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Charlie Daniels goes down to Gypsum

Sarah Mausolf
smausolf@vaildaily.com
Gypsum, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail Daily
ALL |

GYPUSM, Colorado –Charlie Daniels has played his ’70s hit “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” so many times, it has gone through a sort of evolution.

Anyone who has ever sputtered over the breakneck lyrics on karaoke night knows that song is fast, but the tempo has sped up even more over years of live performances, Daniels said.

During the frenzied fiddle parts, he even breaks the hairs on his bow.



Fans will have a chance to see Daniels perform Saturday, July 18, at the Gypsum Daze country music concert in Gypsum. Event organizers expect his band to have a crossover appeal.

“We’re excited to bring them in because we think it’s going to bring such a diverse crowd to Gypsum Daze,” event organizer Dawn Ritts said. “The Charlie Daniels Band is known outside the country genre. It crosses into Southern Rock and other genres.”



Such is the case with “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” which enjoyed heavy rotation on rock radio stations and appears on Guitar Hero III in the form of a Primus cover.

Daniels said he has no qualms with the heavy metal version of the song, but he opposes the “dark, satanic” graphics that accompany it on the video game.

For fans who have always wondered what exactly Daniels means by the lyrics, he clears it up:



“I’m a Christian and I would never let the devil win,” he said. “I’ve never really thought of it as being some kind of real profound theological song or something. A guy gets into a battle with the devil and the devil loses and he will always lose in my songs.”

An active singer since the early 1950s, Daniels, 72, was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry last year, which he describes as a “great honor.”

“I have been a Grand Ole Opry fan for all of my life,” he said.

During Gypsum Daze, Daniels said he plans to sing well-known hits like “The Legend of Wooley Swamp,” “The South’s Gonna Do It” and, of course, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” – “The ones people have a perfect right to expect us to do,” he said. Plus, Daniels said fans can anticipate some surprises.

In a phone interview from a tour bus stopped in California, Daniels said touring wasn’t always his dream.

His dad was in the timber business, and growing up the family moved around throughout South Carolina and Georgia, he said. That meant going to as many as three different schools in a year’s time for Daniels.

“I used to tell my mother when I was a kid ‘I am not going to be a traveling man. I will not do it,’ because my dad traveled so much and I didn’t like changing schools and all that sort of thing but I really have traveled a whole lot more than he ever did.”

As it turns out, life on the road suits Daniels.

“Of course I enjoy what I do for a living,” he said. “That’s the main thing. I enjoy being part of the music business. If you’re going to do that, you have to travel.”

Daniels said living in many different cities broadened his outlook on life, though his home town of Wilmington, N.C. adds a Southern twang to his music.

“I think your environment definitely affects everything you do in you life,” he said. “My environment was small towns and rural areas in the Southeast. Of course you grow up speaking with that vernacular, speaking with that accent, reflecting the social situation going on when you came along.”

Musical politics

Speaking of social situations, Daniels has a tendency to dive into politics.

He recently performed for troops in Iraq, where he noticed a marked difference in mood from his last two trips to that war zone.

“This was actually our third visit,” he said. “I can tell quite bit of difference between the other times that we’ve gone and this time. Things have calmed down a lot. It’s still dangerous. There’s no doubt about that.

“The point being, the troops over there have done an incredible job. They’ve really made a lot of headway. It’s still bad but it’s not near as bad as it was.”

Daniels also writes a blog called The Charlie Daniels Soapbox, where he vents about political issues. His latest beef? President Barack Obama’s health care reform plan.

“Well it has been proven not to work,” he said. “It’s the same program basically they’ve got in Canada and England, because people wait. It’s prioritized by a bureaucrats. It’s looked at not from a medical point of view but a bureaucratic point of view. They decide who gets what when, there’s too much room for corruption.”

Aside from dabbling in national affairs, Daniels has been recording a Christmas bluegrass album with a roster of famous country stars including Jewel.

During the show in Gypsum, Daniels plans to perform with the five other members of his band.

Daniels said he plays four different guitars and a fiddle over the course of the show.

His goal for Gypsum Daze is simple enough: to “entertain the people who are there.”

He’s been to Gypsum before and looks forward to stopping in town.

“In fact I winter out your way,” he said. “I have a place in Durango. We’re quite familiar with your beautiful part of the world.”

