When you think of Charlie Daniels, most of us automatically think of the song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” and that down home fiddle playing by a true music legend.
Daniels will be on stage at the Cattaraugus County Fair on Wednesday, August 1, kickin’ it up a couple notches and giving the fans what they want to hear.
The singer has been a fan favorite since the 1950’s and at the age of 81 hasn’t even considered slowing down, still performing over 100 shows a year.
I interviewed Daniels in 2004 and was graciously given the chance to talk with him again about his upcoming show at the fair.
Like in 2004, Daniels could not have been more kind, and he has not changed a bit. We enjoyed our time talking about his career and another passion of his which he has discovered more recently.
Inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2008 was a highlight of his career, and he returned center stage in April of this year to mark his 10th anniversary.
It’s impossible to list everything Daniels has done … the list keeps growing, and he is taking it all in stride.
“I love what I do,” says Daniels of his 50-plus years in the music business. “I look forward to entertaining people. When show time gets here, I’m ready to go, ready to go play for them. It’s a labor of love. I just thank God I make a living at what I enjoy doing.”
His personal highlight of his life is being married to his wife Hazel for 54 years, this September. What is his secret for a long lasting marriage? “You have to marry someone you are going to enjoy waking up with every day and spend time with every day,” said Daniels. We agreed that it’s tough to find that commitment in marriages these days. Telling him I’ve been married for 34 years, he told me … hang in there kid … a few more and you’ll be where my wife and I are.
The Cattaraugus County Fair will run July 30 - Aug. 5, 2018. Charlie Daniels is scheduled to perform Aug. 1. For more info and tickets, visit www.cattarauguscofair.com. For more information on Charlie Daniels, go to his website at www.charliedaniels.com.
A CONVERSATION WITH CHARLIE DANIELS
HULICK: I talked with you in 2004 and I am thrilled to be talking with you again.
DANIELS: Well thank you very much. That’s been a while hasn’t it?
HULICK: It has … we’re both a little older.
DANIELS: Well we’re both still above on the right side of the grass and kickin’! That’s the main thing. (laughs)
HULICK: I can’t believe all you’ve done since we last spoke.
DANIELS: Well my interests go in so many different ways and I have discovered over the past few years that I have a passion for writing and I can take it to places I never did before. So I’ve gotten pretty heavy into writing books. I just had one come out, “Never Look At The Empty Seats” and I got another one coming out in the fall. It’s amazing because my English teacher would not believe this … believe me … at all. (laughs) Then of course there’s the music. I am always doing music … all different kinds. When I was a kid radio stations were not formatted for one type of music. The stations had to follow the mandate of the Federal Communications System, so I got some of everything … gospel, pop - in the form of big bands, country and so on. I developed a taste for all of it. When we started out I didn’t classify what kind of music we played … we just played music. Whatever people wanted to call us was OK. I called it American music.
HULICK: I’ve seen your show and the energy you put out on that stage is incredible. It’s a lot of fun!
DANIELS: Well that’s what they pay us for. We’re there because people spent their hard earned money to come see us.
HULICK: You talk about that in your book … about having a positive attitude when you walk on stage. I love the message you convey when you say … “Your troubles are your own and are not included in the ticket price. Some nights you have more to give than others, but put it all out there every show. You’re concerned with the people who showed up, not the ones who didn’t. So always give them a show, and never look at the empty seats.”
DANIELS: Well that is true and it is a life lesson for any profession and especially for the young artists starting out on their musical journey.
HULICK: You are famous for your Volunteer Jams that you started where artists from all genres come together and raise money for your non-profit organization, The Journey Home Project, which helps American veterans meet their education, healthcare and employment needs.
DANILES: Yes. We just had one and we celebrated the 42nd year of the jams. Do you believe that? We started in 1974. We used to do them every year but we don’t do that anymore, it’s just so much of an undertaking. But we’ve done them the past couple years. I’m not sure when the next one will be.
HULICK: Do you think you could get into the record books with the number of times you’ve played your song, “The Devil Went Down To Georgia”?
DANIELS: (laughs) Well I don’t know but there might be a couple of other artists that has songs they’ve played that many times, but we’ve played it every show since 1974. (laughs)
HULICK: That song is played daily on a station here in Buffalo that plays all types of music. If I’m in the car and it comes on I crank it up! Hearing it on the radio station is one thing, but I have to say that seeing you do it live is crazy fun!
DANIELS: When we play it live you get to expand on it, so that’s a lot of fun. Also I get the chance to do it better tonight than last night and tomorrow I’ll get the chance to do it better than the night before. I haven’t played it perfect yet.
HULICK: Oh yes you have!! (laughs) Before I let you go … in 2004 I asked you what your perfect day would be and your answer was … “It would start with my wife and my grandson. Maybe play golf, have a good meal and really enjoy ourselves.” What would your answer be today?
DANIELS: Well I don’t play much golf anymore and my grandson is now 21 and is going to college so we don’t spend the time together like we used to. Let’s put it like this … the practical side has changed, but the philosophical has not.