Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Pentagon Presents Charlie Daniels with Civilian Award

Washington, D.C. - American Forces Press Service - infoZine - By John J. Kruzel -

The Pentagon honored music legend Charlie Daniels here today with the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service for his support of military personnel.

Perhaps best known for his chart-topping platinum single, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," Daniels has played concerts for servicemembers at military installations around the world. The musician, who has been entertaining troops with his genre-blending style of country, blues and jazz for more than 35 years, says his life-long patriotism was born during World War II.

"I remember the day that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, and I have taken patriotism into my heart, I have taken the military into my heart, and it has been there ever since," Daniels said.

"The more I go among the military, the more I am convinced that you folks are the best America's got.

"It is an honor and a privilege to be able to come to wherever the military is, in whatever part of the world they happen to be in, to entertain them," he said.

The two Pentagon officials who presented the framed award citation and medal to Daniels took turns thanking him for his decades of steadfast support for U.S. troops. "This is an important opportunity for us to say 'Thank You' to Charlie Daniels for his very long service to the men and women in uniform," Michael L. Dominguez, principal deputy under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said. "He's performed for them in more than 20 different installations in countries across the globe, volunteering his time to do what he does best, and to bring them a little bit of America and a little bit of 'Thank You' from the people of America for the service they provide for our country."

In addition to visiting troops at bases in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Korea and elsewhere, Daniels started Operation Heartstrings in November 2005. The program to date has donated 100 Gibson guitars, as well as drums, keyboards, microphones, and more than 13,000 pieces of musical accessories to deployed servicemembers.

Brig. Gen. Mari Kaye Eder, deputy chief of Army Public Affairs, was elated to finally talk to the man who she's been listening to since childhood. "I'm thrilled to be here with Charlie Daniels; I grew up with him, though he doesn't know that," she said. "Every Sunday after church, my dad would play his records."

Wherever Daniels goes, he has friends in uniform and throughout the vast network of armed service personnel and family members, Eder said. "It's my honor to be here to represent just a few of them today," she added.

Daniels' multimedia CD and DVD offering titled "Live From Iraq" is set for release tomorrow. The Charlie Daniels Band recorded the music portion during the group's 2006 visit to bases around Iraq, and the bonus DVD features concert footage and video of the band interacting with military members serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Addressing servicemembers gathered here, Daniels thanked the men and women in uniform for their service to their country.

"I want to thank you for making America free," he said. "Without you there would be no America."

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

CDB pays tribute to troops with Live From Iraq CD

The Charlie Daniels Band releases a new album and bonus DVD dedicated to our heroes in Iraq. June 25, 2007 – On June 26, Charlie Daniels will release Live From Iraq—a two-disc, 13-song set of tunes recorded in Iraq during four performances by his legendary band as part of a Stars for Stripes tour entertaining U.S. and multinational troops.

While in Iraq, the 70-year-old Charlie and his band made stops in Arifjan, Baghdad, Tallil, Fallujah and other bases.

The new CD includes a bonus DVD featuring never-before-seen documentary footage, including a moving Easter service in Ur. "I'll never forget my trips to Iraq, having the honor of visiting with the heroes so far away from home who stand in harm's way daily to keep the torch of freedom burning brightly," proclaims Charlie. "It is with great love, admiration, respect and gratitude that I dedicate this project to the men and women who wear the military uniform of the United States of America, past, present and future."

To learn more about Charlie and his new project, check out

Friday, June 15, 2007

Evangelist Billy Graham's wife, 'his port in the storm,' dies at 87

By MIKE BAKER Associated Press and TIM GHIANNI Staff Writer, The Tennessean
MONTREAT, N.C. — Ruth Graham, 87, who surrendered dreams of missionary work in Tibet to marry a suitor who became the world's most renowned evangelist, died Thursday.
Mrs. Graham died at her home, surrounded by her husband and their five children, said a statement released by Larry Ross, Billy Graham's spokesman.

"Ruth was my life partner, and we were called by God as a team," Billy Graham said. "No one else could have borne the load that she carried. She was a vital and integral part of our ministry, and my work through the years would have been impossible without her encouragement and support."I am so grateful to the Lord that He gave me Ruth ... and my love for her continued to grow deeper every day. I will miss her terribly, and look forward even more to the day I can join her in Heaven."

'She was good for him'

Mrs. Graham had been bedridden for months with degenerative osteoarthritis of the back and neck and underwent treatment for pneumonia two weeks ago. At her request, and in consultation with her family, she had stopped receiving nutrients through a feeding tube for the past few days, Ross said.

Entertainer Charlie Daniels has performed on nine crusades with the Rev. Billy Graham and an additional three since his son, the Rev. Franklin Graham, began spearheading that part of the ministry.

