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On July 25th I had another chance to catch the CDB, and it was as usual, awesome. The show was in Vallejo, California at the Salano County Fair. The fair's theme was Racing to the Future, which although was probably appropriate since there is a horse racing track there on the grounds, seemed like it was promoting gambling in a way. I suppose it was better than, "Gambling Our Future."

The CDB show started at 6:00 on this Sunday, so we had to split that afternoon to get there, since it's a two hour drive from my house. No problem, but this was the first trip to a CDB show with my little daughter, so we weren't sure how it would go. As it turned out, the whole thing was perfect, even though it started out a little rough.

Ginger Ambrose, the President of the CDB Volunteers (the fan club) again sent us backstage meet and greet passes. This is always a thrill, and makes the shows even more memorable than they would be otherwise. I've said it before, but if you know you're going to a show, you have to spend the extra $20 and join the club, because those meet and greet passes make going so worthwhile!

We were about an hour an a half away from home when I realized that I had left those passes on the kitchen table. That is a move that will make you realize that you are getting old. At least I remembered the camera. My wife suggested we could ask if there is a list or something and maybe still pull it off, but I am a pessimist. This is why we make a good couple.

We got to the fairgrounds and right off the bat the first of several miracles happened. Front row parking. I usually have to ride a tractor five miles to the gates, so I should have taken this as a good sign, but I figured we were using up all of our good luck. We definitely weren't getting backstage, since we got front row parking.

This is the picture autographed by Charlie we got at the show. Join the fan club, and you can have one, too.

Next miracle, as we walked up to pay for tickets, a lady asked us if we were going to the fair, then explained she had an extra one and gave it to us. That meant we only had to pay $8.00 for this show. Sweet. But again, with my pessimism, I figured the show would now be cancelled or they would turn us away at the gate.

One of the fun things, for me, anyway, about going to the fair is the people watching. One particularly happy fellow of note was wearing a gothic t-shirt that said "ALL WILL PERISH." He had earrings and sideburns that would make the drummer from the Kentucky Headhunters jealous. They looked like shag carpet glued to his face. He didn't look like an unpleasant character, but his arms were covered to the wrist in tattoos of people screaming with their eyes on fire. It was nice to see him enjoying a day at the county fair, holding hands with his young girlfriend, and sharing cotton candy. See? Everybody likes to have a pleasant day. Just remember, I think he was admonishing, you're all going to die.

I thought I might as well ask about getting backstage, and seeing if there was a list, so I approached a security guard who directed me to his boss. This guy's name was Joey, and he said he had no control over who went backstage but he told us where the people with those meet and greet passes were staged. We fooled around and got some fair food, then when they opened the gates headed over there. There were a few people waiting and they said that there was no way we were getting to go back there without our passes. I thought they might be right but I figured it was worth a shot to ask anyway.

Finally, a dude who worked for the fair named Rich came around and I talked to him. I told him our deal, and asked if there was any way in the world we could get back there. I name dropped a little. Know your territory, my friends. I said that maybe Dean Tubbs would have a list. Now, the chances of Dean actually having a list were about zilch, in reality, but I was holding a baby, my wife was there, and she has an honest face. "Who is Dean Tubbs?" Rich asked. I said he works for Charlie. He told me to hang on a minute, then talked to some other customers. Miracle number three: He came back about two minutes later and said, "I'll take care of you." Then he split.

This was working out pretty well. My wife and I just looked at each other, astonished. To use a California term, we were stoked. Me, out of my gourd. Whatever that means. Rich came back and handed over a couple of passes that said Guest on them, and we waited for things to get going.

It was well over 90 that day, so we were cooking. Luckily, I had invested a mere $4.50 on a jug of Dr. Pepper that was roughly five quarts.

They finally herded us past the fence to the backstage area where they told us to line up. Finally a woman came around and offered us some shade by moving the line next to the dressing room trailers.

This is the fence that kept the riff raff, like me, from the performers. You can see the top of the dressing room trailer behind the fence.

