The Scene: The Grizzly Rose was packed last Friday night with cowboys and a handful of city slickers. As I waited for the legendary Charlie Daniels Band to take the stage, I watched the crowd filter in from the cold night and I couldn’t believe my eyes when a man walked right passed me wearing an argyle sweater, pleated slacks and cowboy boots. Although this sort of attire is not typical at a good ol’ fashion ho down, it does speak to the wide appeal that The Charlie Daniels Band has. With the band’s incredible musicianship, talent and larger than life appeal, Charlie Daniels and his band have blurred the lines of Bluegrass, Country and Southern Rock for nearly 50 years.
The Charlie Daniels Band: With his fiddle in hand, Charlie Daniels lit the place up. Getting down to business,the band kicked the show into gear with a newer classic, “Redneck Fiddlin’ Man” from the 2002 album of the same name. The blood pumping songs and lightning fast fiddle playing were thrilling and fantastic. I watched the white haired music man sear through 3 bows in the first two songs alone and never missed a beat while handing off the ragged bows.
Daniels didn’t say much to crowd but when he spoke the crowd really seemed to listen. Right before playing “A Few More Rednecks” he simply said, “I was born in a redneck society, or as we use to call it ‘the working class.’” The crowd seemed to know exactly what they were getting into as the cowboys, and maybe a few self-proclaimed rednecks, got loud. The clean and classic sound of this skilled band made it feel like the song was being played for the first time. In no way did it sound tired or old even though it was released over 20 years ago. The same was true for the performance of the Southern pride song “The South Is Gonna Do It Again” which was released on the 1974 album Fire on The Mountain.
Johnny Cash would have been proud of Daniels’ cover of the timeless tune, “Folsom Prison Blues.” Charlie shared with the crowd how he ran into the beloved superstar back in 1967 and how Cash’s Country music royalty help to pave the way for his own long lasting career. The classic song took on a new life when Daniels added the line, “I shot a man in the Mile High,” of course we all know that this was just for a effect…but who doesn’t love having their city immortalized in song by a music icon? The cowboys at The Grizzly Rose treasured the gesture.
Several unexpected down and dirty jam sessions happened throughout the night with a style that seemed to really get the hardy crowd a little rowdy. In fact, these free flowing musical jams felt like a performance you might see at summertime festival near Boulder. One particular song featured drummer Pat McDonald on a lengthily solo that was surprisingly a little heavy while remaining spotless and booming. McDonald chugged an entire beer while pumping the kick pedal so fast it felt like a Heavy Metal solo. It was refreshing to see how the renowned sound of The Charlie Daniels Band seems to draw inspiration from other styles and genres of music.
No Charlie Daniels Band performance would be complete without the everlasting and downright bad-ass hit “The Devil Went Down To Georgia.” As Daniels and crew closed out the night a barn-burner of a version of the classic I couldn’t help but think about what an honor it was to see this living legend play.
Stage Presence: B-
Set/Light Show: B-