"She was good for him. She was good for the nation. I'm sure she went home to her reward," Daniels said."I think she was very steadying to him. We all need to go home to heal up once in a while. There was an awful lot of pressure on Billy Graham when he was preaching in those huge coliseums night after night. I think she was that place where you go home and get your battery charged and be with someone you can trust 100 percent. She was his port in the storm."

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Charlie Daniels Comments on Pop Country Music

Charlie Daniels: One of a kind
By Roy E. Deering
ADA – For the past 50 years, Charlie Daniels has made a lot of music, made his share of money, and had an awful lot of fun. Friday night, the 70-year-old country music legend will bring his unique style of entertainment to the Robert S. Kerr Activities Center on the campus of East Central University for a concert that will benefit the school's growing Communications Department.

Joining Daniels on stage Friday for the 8 p.m. show will be Oklahoma native Bennin Hunt.

Daniels will honor members of a local national guard unit who have been invited to attend the concert as guests of local businesses and community organizations. Although Daniels is being paid to perform, he said the chance to meet the local guardsmen will be his honor.

"For me to have the chance in person to thank these men and women for their sacrifice and for their willingness to carry the torch of freedom is a tremendous privilege," Daniels told the Ada Evening News in a telephone interview last week.

"I have the utmost respect for the men and women who fight for freedom. I've been to Iraq twice and I have always been a tremendous supporter of our armed forces. To me, it's sickening when you hear some of the national media people trying to discredit and dishonor them these days."

Known for such classic rockin’ country songs as "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," and "Long Haired Country Boy," the outspoken Daniels said he'll bring a high-energy family show to Pontotoc County Friday night."

First, it's a family show," Daniels said. "I have always tried hard to provide a show that's suitable for all ages. Second, we will play the songs people want to hear – like 'The Devil' and 'Long Haired Country Boy', because it makes me angry when I go to a concert and the performer sings one or two songs you know, and then spends an hour trying to sell you his new album.”

Winner of two Grammy Awards and numerous Grammy nominations, Daniels has recorded nearly 50 albums in his five decades in country music. Know for his high-energy fiddle playing and back woods, simple messages, Daniels said it was hard for him to comprehend that he was now in his 70s.

"I don't know how long I'll keep playing," Daniels said. "All I know is that I have no plans for retirement. I can't even stand the word. As long as the Good Lord gives me the ability and the desire to keep getting up on stage, I'd rather be there than anywhere else in this world."

Known for his trademark white beard and white felt cowboy hat, Daniels has been a fixture on country – and even rock – radio stations for more than 40 years.

His biggest hit, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," has been covered by numerous artists over the years. One of those covers was a rap version, one Daniels found "entertaining," but not quite his "cup of tea."

A rebel in life and in music, Daniels said his proudest accomplishment in music is that he has stayed true to himself and has not allowed his music to be controlled by recording executives.

"I love the fact that country music is the fastest growing music out there right now," Daniels said. "But I absolutely hate that all the singers look and sound the same.”

"It's like the record companies use the same little cookie cutter and give them all the same sound, the same look and the same songs. There's no one unique out there any more."

Yes, there is. And his name is Charlie Daniels.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

CDB Volunteer Jam 2007 - Shoreline Amphitheatre Recap

I just returned from the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California and here is the recap. I was able to go with three friends of mine, which was great, since originally I was only going with one. Thanks to Ginger Ambrose from the CDB Volunteers, who sent me a couple of extra meet and greet passes, there was room for more so my buddy Mike and his wife Melissa went along with Scott, who had never had the privilege of seeing the CDB. It's always fun to bring a newcomer to the music, because they inevitably become fans, and even better when they get to meet Charlie. It's like never having tasted chocolate then getting to meet Willie Wonka at the factory.

The show started at six and right on schedule the Outlaws opened up the show with Ghost Riders in the Sky. They played a few of their hits including Green Grass and High Tides, along with a new one called Rippin through Kentucky, Almost Home, and Trail of Tears. They closed their set with Hurry Sundown. It was a great set, although it seemed short, and I may have missed a song or two from the set list. Hughie Thomasson and company were in great form, and were joined on two songs by David Muse from The Marshall Tucker Band and Pat McDonald from the CDB, who added two the drum corps (they play with two sets) by banging on the bongos. This is a great guitar band, and worth catching these guitar virtuosos play it like they meant it. It was cool to see Hughie Thomasson leading his own band, since the only time I'd seen him before was as a sideman for Skynyrd. Check out Outlaws tour dates at their website,

Next up was the incomparable Marshall Tucker Band, who started their set with This Ol' Cowboy. Doug Gray was on vocals and in between songs joked with the sizable crowd about his age (59) and his ex-wives (>1). They have a new album coming out June 19th called The Next Adventure. This is what was posted from a similar set on the MTB message boards, and it seems to jive pretty well with what we heard:

This Ol' Cowboy
Dog Eat Dog World
Fire on the Mountain
Hillbilly Band
Georgia Moon
Can't You See

Chris Hicks played guitar and sang on a solo song he has worked up called Dog Eat Dog World for an album to be released by Sony. He's an outstanding musician, with a real feel for the blues. We had to leave right after Fire on the Mountain to go backstage and visit with Charlie, so unfortunately missed some of the MTB set.

