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From the Country Standard Time Archives

Daniels entertains while bleeding red, white and blue

The Sun Theatre, Anaheim, Cal., Oct. 3, 2001 2001

By Dan MacIntosh

ANAHEIM, CA - It wouldn't be at all inappropriate for George W. Bush to appoint Charlie Daniels as the Domestic Southern Secretary of Patriotism, since nothing waves this man's flag like America's overly red, white and blue reaction to the events of September 11th.

With a big old cowboy hat pulled completely over his eyes, a belt buckle the size of a monster truck hubcap and a full beard that rises and falls piston-like with every chomp of his chewing gum, Daniels looks more than a little like a cartoon figure on first glance.

But when it comes to being a cheerleader for all things American, NASCAR and Southern, Daniels isn't fooling around.

It took Daniels only three songs to get to "In America," which is one of the pro-U.SA. songs that helped create his old glorified reputation. His performance of it was also filmed for an upcoming video.

At the tag end of his show, Daniels spoke of how fans had been emailing him since the disaster and asking if he was going to respond to its devastation with a new song. This has resulted in the more than slightly insensitively titled "This Ain't No Rag, It's A Flag," which is so new, Daniels had to read its lyrics from a sheet of paper taped to the stage floor. Predictably, it was a cry for justice, mixed with a whole lot of pride, and capped off by a chanted "U.S.A, USA" chorus.

Daniels outspokenness sometimes obscures his true musical talents, which is a shame. He is equally adept as a fiddler, as exemplified by his swift playing on "Orange Blossom Special," as well as an expert guitarist, which was displayed by the three-guitar jam at the end of "Saddle Tramp."

His show is a mixture of Southern rock, blues and Western-swinging country. The only obvious musical misstep came when Daniels accompanied himself with an acoustic guitar on "How Great Thou Art." Strangely, Daniels loudly belted out the words over his quiet picking, making for an almost un-listenable contrast.

"The Devil Went Down To Georgia" represented Daniels' lone encore song, and it now comes with a warning not to try this at home, because - in his words - "You can't beat the devil without the Lord." One gets the impression Daniels' world is as black and white, and as good vs. evil as portrayed by the characters in this song. It might feel good to cheer for the good guys and boo the bad ones, but life is usually much more complicated than that. It is doubtful, though, that Charlie Daniels fans come to hear any kind of a balanced analysis on world events. They come to hoot and holler and feel good about themselves.

You can criticize the man for turning his musical stage into a bully pulpit, but when it comes to putting on an entertaining show, you really can't beat Charlie Daniels.