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Cheryl M. Stewart
Charlie Daniels

For 50 years, Charlie Daniels has been entertaining music fans all around the world. At 71, the man who fiddled to beat the devil has no intention of slowing down.

"I love what I do," Daniels said during a phone call from his office in Tennessee a couple of weeks ago. "The payoff, of course, is gettin' up on stage and making people smile with music we have created and re-created. But I also love getting on the bus, which I will do tomorrow. I also like doing interviews. You can say that my job makes it a joy to wake up every morning and get out of bed."

While Daniels has devoted his life to making people happy, this past January he was repaid for his efforts — he was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry.

"It was a big deal to me," he said. "It was a big deal because I have listened to the radio program all my life. And I never thought it would happen to me, especially at 71."

Throughout his illustrious career, Daniels has produced an array of top 10 and top 40 hits, as well as platinum and multi-platinum albums. But, until now, he had never recorded a duets album.

"I think everyone on this good Earth has done a duet album before me," he said with a laugh. "My manager said to me, 'You should think about doing a duets album.' And I thought it was a good idea."

The Charlie Daniels Band — Daniels, keyboardist Taz DiGrecorio, bassist Charlie Hayward, drummer Pat McDonald and guitarists Bruce Brown and Chris Wormer — released "Deuces" back in October. The 13-track CD features the songs "Jackson" with Gretchen Wilson, "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" with Bonnie Bramlett, "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" with Vince Gill and "What'd I Say" with Travis Tritt, to name a few.

"We had a lot of songs to choose from," Daniels said. "The trick was to find the right people to sing those songs.

"We put out a call and got tremendous feedback. Then we started matching songs with singers. Sometimes it was easy. Travis likes Ray Charles so 'What'd I Say' was a no-brainer. I knew Gretchen knew 'Jackson' and Vince, even though he's younger than me, was raised listening to the same generational music. So he was another no-brainer for 'The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down."'

There were a few times when things didn't work out, said Daniels. "So we went back to the drawing board."

One of the songs on "Deuces" is Daniels' revamp of his "Long-Haired Country Boy" with Brooks & Dunn.

"I'm not as rebellious as I once was," said Daniels with a laugh when he was asked if he was still the song's protagonist. "But I still have my attitudes about life. I try to change the things I can change. The things I can't change gives me a choice to cry about it or to let it pass. I've learned that you can't solve everything. But you can always make people happy."

Daniels' Volunteer Jam, now in its 34th year of making people happy, will feature Shooter Jennings and .30 Special.

"We always try to find three bands or artists that are compatible," said Daniels. "There's no reason for us to find a heavy metal band and a hip-hop band. ... There needs to be some consistency. Having .38 Special and Shooter on the tour was an obvious choice."

If you go

What: Volunteer Jam with Charlie Daniels Band, Shooter Jennings, .38 Special

Where: USANA Amphitheatre, 5400 S. 6200 West

When: Today, 7:30 p.m.

How much: $21-$41

Phone: 467-8499, 800-888-8499

Web: smithstix.com


E-mail: scott@desnews.com