After about fifteen minutes they lined us up outside Charlie's trailer and let us file in one at a time. Dean Tubbs was there, in a tie, handing out pictures for Charlie to sign inside. While we were waiting, a young Charlie fan, about 8 years old, was playing Dixie on a fiddle. There was a food tent set up for the band and we saw all of them head in there one at a time to get some grub. That's the pavilion tents you see in the picture above. There wasn't a chance to talk to the band, which would have been cool.

We went into the dressing room and thankfully it was air conditioned. Charlie was seated at a table on one end and people would come up and meet him, get their picture taken and his autograph, then boogie out the same door they came in.

We approached Charlie and he asked who to make the pictures out to, and I handed my camera to the photographer. It's a PHD camera -- Push Here Dummy -- so I didn't think I needed to explain it to him. Charlie said something like, "It always happens that you professional photographers can use those big, expensive cameras, but when you put a regular little camera in your hands, you get confused." He was laughing as he said, it but the photographer did look bewildered.

We shuffled out the door and then headed out to get our seats.

 

Here's the money shot! This is the good shot by the photographer with the fancy camera. Our cheap camera picture came out blurry.

Once the show started we plugged Abby's ears with these orange foam plugs. She grabbed at them and pulled them out as quick as she could. They kind of made her resemble Shrek. I gotta show her off.

The show started right around six and the first song the band played was Drinking My Baby Goodbye.

I had the presence of mind to get a pen out and jot down the set list.

Next song, was The Legend Of Wooley Swamp.

Charlie mentioned that he used to hunt Wooley Swamp when he was a kid but the rest of the song was basically a bunch of lies. I think that's how he put it. Call it a story or what, but it's a great song.

This is the view we had of the show. I'm not sure how many people were there, but the field in front of the stage was full of folding chairs and there were grandstands behind us that were packed, because it was the only place with shade.

Here's the entire set list:

  • Drinking My Baby Goodbye
  • The Legend Of Wooley Swamp
  • Billy The Kid
  • The Pledge of Allegiance / In America
  • Shake Rag (Taz)
  • The Intimidator
  • Take Me Back to '69 (Bruce Brown)
  • Saddle Tramp
  • Simple Man
  • Long Haired Country Boy
  • How Great Thou Art
  • Twin Pickin' / Rocky Top (Sparky)
  • The South's Gonna Do It Again
  • Orange Blossom Special
  • The Devil Went Down to Georgia (encore)
Here's what digital zoom on a PHD camera will get you for a close up. Sparky is on the left, then Charlie Daniels, Bruce Brown, Charlie Hayward, and finally hidden behind the drum set in his green shiny shirt, is Pat Macdonald.

The show was great, with a bunch of CDB standards mixed in with some new material. The Intimidator is a new song about NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr, number 8. Saddle Tramp was an outstanding number, as usual, because it lasts at least ten minutes, and is a showcase of guitar work. The song by Taz is on his Midnight in Savannah CD, and Bruce's song reminisced about the good old days, way back in 1869. No, 1969.

How Great Thou Art is one of my favorite hymns, and Charlie performed it with style and class. Sadly some woman behind us was making cracks about the fact that he was playing it but everyone else was respectful and responded with enthusiasm. She probably had to park five miles from the gate and had to walk in the dusty parking lot.

Sparky is relatively new to the band, even though he's been there probably three years now, and I'm always amazed at this dude's skill on the chicken pickin' songs. He's incredible.

The Orange Blossom Special is another song that the CDB has made a hallmark of their repertoire, and every member of the band gets the chance to shine and show off with it.

The encore was The Devil Went Down To Georgia, the band's signature tune. I've heard or read Charlie say that he's only a mediocre fiddle player, but when you see him play these last two songs, you know he's being meek. There is nothing mediocre about it.

The next show in California that I hope to catch is the Grand Nationals Rodeo at the Cow Palace. Charlie kicks off this 60th anniversary of the last big rodeo of the year of the pros, and with that kick start, it will be one of their finest.

 

Updated 8/1/2004 by Matt Smith