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Road Trip to The Angelus, 2004

Roadtrip - Charlie Palooza 2004

by Michael Buffalo Smith

My fourth trip to the Annual Charlie Daniels Country Concert and Golf Classic to benefit The Angelus House was the best ever - A road trip under sunny skies, quite a drive from Upstate South Carolina all the way down to Tampa, Florida with my friend Scott Green in tow.

Every year it seems we have had a different host hotel and they have all been fun - but this year was the topper. The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino was the very top of the A-list. Excellent rooms, with a bed you just didn’t want to climb out of, stereo, all the usual amenities - and a framed portrait of Janis Joplin in the wash room.

It seems like the events were more etched in stone this year than in years past. There was something to do at all hours. Live music was everywhere. There was music in the lobby bar, as well as in the ballroom and in the other bars.

Ghost Riders hosted a jam one night that brought out Tommy Crain and many others. Later, the Trunk Band would amaze the audience with their dead on covers of tunes by The Allman Brothers Band and al sorts of cool stuff like a funky Bill Withers cover, “Use Me.” Tommy Crain (the king of southern jams) joined in, as did Mark Emmerick of The Commander Cody Band and yours truly. Doug Gray of Marshall Tucker stepped up to the plate for a red hot “This ol’ Cowboy.”

Friday night rocked. Old Union, a relatively new jam band out of Nashville, won over everyone in attendance with their electric set, and then out came Southern Soul sister #1, Bonnie Bramlett, and her daughter Bekka Bramlett. The ladies proceeded to burn down the house, rocking through Delaney and Bonnie favorites, Bonnie solo favorites and more. Their cover of Eddie Hinton’s “Cover Me” was especially moving.
Tommy Crain joined Old Union to provide a red hot base for the two singers. “Who Will Wear The Crown” and “Come Into My Kitchen” helped seal the deal, and it was obvious that the lucky attendees had been rocked.

Prior to Old Union and Bonnie, The Charlie Daniels Band had treated the crowd to a mini-set, and somewhere around midnight, members of The Marshall Tucker Band took the stage for a jam that included Chris Hicks, Stuart Swanlund, Dave Muse, and Pat Elwood of the MTB, along with Mark Emmerick, Michael Buffalo Smith, and Heidi from Trick Pony. Tunes ran the gamut from free from jazz to blues and the obligatory “Can’t You See.” Mucho magic.

Saturday brought the all day outdoor concert, with Ghost Riders rocking the amphitheater, as well as the excellent band Carolina Rain, Bonnie, Bekka and Old Union, Little Texas (always a crowd favorite), and back to back sets from The Marshall Tucker Band (who once again filled the stage with everyone from Hulk Hogan and daughter Brooke to Hays Clark and Carolyn Corlew for a roof-raising “Can’t You See”  and Molly Hatchet, who delivered up a rocking set of Classic Hatchet and a very good new tune called “Son of the South.”

Country stars reigned supreme, from the very excellent - Lee Ann Womack to crowd favorite Tracy Lawrence.

Of course, the evening belonged to the host with the most, Charlie Daniels and his band, who were joined by long-time bandmate Tommy Crain for a magical set that included the timeless “The Devil Went Down To Georgia,” “The Legend of Wooly Swamp” and “Sweet Home Alabama” which filled the stage with back  up singers like Doug Gray, Bekka Bramlett, Michael Buffalo Smith, Mike Moran and guitarists Bobby Ingram, Mark Emmerick, Jimmy Dormire, and Chris Hicks and more.

Doug Gray kicked off “Will The Circle Be Unbroken,” and Charlie lead off a stellar jam that lead into “The South’s Gonna Do It Again”  and a humble “Amazing Grace.”

Back at the Hard Rock, we were treated to a sponsor party, and as I made my way back to the room the music was still rocking and The Ghost Riders were just kicking into high gear. ALl I could think about was that comfortable bed, catching some z’s and the 11 hour ride back to Carolina on Sunday. Four Angelus events and I still haven’t seen a golf ball. But that’s okay, I sure heard some mighty fine music.

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