We lined up by one of Charlie's tour buses called the TPR II (Twin Pines Ranch, I guess) and waited in line for a while with other lucky folks, to meet Charlie and get some pictures signed that were handed out by none other than Mr. Dean Tubbs. There was a a curtain opened to the stage, so we had a glimpse of the MTB playing Can't You See.

We were moved to a crowded trailer to wait to meet Charlie as the MTB played for the masses, and slowly made it up to Charlie, who was kind enough to sign the pictures Dean had presented us. We snapped a quick picture and made it out of there with just a little bit of chit-chat with Charlie. I mentioned how I was sorry I hadn't made it to the fan club party last week, and Charlie said I should come next year, something I really hope to be able to do one of these days. Mike wished him a happy birthday, and Charlie thanked him and pointed out that his birthday had been in October, but he'd been out of the country and they just celebrated it at the fan club party. A side note here, that if you ever want to go to a BBQ and private party with the band, that it would be possible if you would join the fan club. It's every year in June in Charlie's hometown. That kind of accessibility is one of the many reasons I love the CDB and try to keep this site up.

After that, we were shuttled out, and Mike was able to snap a picture of the Marshall Tucker Band finishing their set.

By the time we got some garlic fries the show was about to begin, and it opened with a bang with Drinkin' My Baby Goodbye. Here's the complete set list:

Drinkin' My Baby Goodbye
El Toreador
Simple Man
Wooley Swamp
The Pledge of Allegiance and In America
Floreeda Road (with David Muse from the MTB on Sax)
Long Haired Country Boy
How Great Thou Art
Rocky Top -- Charlie on Fiddle
The Devil Went Down to Georgia
The South's Gonna Do It Again (with the Outlaws and the Marshall Tucker Band)

Notice that Charlie played a few songs from the Full Moon album, including Money, which was a first for me to hear in concert.

Also worth mentioning was the incredible drum solo by Pat McDonald in Floreeda Road. Pat is a maniac and it is amazing to see him work the skins in such a large venue that seemed to tax their ample sound system. Not to take anything from the rest of the band, but to see people unable to keep their seats for a drum solo was quite something. It proved why the CDB doesn't need two drummers when this one can play as well as any three, and stats from the US Geological Survey registered it a 4.7 on the Richter Scale. Fans are looking forward to the release of the CD with a studio version of Floreeda Road and another Chris Wormer vehicle -- The Flight of the Bumblebee. That should be interesting!

The show wrapped up with Charlie bringing all three bands together to play the CDB standard The South's Gonna Do It Again, and it was like watching a nuclear bomb detonate with all the musicians playing at once.

It was the closest thing to a Southern Rock Symphony that Northern California has heard.

Hopefully, it won't be the last.

More pictures of the event. are available here.

Monday, June 04, 2007

CD opines on God, politics and Bob Dylan

Busted: Charlie Daniels

The country music legend opines on God, politics and Bob Dylan

Interview by Fr. Dave Dwyer CSP

He's a born again Christian who made his name in the 1970s with a song about the devil. He's also a "Long Haired Country Boy" who is fiercely patriotic. Charlie Daniels' 40-plus year career has never been short on contradictions so it came as no surprise that the Grammy-winning perfomer also wasn't short on opinions either.

Daniels recently sat down for an interview with Fr. Dave Dwyer during Fr. Dave's daily "BustedHalo Show" on Sirius Satellite radio.

BustedHalo: Now I know the tradition you were raised in was not Catholic, but you’ve got an experience of Catholicism.

Charlie Daniels: Yes, I do and it was a very special experience, and it was Easter a year ago. We had gone to Iraq to entertain the troops and we were there Easter Sunday and inside the wire at Talil airbase is the ancient city of Ur. Where Abraham is from. There’s a pagan temple there that’s like four thousand years old. Within the city, or course when Saddam Hussein was in power, nobody could go in. I think it was an English archeologist who had gone in there before Saddam had taken over and located, as best they could, the house of Abraham and they had restored the foundation. In other words, you could tell how big it was, how many rooms it had and everything. But a chaplain took us around over there on a Saturday afternoon and I found out that we were going to have a Catholic Easter sunrise service over the next morning at Abraham’s house, and we went and there were so many people. It was pretty neat being in there on Easter, knowing that the patriarch of the Jewish nation—the race of our lord and savior Jesus Christ —had lived there.

