did ‘The South's Gonna Do It Again' and ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia' and all his stuff that was in our repertoire. People just went crazy, so they had big plans: ‘Next year we're gonna do this big concert! Charlie's gonna play.' It's expensive to bring his whole band in. Our band was already there, so he would just send us a list of songs he's gonna do, and we'd perform those songs on the show. He'd close out the show...We did that for approximately ten years ... (The charity) made several million dollars out of that activity."

"For Y2K, New Year's Eve," Greg continued, "we opened for him at the Museum of the Horse in Ruidoso, New Mexico. After he got done performing and took it right up to midnight, his band and our band jammed together till two o'clock in the morning. ... There is no finer human being on the face of the earth," Greg concluded with obvious sincerity. "He's charitable, he's giving. He never ceases to amaze me as far as helping new country acts get into the business. He's extremely supportive of the troops. He's been to Iraq, I think twice. He's just a phenomenal human being."

Not to mention one hell of a fiddle player. Don't believe me? Ask a certain Lord of the Flies.

CHARLIE DANIELS BAND, 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 1, Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel, 12888 188th Ave. SW, Rochester, $30-$70, 800.720.1788

LINK: Live bluegrass and country bands will perform at the Polar Plaza ice rink in downtown Tacoma

Filed under: Music, Concerts,
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