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Gypsum Daze schedule

Gun Club Shoot

When: Saturday

Where: Gypsum Shooting Sports Park, one mile west of the Gypsum, Interstate 70 exit on north frontage road.

Time: 12:30 p.m.

Details: Competition will be divided in classes based on age and shooting ability. Many prizes will be awards and a free cook-out will be served. Advanced registration is not required.

Jalepeno Eating contest

What: The hottest event at Gypsum Daze

When: Saturday

Time: 1:30 p.m.

Where: Town Hall Park

Details: Bring lots of water (no alcohol). Men, women, and children’s divisions. No pre-registration required, but contestants should meet at the main food tent at 1 p.m. Cash prizes awarded to the winners. Peppers must be eaten one at a time, within a time limit. Children’s division features milder peppers

Family Fish’ in Fun

When: Today

Time: 4:30 p.m.

Where: Gypsum Ponds

Details: Free. Bring your license and fishing gear will be provided. The ponds will be stocked. Pared will be provided at Gun Club Road northwest of the Gypsum Interstate 70 interchange with a free ECO Bus shuttle. No parking will be allowed at the Gypsum Ponds.

Firemen’s Pancake Breakfast

When: Saturday

Time: 7 to 11 a.m.

Where: Town Hall Park

Details: Hosted by the Gypsum Fire Department, this is an all-you-can-eat feast of pancakes, sausage, coffee and juice. Kids and seniors $3; adults $5. All proceeds from the breakfast go to the Gypsum Fire Department Scholarship Fund.

5K RUN/WALK

What: This year’s event is held in memory of Gypsum resident Terry Thompson

When: Saturday

Time: 8 a.m. sharp shotgun start

Where: Race starts at Town Hall Park.

Details: The Gypsum Daze race winds thorough the heart of town with prizes awarded to winners by age group in addition to many door prizes for participants. Race forms are available at Town Hall and online at http://www.townofgypsum.com. Cost is $10 for pre-registered racers and $15 on race day and all proceeds go to “Small Champions.”

Horseshoe Tournament

When: Saturday

Time: Immediately following the Gypsum Daze Parade.

Where: Second Street Park

Details: Cash prizes and trophies for the winners. Entry fee is $20 per team. Register by contacting Mark Silverthorne at 524-1574.

Parade

What: Parade theme is “The Games We Play”

When: Saturday

Time: 11 a.m.

Where: Starts at Eagle Valley High School and ends at Vicksburg Lane.

Details: Prime viewing along Valley Road.

Bad Mountain Boys Car Show

When: Saturday

Time: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: Town Hall Park

Details: Antiques and hot rods will be on display. Awards will be presented for the top three vehicles in each class as voted on by participants. For more information contact Gary Nestor at 524-9657.

Basketball tournament

What: Three-on-three basketball competition

When: Today through Saturday

Time: Play begins at 12:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Gypsum Sports Complex on Cooley Mesa Road

Details: Cash prizes and T-shirts for the winners. Four players allowed per team. No entry fee required. To register contact the Gypsum Rec Center at 777-8888.

Youth Talent Show

What: Competition for kids ages 5 to 18 years

When: Today

Time: 7 p.m.

Where: Lundgren Theater

Details: Cash prizes awarded to the winners and performances are limited to four minutes. Registration forms are available at http://www.townofgypsum.com under the Gypsum Daze tab. Registration forms are due by Thursday, July 16. Contestants should check in at 6 p.m. behind the Lundgren Theater stage.

Dog Show

What: Fun competition for pet owners

When: Saturday

Time: 2 p.m.

Where: Town Hall Park

Details: Cash prizes will be awarded for the ugliest dog in Gypsum, the best doggie trick in Eagle County and the bet owner/dog lookalikes. register in advance at the Gypsum Animal Hospital. For information call 524-3647

Free Kids’ Zone

What: Free activities for kids

When: Saturday

Time: Noon to 4 p.m.

Where: Town Hall Park

Details: Parents must supervise children at all times. Activities will include inflatable bouncers, an obstacle course, carnival games with prizes, a bungee trampoline, mechanical bull, stilt walkers, giant puppets, a bubble tower, balloon artists and more.

Movie

What: Screening of “The Ant Bully,” a PG rated film, on the big screen at the Lundgren Theater

When: Today

Time: Dusk

Where: Lundgren Theater

Details: Bring a picnic, chairs, a blanket and the whole family to watch the movie from the lawn at Town Hall Park.


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