BH: In addition to all your projects, you’re still touring, your book came out a few days ago that you helped edit. But you’re a big proponent on your soap box blog of free speech and freedom of religious expression. Tell us a bit about that. What gets you on your soap box?

CD: Well back when we started our website, one of the guys who helped set it up for us told me ‘You’re very opinionated. Why don’t we start a column where you express your opinion.’ And I started doing it weekly, and then it got a little more readership, so then I started doing it twice a week. I like to write about anything, I write about politics or going shopping with my wife which, in fact, turned out to be two cuts above getting root canal done, so sometimes it’s silly, sometimes it’s very serious. But one of the things I get very serious about is religion. It seems the ACLU and a few other organizations are constantly trying to crush any symbolism or any expression of Christianity, much more so than any other religion, it seems that Buddhism doesn’t bother them, Islam doesn’t bother them, any other religion. But any time you put a cross up, or a creche, or…

BH: The Ten Commandments.

CD: …anything that symbolizes the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, there is an objection to it and I don’t like that. I really get up in arms about it. And I’ve written some pretty strident things about the ACLU and the United Nations.

BH: Well I’ve often said in homilies and such that it feels like one of the principles upon which this country was founded was the freedom of religion and somehow that has morphed into the freedom from religion. That we can never mention religion in the public sphere, and that’s certainly not what the founding fathers had in mind, and if somebody’s deciding to go in that direction we should probably all vote on that, huh?

CD: Well, yeah, if you read the Constitution, it doesn’t say that. People talk about separation of Church and state is not in the Constitution, that was in a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote that had even at that time was not meant to mean that, but it says that congress shall pass no law concerning religion, is the exact terminology.

"Dylan said ‘I don’t want another guitar player, I want him.’ And that was the turning point in my have those words come out of Bob Dylan’s mouth, that made you feel like you’re really worth something.
You need a little self worth once in a while, you need a little pat on the back."

BH: It seems like these days, as you’re pointing out, that a lot of people are moving towards the prohibition of expression.

CD: Well it was meant to protect the Church from the government. Not the government from the Church. When the forefathers came over they never meant ours to be a Godless society, by any stretch of the imagination. If we talk about our federal papers, and what our forefathers intended for this to be, well they came here to practice their religion in a way that they saw fit, whatever it happened to be. So I think we’re off on the wrong road there.

BH: Yeah, and it sounds like your soap box is a place where people can hear more about that. It’s Charlie Daniels

CD: It’s I update it twice a week usually on Friday and Monday.

BH: You’ve played with some great artists over the past 40 years can you tell us some of your memories of those experiences?

CD: Bob Dylan came to town doing an album called, “Nashville Skyline” and being a huge Dylan fan, a friend of mine was producing the sessions, a guy named Bob Johnston, and I was trying to make it as studio musician in Nashville and was working in a night club to make a living. I said [to Johnston] you got to let me play on a Dylan session so I can always say that I played with the great Bob Dylan. So he had me come in one afternoon and I played on some songs. And I was packing my instruments about to leave to go to my club gig, and Bob Dylan asked the producer, ‘where’s he going?’ Johnston told him I was leaving and that he had another guitar player coming in. Dylan said ‘I don’t want another guitar player, I want him.’ And that was the turning point in my life basically because after being low man on the totem pole in Nashville for so long and to have nobody really paying any attention, to have those words come out of Bob Dylan’s mouth, that made you feel like you’re really worth something. You need a little self worth once and a while, you need a little pat on the back once and while you know.

BH: Now, you’ve got a Grammy award, I’ve always wondered, is it heavy?

CD: No it’s not.

BH: Because it looks like a little Victrola. I wonder if they’re going to keep the same shape now that nobody knows that this looks like a Gramophone.

CD: I don’t think anybody’s known what that thing’s looked like for the last forty years.

BH: It should look like an iPod or something.

CD: But it wouldn’t be a Grammy, it would be a poddy, I guess

BH: (laughs) Well it’s time to go poddy I guess. Thank you for joining us here on the BustedHalo Show.

CD: It was a pleasure sir. I had a great time, and I thank you for having me on. Maybe we'll do it again someday.

BH: That would be great. Many of our listeners are truckers on the road and you’re on Sirius’s road channel, right?

CD: I’m the voice of the Road Dog channel.

BH: There you go! And now the voice of the Catholic Channel.

CD: I can do that.

BH: (laughter) Well God Bless and good luck with the many ways that you will be speaking out on behalf of the church and Christians.

Fr. Dave Dwyer CSP is the Director of Paulist Young Adult Ministry and the host of the "BustedHalo Show" on Sirius satellite radio.

Thanks to for the pointer.