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Review: Charlie Daniels Band at Sharon Speedway
August 15, 2013 - Andy Gray
Give Charlie Daniels his due. At age 76, the man still can give the devil a fight on the fiddle.
Daniels displayed his skills as a fiddle man, guitar man and showman Wednesday at Sharon Speedway in Hartford in what the owners hope will be the start of regular concerts with local and national acts at the race track.
The speedway was hoping for 1,500-2,000 people for its first concert. Whether it was the unseasonably cool night, the midweek date or a shorter-than-normal window to sell and promote the show, they got about half that.
Local favorites The Fillbillys got the evening off to a rockin’ start, mixing in a little southern rock (Marshall Tucker Band’s “Can’t You See”) with tracks by James Gang, Queen and others.
CDB in one form or another has been together for 40 years. When the band started , it was seen as too renegade for traditional country. These days it may be too traditional for modern country. Daniels’ music never has fit easily in any niche, and Wednesday’s set certainly spanned genres.
The set ranged from album-oriented-rock staples of the ‘70s (“The South’s Gonna Do It Again,” “Long-Haired Country Boy”) to patriotic anthems (a recitation of “The Pledge of Allegiance” led into “In America”) and even some gospel (“How Great Thou Art”).
Daniels’ five-piece band showed off its chops on the instrumental “Black Ice,” a jazzy piece that wouldn’t have sounded out of place in a Santana set list. Drummer Pat McDonald played a double bass drum kit bigger than most heavy metal drummers’ kits (and played a solo longer than those at most heavy metal concerts).
Daniels switched between the fiddle and acoustic and electric guitars and pandered to the Ohio crowd. On a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues,” he changed a lyric to “I shot a man in Columbus just to watch him die … He was a Michigan Wolverines fan,” Daniels chuckled.
The show closed with Daniels biggest hit, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” and the fiddle work sizzled.
If there was a complaint, at about 70 minutes, Daniels definitely left the audience wanting – and expecting – more.
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