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Well-oiled Daniels machine delivers

NYCB Theater, Westbury, N.Y., September 7, 2013

Reviewed by Kelly Salonica

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Redneck Fiddlin' Man appropriately set the stage for Charlie Daniels' return to Westbury where he has been entertaining enthusiastic fans for more than 20 years. Hard to believe it's been that long given his flawless vocals and precise high-octane instrumentation this evening.

Even harder to believe is that Daniels has been in the business for 55 years (41 years with the CDB), and will be celebrating his 77th birthday next month. His impressive milestones include having a song recorded by Elvis Presley (It Hurts Me), playing with the likes of Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr and Marty Robbins, and producing Youngbloods before starting his own band in 1970. Daniels was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2008.

Daniels delivers exactly what you'd expect him to without a hiccup. The North Carolina native is a well-oiled machine, cranking out hits like The Legend Of Wooley Swamp in a way that transports you to a place only he can create, lyrically and musically infusing the senses with the swamp's smell and feel, not to mention the sounds and visuals. El Toreador wove Daniels' trademark fiddle playing with a Flamenco rhythm in this bull-fighter's anthem, while 1970's Trudy paid homage to his redneck-prided longevity.

Daniels' no-holds-barred outspokenness has not dimmed over the years, but is instead fueled by his vibrant passion for topics and events that matter most to him. To say he's opinionated would be an understatement as his Twitter followers can attest to (Sept. 9 tweet: The republicans have gonads the size of english peas and we're being lead by people who believe in unbelievably small wars. Go figure.) Daniels' patriotic passions include support of our troops, "No matter if you find 'em in a base here or a hell-hole in Afghanistan, they're the best we've got and I dedicate this song to everyone who ever served, is serving, or will serve in the armed forces," which he backed up with the Pledge of Allegiance and In America.

After sharing his thoughts on recent news events "Ain't no excuse for shooting a baby in a carriage or keeping three young women locked in a basement for 20 years with an 'I had a bad childhood'," it was the matter-of-fact values in Simple Man that earned Daniels one of the show's many standing ovations for his "simple" solution to dealing with lawbreakers. His back-off storytelling attitude was prominent in 1974 hit Long Haired Country Boy, with Daniels' Leave this Long Island country boy alone customization making everyone in the audience feel like a home-grown (if not southern-born) redneck.

Between the storytelling and ass kicking was the boozing Drinkin' My Baby Goodbye that made everyone want to get up and dance (and they did in the aisles), and The South's Gonna Do It (Again) had the crowd happily swinging. There was a Folsom Prison Blues nod to Johnny Cash "I went to Nashville in 1967," Daniels shared, "and it was a tough town but there was always one man who was good to me, and I'd like to pay tribute to him." Daniels' voice filled the theater in a powerful rendition of How Great Thou Art...if the backup harmonies were a bit tighter, the experience would have been over the top.

Daniels' finale of 1979 Grammy Award winning megahit The Devil Went Down To Georgia unleashed what remaining energy he had in reserve and set the audience on fire with his fastidious fiddle playing and vocal delivery of the quintessential CDB song.