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Road Trip to The Annual Angelus Benefit

by Michael Buffalo Smith & Scott Greene
Feb. 2, 2006

Buffalo: I look forward to this every year. The annual pilgrimage from Upstate SC down to Tampa, Florida for Charlie Daniels’ three day golf and country rock concert to benefit The Angelus House, a home for the physically challenged. The event is a lot of fun and after doing it for five years it has become a big part of my life. This was the second time I drug Scott along for the event, and I have asked him to add his comments to the review as well.

SG: Drug me? Shoot man after last year you would have had to hog tie me to keep me out of the truck!

Buffalo: One of the first things I want to say is a big ol’ Southern “Thank You” to Gar and Tammy Williams for putting the event together. Without them, there would be no event. Also thank you as always to out host, the great Charlie Daniels, a man with a heart as big and wide as the great state of Tennessee.

SG: Yes, thank you Gar and Tammy - not only for hosting this event but for all you do for the folks at the Angelus house.

Buffalo: Our ten-hour drive was divided into two parts. We had to wait until Scott got off work on Wednesday at 5 pm, load up and roll. We stopped at the Days Inn just this side of the Florida line and spent the night, hopped back in the vehicle Thursday morning, and made it to the hotel by 1:30 pm. Once again the event was hosted by the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa, an amazing hotel with an equally amazing staff. All good folks.This place is awesome, with rock memorabilia on display all around, like Duane Allman’s guitar, Dave Hlubek’s “Rebel flag” guitar, hand written lyrics from John Lennon, stage costumes, and more.

SG: Its a great drive with good music and great company and knowing the special magic that happens at this event only makes the ride there all the shorter. The Hard Rock Hotel is for me an experience unto itself. I seem to find something different and special each time I go. I can spend hours just walking by the displays of classic rock and roll memorabilia that are there and never see the same piece twice.

Buffalo: I was on schedule to perform that afternoon in the bar, so we checked in, took everything up to the tenth floor room and I got ready for the show, putting on the ol’ Buffalo hat and swag. Downstairs, young Aaron Kelly was already entertaining, singing to a prerecorded soundtrack. The kid really has the pipes, I tell ya.

SG: That young man has a stage presence and the pipes to back it up.
Buffalo: Next up was Hays Clark, accompanied by her friend Billy from Columbus, NC. Hays did some acoustic originals and covers, and then it was my turn. I played a few, and was joined on my closer, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” by Hays and Chris Hicks of Marshall Tucker.

SG: Hays and Billy had a tough row to hoe following such a special young man, but they handled the task and kept the crowd right in a groove. Michael brought his own special magic to the small stage in the bar. The closer (“Will The Circle Be Unbroken”) with Chris and Hays singing back up was a powerful way to end a great set of music and left the crowd wanting for more.

Buffalo: Next stop, the hospitality room! Adult beverage anyone? We started running into the usual suspects, so many good friends we see at the Angelus every year- Tom and Anne Bell, Mary Wilson, Tommy Crain, Rick Broyles, and Doug and Rene Gray were among the first. We met up with good friend Mark Emerick of The Commander Cody Band as well.

SG: Great seeing old friends and meeting new ones. Mark Emerick was on hand and I could not wait to see him crank up that guitar and show these folks how they play Southern music way up there in New York. Mark is one of the finest players you will ever have the honor to hearing! I don't know how he learned to play all that great Southern music, but he is living proof that being Southern is a state of mind.

Buffalo: Amen to that, Scott. I believe Mark will tell ya that he studied the greats like Dickey Betts and Toy Caldwell. In fact he has always gravitated toward Southern rock bands, and hits Toy’s licks so perfect it blows my mind. I hope Mark gets invited back next time as a guest artist.

SG:Any time spent with the fine folks who show up every year to support the work being done by the Angelus House is time well spent and that's not just the artists but the regular folks who come every year and spend their hard earned money to support a good cause.

