Alabama, Charlie Daniels Band to play show at Bryce Jordan Center

UNIVERSITY PARK — It was only nine months ago that area country music lovers were given the chance to see Hall of Famer Charlie Daniels play live at the Community Arts Center. Soon, fans will get a second opportunity to see Daniels display his masterful skills on the fiddle — but this time, he will be joining some old friends that also happen to be legends in the genre.

The Charlie Daniels Band is slated to be the opening act for Alabama on the group’s 50th Anniversary Tour. Together, the two bands will put on a show at 7 p.m. April 27 at Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center, which local country buffs wont soon forget.

“It is great (being on this tour). I tell you what, I go way back with Alabama,” Daniels said. “We started touring with Alabama back in the ’80s. We have done a lot of touring, and we are good friends. I have stayed at their houses, and they have stayed at mine — it is that kind of thing, ya know?

“When we are backstage, it is kind of like seeing everybody for the first time at a reunion,” he added.

The band Alabama — comprised of Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry and Jeff Cook — first came together in 1969. In the years since, the group has become arguably the most successful act in the history of country music, selling nearly 80 million albums and putting 75 songs on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, including 33 No. 1 hits. Some of the group’s most popular tunes include “Mountain Music,” “Dixieland Delight,” “Roll On” and “Song of the South.”

Daniels has kept pretty busy himself through the years, producing over 30 studio albums and touring regularly for decades. After getting his start in the mid-1960s as a session artist, his career really took off in the ’70s with hits like “The South’s Gonna Do It Again,” “Long Haired Country Boy” and “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” — the song for which he is most well-known.

“The great thing about this show is that both bands’ music fits well together, and the people who come enjoy both bands, instead of just one,” Daniels said. “It is kind of like an unbroken show, really.

“It is a good night of music and it is very enjoyable for us,” he added.

Daniels said that, through the decades, Pennsylvania has been one of the states that his band has seen the most success in. In fact, he said that Pittsburgh was one of the first markets in which his music really took off.

“Pennsylvania crowds have been good to us,” Daniels said. “For some reason, we would have hotspots around the country. There were just a few spots around the country that caught on early, actually before Atlanta and Dallas did.

“We are old fans of Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvania has old fans of ours,” he added.

Growing up in North Carolina in the years before television, Daniels said that before he got he chance to visit the state, he thought PA only consisted of big cities. Once he finally made the trip north to see it for himself, he started to consider it as one of the best-kept secrets in the United States.

“All you would see was Pittsburgh and Philadelphia — just the big towns,” he said. “You get to thinking the whole state is like that, but then when you get to Pennsylvania it is some of the prettiest country.

“People don’t really get to see all of it and think about it like that, but it is,” added Daniels. “There is so much more to Pennsylvania than a lot of people realize.”

With nearly a combined 100 years of touring between his band and Alabama, Daniels said it is a passion and love for music that drives both groups to keep going out on the road.

“If I was doing something that was physically strenuous, I would not be able to do it at this age,” said Daniels, who is now 82 years old. “But a guitar is not that heavy and a fiddle is not that heavy, and I can stand in front of a microphone for an hour-and-a-half and put my energy into entertaining people — that is what I love.

“I can’t think of any better way to spend my life that I would enjoy as much as I do that,” he added. “So, I just keep doing it.”

When he toured with the group in past years, Daniels said he would typically get on stage with Alabama for a song or two at each show. But lately, he hasn’t had the opportunity to jam with the band too much, so he doesn’t expect to play any songs with them at the Bryce Jordan Center — though, he didn’t rule it out completely.

“We usually go do our set and then they do their set,” he said. “But you know, you never can tell exactly when we might end up on the stage together.”

With both groups now playing for three generations when they hit the stage, as their original fans now bring their children and grandchildren to shows, Daniels hopes that those who turn out to the BJC to see his band and Alabama perform leave with an experience that keeps them wanting more.

“I want fans to walk away feeling like they had a fantastic time, and that they loved every minute of it,” Daniels said. “I hope they enjoy both bands, and the next time either band comes back to town, I hope they go see them. That is the ultimate (goal) for a musician, for fans to come back out again.”

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