Monday, August 01, 2005

Storm sidelines Charlie Daniels after two songs "Fair concert ends on sour note: Storm sidelines Charlie Daniels after two songs

By Jenny Maher, Delaware State News
HARRINGTON -- With dark gray storm clouds hovering overhead and a blustery wind whipping through the air, the Charlie Daniels Band tore into the opening chords of 'Drinking My Baby Goodbye' at the Delaware State Fair Wednesday night.
It was the first song in what was supposed to be an hour-long set, filled with such favorites as 'The Devil Went Down to Georgia' and 'The South's Gonna Do it Again.'
The chart-topping group took the stage around 8 p.m. as the opening act for southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd in a sold-out concert at the fair grandstand.
Before the band could finish its second song, however, the skies opened and unleashed a heavy downpour on the fairgrounds, saturating fans as they frantically ran for cover.
With lightning bolts piercing the sky and thunder roaring in the distance, the Charlie Daniels Band left the stage, never to return.
'The people here tell me that for your safety and ours, we need to get off the stage and you all need to take shelter,' Mr. Daniels told the crowd.
It was the last words they heard from him that night.
Around 9:30 p.m., after waiting more than an hour in the rain for the band's return, fans were told that Lynyrd Skynyrd would soon perform.
Those who had come solely to see the Charlie Daniels Band were angry and annoyed.
Concert-goer Scott Armstrong of Bridgeville said he was disappointed with the way fair officials handled the situation.
'They could've easily brought the band back on and let them finish,' the longtime Charlie Daniels fan said.
'Or they could've at least apologized after we waited in the rain for an hour and a half.'
Fair spokeswoman Tricia Southard said the band's management decided it would be best not to finish the set.

"Because of the storm and because it was a weekday and a lot of people had to go to work the next day, it was decided to just let Lynyrd Skynyrd go on and give the best show possible," she said.

"If the Charlie Daniels Band went back on, we would've had to have cleaned the stage for them and then when they finished we would've had to have cleaned it again for Lynyrd Skynyrd. People had waited long enough."

Mr. Armstrong said he left the show after learning that the Charlie Daniels Band would not return.

Like many disgruntled fans, he hoped for a refund, but Ms. Southard said that will not happen. Tickets for the show cost $30 or $27.

"All tickets are non-refundable," she said. "And upon purchase, that information is given to the customer.

"We've had a couple calls from people wondering if there will be any special consideration, but this was a Lynyrd Skynyrd show and Charlie Daniels was the opening band. We feel that we did provide a Lynyrd Skynyrd show."

Charlie Daniels fans will have another chance to see the band in Delaware when the group performs Nov. 4 at Punkin' Chunkin' in Millsboro.

Like the fair, it is an outdoor event.

Mr. Armstrong said he doesn't know if he could handle the disappointment of another rained-out concert.

"I don't need to waste my time to see something that could be cancelled," he said.

"I'd probably only see Charlie Daniels again if it's at an indoor place."

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