Buffalo: Thursday night was the “Pairing Party,” for the golf teams to be matched up with their country music star team mates. Lots of excellent food was served, including some out of this zip code and out of this world baked salmon. Once the golf teams were decided, the jam began. Obviously my favorite part of the whole shootin’ match, I had no idea just how stellar tonight’s jam would be. Tommy Crain and The Crosstown Allstars rocked the house with their own excellent music and were soon joined by the man of the hour, Charlie Daniels, along with CDB keyboardist Taz DiGregorio and backup singer Carolyn Corlew.

SG: Here is where the magic begins!

Buffalo: Charlie Daniels became a 19 year old that night. Dressed down in his street clothes and military cap, Charlie put a hurtin’ on that Les Paul guitar, kicking off with “Everyday I Have The Blues,” and doing “Long Haired Country Boy.” The group sounded like they had been rehearsing together for weeks. Hard to believe it was all on the fly. Charlie called out “One Way Out,” Tommy Crain put the glass slide on his finger, and off they went. I was so privileged to be standing right in front of Charlie and Tommy as they went at it. Charlie spread his legs for a firm stance and went face to face with Tommy, just like in the glory days. Boy howdy! They were smoking. I saw Charlie lookat Tommy at one point and say “Watch this!” Then he ripped a riff off that would make Dickey Betts envious.

SG: To see Tommy and Charlie go toe to toe was something I will never forget! I swear Charlie was on fire and he looked so relaxed, it was like he was a kid again and nothing mattered except him, his guitar and trying to blow Tommy away with his licks. For me the jams that make up this event are what I live for and this one ranks right up there with the best that's ever been.

Buffalo: Of course! Charlie sings it every night, “I done told you once you son of a gun I’m the best there’s ever been!” The guys ripped through “Can’t you See,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” “The South’s Gonna Do it Again,” and “The Devil went Down to Georgia.” It was amazing.

SG: Great set, I never dreamed I would hear Charlie play “One Way Out,” and then they ripped into “Can't You See” with Doug Gray sharing the singing with Charlie, well that just sent chills up my spine.

Buffalo: More jammers took the stage, including The Trunk Band and members of Ghost Riders. There was a lot of great music played.
On Friday morning Scott and I attended the breakfast buffet, which rocked. Then we jumped in the car for the one hour drive to Sarasota to visit Bud Snyder. I have worked with Bud for years on GRITZ advertising but never met him. Bud is a veteran of The Allman Brothers Band, having done sound and mixing for the Brothers as well as Gregg’s band and Dickey Betts and Great Southern. He was a great guy. very spiritual. I dig that. The studio off from the house is very cool as well. I had just missed Pedro (Dickey’s bassist and a multi-instrumental genius) but I met his Dad. We all had a nice visit, then I had to get back to play another gig in the Lobby Bar.

SG: Great side trip and I enjoyed meeting Bud.

Buffalo: This time out, I played the first set, then turned it over to Hays and Billy. Once I finished performing, I had to high tail it to the Banquet/Auction. As usual, the food was excellent, prime rib and asparagus and stuff. Yum. The live auction was crazy. You have to be sure not to scratch your nose or raise a hand, or you’ll find yourself the proud owner of a Wayne Gretzky hockey stick. The coolest item this year was a fold from one of Charlie Daniels’ horses named Charlie’s Angel. Beautiful animal.

SG: The people who support Charlie in his efforts here never fail to amaze me and that was a beautiful colt for sure and what a great cause.

Buffalo: After it was all said and done, we went over to the huge club Floyd’s in the hotel for another jam. Tommy Crain and The Crosstown Allstars kicked it off in style, before once again adding Charlie Daniels and Charlie Hayward to the mix for “Further On Up The Road” and several others, once again ending up with a scorching “Devil Went Down to Georgia.” I still say nobody will ever play the guitar on “a band of demons” like Tommy Crain. It was so cool.

