Thursday, July 19, 2007

Charlie plays with a symphony -- for $10 a ticket.

"I met a man from Tennessee
This is what he said to me
He said music is a rhapsody
He picked up his violin
Stuck it underneath his chin
And started playing me a symphony
I said that ain't the way it's done
Let me see that fiddle son
And I sawed him off a chorus or two
He said you'd better call the doctor
'Cause I think I've got
The Rocking Boogie Woogie Fiddle Country Blues"

Caviar & Country Biscuits
Symphony of the Mountains and Charlie Daniels together for final concert of Kingsport's Fun Fest

Thursday, Jul 19, 2007 - 10:49 AM
BY Tom Netherland (

Symphonies and Charlie Daniels go together like caviar and country biscuits.

Well, hold your assumptions, bud.

Meander over to the J. Fred Johnson Stadium in Kingsport on July 21 and watch as the seemingly divergent paths of the Charlie Daniels Band and Symphony of the Mountains cross and close out this year’s Fun Fest.

Together, they will entertain via such Daniels’ hits as "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." And together, they just might prove that yes, caviar goes mighty fine on hot buttered biscuits.
"I like the whole different thing," Daniels said last week by phone from Atlanta. "It’s really different than what we normally do."

Symphony of the Mountains music director and conductor Cornelia Kodkani-Laemmli has collaborated with Daniels on stage once before, when she served as the associate conductor of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra.

"It was great, and I really liked them," Kodkani-Laemmli said.

Swiss-born Kodani-Laemmli performed in an evening gown and cowboy boots that night. She also wore a hat, but it fell short of an actual cowboy hat. Daniels noticed.

"After the show, his road manager measured my head, and he sent me a hat," she said. "It’s a 10-gallon cowboy hat, and I’m going to wear that hat at the show."

Daniels said that the symphony would open the show. Kodani-Laemmli said to expect
performances of such widely accessible songs as "The Theme from Mission Impossible" and "God Bless America."

Then, the Charlie Daniels Band will join in at some point. Fans can look to hear the symphony and Daniels on such Daniels’ classics as "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," "The Legend of Wooley Swamp" and "Long Haired Country Boy."

Daniels will also perform some songs without the symphony. For example?"We’re doing ‘Rocky Top,’ " Daniels said. "You come to the show and you’ll hear ‘Rocky Top.’ "

Daniels, 70, first cracked the music business during the 1960s as a studio guitarist. He played on recording sessions for Bob Dylan and Ringo Starr. He then made his name as a bandleader during the 1970s with such Southern rock hits as "Uneasy Rider."

In other words, his music is a far cry from performing with a symphony. So imagine the thrill of getting to do just that.

"It’s adding 50 pieces to the band. You’ve got to really be on your toes," Daniels said. "We’ve got to play it right."

Daniels also fervently believes in living right.

Talk to him for five minutes and his passions – God, country, family, music – resound as clearly as the truth among a pack of liars. Or check out his new album, "Live in Iraq," which was indeed recorded in Iraq, last year.

"We were in a war zone," Daniels said. "We got shot at on a helicopter going back to Baghdad one night after a show. It’s a humbling feeling."

Meanwhile, Daniels has yet another show among his almost 40 years of shows to perform. Bear this in mind. Of his more than 5,000 concerts in those nearly 40 years, Daniels has performed no more than 20 concerts with a symphony.

"We’ve done over the years not 20 but a few," Daniels said. "The Nashville Symphony, the Knoxville Symphony, symphonies in Toledo, Baton Rouge – not many."

So, classify Daniels’ show with Symphony of the Mountains as incredibly rare. Oh, and just for the record, Kodkani-Laemmli said that folks need not worry about how they come dressed – for this or any other symphony show.

"You don’t have to dress up. I couldn’t care less what people wear," Kodkani-Laemmli said. "Lots of people think the symphony is for the stuffy or snobby people, and it’s not."

TOM NETHERLAND is a freelance writer.
Who: Charlie Daniels Band with the Symphony of the Mountains
When: July 21, 7 p.m.
Where: J. Fred Johnson Stadium, Kingsport
Tickets: $10
Info: (423) 229-4406

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