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CHARLIE DANIELS & GRAND FUNK RAILROAD HEADLINE OC BIKE FEST 2012
Written By: Brenda Golden
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 CHARLIE DANIELS & GRAND FUNK RAILROAD HEADLINE OC BIKE FEST 2012
Charlie Daniels Band
 CHARLIE DANIELS & GRAND FUNK RAILROAD HEADLINE OC BIKE FEST 2012
Charlie Daniels
 CHARLIE DANIELS & GRAND FUNK RAILROAD HEADLINE OC BIKE FEST 2012
GRAND FUNK RAILROAD
 CHARLIE DANIELS & GRAND FUNK RAILROAD HEADLINE OC BIKE FEST 2012
GRAND FUNK RAILROAD
    If the measure of a man is a reflection of his accomplishments, then surely Charlie Daniels is a giant of a man. 1994: Album The Door won the Dove Award from the Gospel Music Assoc. for Best Country album of the year. 1996: Daniels delivers the Univ. of North Carolina at Wilmington commencement address and was presented the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters. 1998: Daniels was presented The Pioneer Award by the Academy of Country Music. 1999: Daniels receives the Living Legend Award at The Music City News/TNN Awards show. 2001: Charlie Daniels is inducted into his hometown of Wilmington, North Carolina’s prestigious Walk of Fame. 2005: Daniels is honored as a BMI Icon at the 53rd Annual BMI Country Awards - “In recognition of your unique and indelible influence on generations of music makers.” 2007: Daniels is honored with the 2007 AMVETS Silver Helmet Award in Washington, D.C. and the Office of the Secretary of Defense Exceptional Public Service award. 2008: Charlie celebrates 50 years of music and is officially inducted into the Grand Ole Opry; is honored by the Country Radio Broadcasters with the Career Achievement Award. 2009: Daniels is inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame; receives T.J. Martell Honor with the Lifetime Entertainment Achievement Award. Daniels earns a Star on the Music City Walk of Fame in Nashville. And on Oct. 17, 2012, he will be honored with the Leadership Music Dale Franklin Award.
    These awards are just the icing on the cake for a man who has lived his life through love of music, family, God & country; not necessarily in that order. I would need pages to relate all the music awards, TV and movie appearances, his book, Growing Up Country: What Makes Country Life Country; up to his latest song, “Behold A Pale Horse,” that is the title track for the movie of the same name.
    It all began when Charlie first picked up a guitar at about age 17 (1953) and performed with the Misty Mountain Boys in his hometown of Wilmington, N.C. With friend Russell Palmer, he wrote his first song and “never looked to do anything else.” In 1956 he played a gig in Jacksonville, N.C., with the Rockets and officially began his professional career with them in 1958. The Jaguars was the next group in ‘59, recording for Epic Records with Bob Johnston, later Columbia Records’ leading folk and country producer. In 1963 Daniels co-wrote “It Hurts Me” which was recorded by Elvis Presley. That year he played on Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline and on sessions with Ringo Starr and Marty Robbins.
    If you notice, as I did, that all this time he was playing guitar - where’s that famous fiddle? In our phone conversation last week I asked him just that.
    “I started messin’ around with the guitar first, then a friend brought over a mandolin and I fooled around with that a bit,” Daniels told me. “So I had a little bit of an edge when a friend brought over a fiddle since the fingerboards are the same. I had a lot of fun playing bluegrass with my friends. It was all self-taught.” When Elvis & Carl Perkins hit the scene, Daniels picked up an electric guitar and went country rock for awhile.
    I told him I was at his show at the Convention Ctr. and met him in his travel bus and asked if he had ever actually seen Ocean City. “I was there in ‘63 or so playing at the Peppermint Lounge,” he said, “and got a look around then.” How many remember that place? I asked Charlie how does it feel that so many of his songs, such as “Long Haired Country Boy” and “Devil Went Down to Georgia,” are still played by contemporary bands.
    “I feel blessed,” he told me. “These songs transcend generations because it’s all about the American way. We’ve got to live together, but give me the right to be me. If you don’t like me, then just don’t be around me.” Talking about his strong convictions to the American ideal of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness he said, “I’ve been a patriot all my life. I was just 5 years old when Pearl Harbor was bombed. I was young but I knew what was going on and that it could affect our way of life, our freedom. That’s why,” he went on “I respect our military who stand between us and the enemies of freedom, and I believe that of all people who should be honored and taken care of, it’s the fine young men and women of our military.” True to his words, Daniels entertains our troops all over the world.
