October 7, 2014 Charlie Daniels Band feel good performance NYCB Theatre at Westbury, NY 9-13-14 w/ Molly Hatchet & New Riders
Charlie Daniels has been a leader in Southern/Country Rock for over forty years now. As a revered singer/songwriter Daniels is most predominately known for his dazzling guitar and fiddle playing which has been displayed through live performances. Now a mere month away from his 78th birthday Daniels is partaking in one of his largest touring cycles in years. Dubbed the “Off the Grid Tour” in support of his first studio album in seven years, Off the Grid – Doin’ It Dylan, Daniels began back in March and will wrap this 100 plus dates a week before Christmas. With new material in his back pocket Daniels and his band made their way back to the familiar surroundings of NYCB Theatre at Westbury, NY on Saturday September 13th along with New Riders of the Purple Sage and Molly Hatchet for an evening of string bending Southern Rock.
Up first was Northern California’s New Riders of the Purple Sage. Releasing their self-titled debut back in 1971 the band has stood strong through the years releasing albums in each of the last four decades. Retired from music for nearly eight years, the band reunited in 2005 shortly after the passing of former drummer Spencer Dryden (also of Jefferson Airplane). Now configured with David Nelson (guitar, vocals), Buddy Cage (pedal steel guitar), Michael Falzarano (guitar, vocals), Ronnie Penque (bass guitar), and Johnny Markowski (drums), they continue their musical journey into the new millennium. Taking the stage ready to go, the band treated the audience to a nice mix of their older and newer tunes. Playing tracks from their classic self-titled debut album along with pieces from 2012’s 17 Pine Avenue, everyone was rocking and rolling to the twanging guitars. Closing out their time on stage with their hit “Panama Red” New Riders of the Purple Stage return to NYCB Theatre at Westbury for the first time in a few years was a welcomed one.
Following next was the classic Southern Rockers from Florida, Molly Hatchet. Also rising to popularity during their early years after forming in 1975, Molly Hatchet still is going strong all these years later. Kept alive by founding guitarist Dave Hlubek along with longtime members keyboardist John Galvin and guitarist Bobby Ingram, the band has added new pieces to the ensemble over the years including vocalist Phil McCormack, bassist Tim Lindsey, and drummer Shawn Beamer. Pumping up the audience right from the start their enthusiastic approach on stage had everyone hollering through favorites like “Whiskey Man” and “Bounty Hunter.” With the thick heavy guitars of Hlubek and Ingram each song was full of life and made everyone want to stand up and dance. Vocalist McCormack’s deep powerful delivery ripped through other hits like “Edge of Sundown,””Beatin’ The Odds,” along with Allman Brother’s cover “Dreams I’ll Never See.” Proving their music transcends generations their heavy rock edge mixed with soulful Country styling was perfectly executed. That all came to a dramatic ending with an amazing rendition of their most famous song “Flirtin’ With Disaster.” Molly Hatchet is a rock-n-roll band through and through which needs to be seen at least once by anyone who can not resist melodic grooving music.
With two great opening acts lighting up NYCB Theatre at Westbury everyone was ready to go for the Charlie Daniels Band. Packed with dedicated followers, this was a family event with mothers , fathers and children who have made efforts to see Daniels each time he comes to town over the years. Having everyone on their feet cheering, a high-spirited Daniels and band took the stage kicking off with “Southern Boy.” Ripping and roaring, the opening song set a mood of feel good vibes and joyous music that followed with “Drinking,” Bob Dylan song “Tangled Up In Blue,” and “The Legend of Wooley Swamp.” Showing off his excellent instrumental skills both on the fiddle and guitar Daniels showed no signs of slowing down or losing even an inch of his ability over the years.
Daniels continued on vibrantly which enticed the room to let loose and have a good time going into songs like “El Toreador” where his incredible storytelling captured everyone. That followed with the proud “(What This World Needs Is) A Few More Rednecks.” While some may consider the term to be derogatory and insulting Daniels has conveyed over the years his definition of a Redneck as someone who spends their day working hard in the sun. This positive and refreshing attitude combined with American pride certainly shines through each song that followed including “In America.” Already proving themselves to be wonderful musicians, the song “Black Ice” was a blissful mix of Shannon Wickline keys, Charlie Hayward bass, Pat McDonald drums with Bruce Brown and Chris Wormer guitars. Unquestionably these guys are world-class performers who mix with Daniels perfectly.
As the set moved on Daniels performed another track off his latest Dylan tribute album by the name of “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” before going into the great “Long Haired Country Boy.” Showing all facets of his ability ranging from loud and proud to soft and sensitive one of the most beautiful moments came when Daniels sat on a stool performing “How Great Thou Art” on acoustic guitar. The cool string work matched by the warm organs had everyone whistling in appreciation. This would have been the perfect closing for the evening but there was still time for some more fun and that came with Daniels breaking out the fiddle once more for “The South’s Gonna Do It Again” and legendary “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” The final showdown was as colorful and intense as ever igniting everyone’s pulse rate up a few notches.
As usual Charlie Daniels Band was entertaining, energetic, and a blast to watch. For those who understand the passion and soul behind the music, they will never grow tired of seeing Daniels perform live. With that said, Daniels live is an inspirational experience reminding everyone the joy of life and music. With still two months left of touring before the end of 2014 there is plenty of time for fans to get tickets.Photo credit: Joe Parisi