The Enquirer - Charlie Daniels went down to Sparta
BY CHRIS VARIAS | ENQUIRER CONTRIBUTOR
Bootzilla went down to Sparta to hear “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”
Bootsy Collins was one of thousands of Charlie Daniels fans in attendance at Kentucky Speedway Saturday night, when the Charlie Daniels Band played a show prior to the Built Ford Tough 225 NASCAR truck race.
A crowd of 21,889 attended the race, and a track representative estimated that the concert, held on the concourse at Turn One, drew 8,000-10,000.
Despite getting second billing to an automobile race, Daniels didn’t play as if he were only there to fill a warm-up slot. He and his five-man band put on a headliner-worthy show full of the jazzy musicianship and boogie beats that made Daniels a star of the 1970s country-rock movement.
The fiddler-guitarist maintained a high-energy pace over his 75-minute set, and it would be hard to believe he turns 70 this year without double-checking a reference book.
On the other hand, you don’t need a Charlie Daniels bio to figure out he’s a proud Southerner. That fact is as obvious as his car-hood-size belt buckle and his Yosemite Sam cowboy hat.
Blazing instrumentation and rock-music arrangements set him apart from other country singers of his era, but it’s his Southern-themed material that really connects with fans. Sure, the crowd politely enjoyed a new instrumental song titled “Floreeda Road,” but people went absolutely nuts when he sang the praises of the late stock-car racing champion Dale Earnhardt in the song “The Intimidator.”
“Long Haired Country Boy,” Daniels’ statement of backwoods individuality that ranks as a country-music classic, and the flag-waving “In America” also hit big. He prefaced the latter by telling the crowd he recently returned from a trip to Iraq.
“Your media is doing you a vast injustice telling you we’re losing the war. We’re winning the war,” Daniels reported. “You ask any entertainer who has been there.”
Daniels reached back to Southern gospel for a power-ballad version of “How Great Thou Art” and capped off the show with his own timeless contribution to the Southern-music tradition, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”
And what was Bootsy doing there? Daniels and the Cincinnati funk icon are two members of an all-star ensemble that re-recorded the “Monday Night Football” theme song for the upcoming season. (The “MNF” band also includes members of Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band, Little Richard, Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, Hank Williams Jr., and others.)
Collins watched Daniels’ show from the side of the stage, and afterwards said that he’s scheduled to travel to Nashville for session work on Daniels’ upcoming CD.
Collins also paid his buddy the ultimate compliment. He called him funky.
“It was awesome, man,” he said of the concert. “Charlie Daniels brings funk to whatever he does.”