    Charlie honors God and family, too, making no qualms about saying he’s a Christian, married to Hazel for 48 years who, since the kids have been out of college, travels with him all over the country. “I love being on the road. I love performing with folks. And having my Hazel with me makes it even better.” He expressed concern over the state of our schools and our nation, that racism and cruelty need to be exposed; but he’s also still proud that, “for everything that is wrong, there are ten things that are right. People still want to come here for the American Dream.” He’s proud that he has employed 35 people over 40 years on the road and encourages young people to take a chance; go for that dream. That’s what he did - he started with a song in his heart and has brought his message of love and respect for one another to generations. His music encompasses all genres including some beautiful gospel albums such as The Door and Steel Witness.
    During the recording of Fire on the Mountain in 1974, Daniels decided to record two songs live in concert and chose an auditorium in Nashville. In a nod to the Volunteer State, the CDB called the concert Vounteeer Jam and invited firends from the Marshall Tucker Band and Dickey Betts (Allman Brothers), among others to join them. “We had such a good time, we decided we should do this once in a while,” Charlie recalls. So, “once in a while” became almost every year. Before its first run ended in 1986, the jams were broadcast nationally and internationally (Voice of America). Guests ranged the world of music including Willie Nelson, Ted Nugent, Roy Acuff, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Crystal Gayle, James Brown, Emmylou Harris, Amy Grant, George Thorogood, Kris Kristofferson, Little Richard, Tammy Wynette, Boxcar Willie, Alabama, Oak Ridge Boys, and a reunion of the Allman Bros. (1986).
    This amazing man who says he “enjoys life, loves music, loves creating music with his friends onstage and enjoys traveling” will turn 76 years old this Oct. 28. I, for one, can’t wait to see and hear him again as he and his band play on the Ocean Stage at the Inlet for OC Bike Fest, Saturday at 5 p.m.
GRAND FUNK RAILROAD
    I had the pleasure of speaking with Don Brewer, founding member and drummer for Grand Funk Railroad, last week and our conversation brought back many great memories. (The group I was in, Noah, played “We’re An American Band,” “I Just Want To Celebrate”  and “Some Kind of Wonderful”  in ‘72-’73 in Norfolk/Va. Beach; and that’s when I met my husband, too.)
    Originating from Flint, Michigan in 1969, this rop-selling rock group fo the ‘70s marks a 42-year milestone with their 2012 tour and their bringing their American Band to the OC Bike Fest Ocean stage on Fri., Sept. 14 at 5 p.m. With that kind of longevity and with songs that are still covered by many bands, I had to ask how it feels to still be playing those hits.
    “I never expected it to last,” Brewer told me. “We’re playing 30 or 40 shows a year and as I look out over our audiences, I see three generations singing along.”
    After more than 40 years, how do you keep it fresh, I asked him.
    “First, we love what we do. It’s a high energy rock show. We know people come to hear the hits and we love to get the audience involved - standing and cheering. That what keeps every show exciting for us. It’s an honor really.”
    And he says they prevent burn-out by only doing 30-40 shows a year. “Of course, that’s just with Grand Funk. I play with Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band, too, but that works out well since Bob likes to travel in the winter and our dates are mostly summer.” In between Brewer enjoys being semi-retired so he can be home a lot to help raise his rwo-year old daughter.
    On the tour trail with Brewer is co-founder bassist Mel Schacher, “The God of Thunder.” Joining Don and Mel are true “All Stars.” Singer Max Carl is a rock veteran from 38 Special. Max penned and sang 38’s biggest hit “Second Chance” and was co-founder of California’s legendary Jack Mack and the Heart Attack. Don refers to Max as “the best blue-eyed soul singer on the planet.” Lead guitarist Bruce Kulick is best known for his 12 years with KISS and also has credits with Michael Bolton, Meatloaf and Billy Squier. Keyboardist Tim Cashion has a master’s degree in music from the Univ. of Miami. Affectionately called “Dr. Tim,” his credits include stints with Bog Seger and the Silver Bullet Band and English soul man Robert Palmer.
    To quote the official press release: Grand Funk laid the groundwork for such bands as Foreigner, Journey, Van Halen and Bon Jovi with its signature hard driving sound, soulful vocals, muscular instrumentation and forceful pop melodies. Internationally acclaimed Grand Funk has toured the world, selling out in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Japan and South America. Over their career, Grand Funk has had 19 charted singles, 8 Top 40 hits and two Number One singles (“We’re An American Band” and “Locomotion,” both selling more than one million each). The group has now accumulated 13 gold and 10 platinum records with record sales in excess of 25 million copies sold worldwide. The most recent gold CD award was presented to the band May 10, 2002 for their greatest hits package Grand Funk Railroad The Collectors Series.
    The multi-talented band carries on the tradition of Grand Funk Railroad creating a new chapter with sell-out dates around the country and we get to hear them right on our beach, Friday at 5pm. Don’t miss it!
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