SG: After the jam the night before I was ready to be disappointed since there is no way you could ever top what happened on Thursday, or could you? The Crosstown Allstars got the crowd ready and when Charlie Daniels and Charlie Hayward joined the fun. I could not control myself. I had to leave my seat and find my way right down front to watch as two of the best guitar players ever give us a show. Tommy and Charlie can read each others minds and the way they play off of each other it amazing. The only problem with this whole jam thing is there are so many great players giving it their all that you can't seem to watch them all and before you know their set is done and you are left to catch your breath and try to remember all that just happened.

Buffalo: Next up came Confederate Railroad with a mini-set that included “Trashy Women,” their biggest hit. Danny, Wayne, Jimmy and the boys always give 100 percent, and tonight was no different.

SG: Hard to follow what just happened but the Confederate Railroad guys showed they were up to task. They keep the crowd up and and had everyone in the house singing along.

Buffalo: Marshall Tucker was scheduled to go on next, but because of whatever reason, Montgomery Gentry took the stage for a set of smoking covers, including “The Midnight Special.” After several songs, Chris Hicks, Stuart Swanlund and BB Borden from Tucker joined them. At one point, Chris Hicks saw me taking pictures, and invited me onstage. I figured it was to sing backup, but as it happened, Chris took his guitar off and put it around my neck, We played “Can’t You See” and just had a blast. By now Tommy Crain was onstage along with others. I kicked off “Sweet Home Alabama,” and saw Eddie grinning. Fun? You bet! The jam continued for a while, and after a bit i found myself tired out and headed out.

SG: What a jam this was, and when Chris handed Michael his guitar and I saw the look on Michael’s face I knew I had to get right down front and capture this adventure on film. Michael jamming with Montgomery Gentry - now that's a memory. Its was way to much fun.

Buffalo: Saturday was show day, and what a show it was. Locals Wiley Fox opened it all up with talent and major class as always. Several young country acts followed, but i was waiting on Trick Pony, one of my favorites. When Heidi and the boys took the stage the crowd went nuts. They tore it up big time, ending with one of my favorites, “Pour Me.”

SG: Trick Pony was awesome. Heidi plays that harp better then anyone I know and I will never forget last year at Floyd’s when I first got to see her up close. Man that little lady can play and sing.

Buffalo: Scott and I were both all over the place. I got to spend some quality time with cartoonist Guy Gilchrist (Nancy/The Muppets). He’s a great guy and a major friend of The Angelus. I spent a little time with Doug Gray, some with Bruce Brown and my friend Mike who runs The High Lonesome bar in Georgia. It was a big surprise to see another pal, Brad “The Animal” Lesley, former Cincinatti Reds pitcher turned actor. always great to see him. He’s a life long fan of Marshall Tucker like me. Oh, speaking of MTB, I just love those cats, and look forward to seeing them all every time, along with Dibby, Keith and the rest of the crew.

SG: To me this is another special part of this event, just hanging out spending time with people. Its always special to spent time with Doug, Rene and all the Marshall Tucker folks and meeting the new friends is part of why this Angelus family keeps on growing, once you are part of it you never want to leave.

Buffalo: Confederate Railroad played a great set as usual, and Tommy Crain sat in. Marshall Tucker Band set up, and Doug announced that it would be different tonight as he is supposed to rest his voice and is going in for vocal cord surgery February 2nd. Still, he sang “This Ol’ Cowboy” and Chris did “The Rain.” Then Doug brought out Danny Shirley to sing “24 Hours at a Time.” The band rocked it up with Tommy Crain sitting in.To close it all out, I myself was brought out to sing on “Can’t You See,” with Mark Emerick on guitar and a cast of thousands, or what seemed like thousands. Fun!

SG: It was thousands and I believe this is when the wonderful security folks started to get nervous. The mass of people sharing the stage was amazing and my only wish was that I could have heard Mark's guitar better but from where I was it was hard to hear anything except the band that was to play next tuning their instruments.

Buffalo: The backstage area was ridiculously crowded by now, and I just Buffaloed my way through the mass of humanity and out onto the loading dock. I hung out for a bit while the next act played, but then security freaked out on us and I listened to a couple of Montgomery Gentry tunes before catching the shuttle back to the hotel.
SG: The venue security just freaked out and in trying to gain control they created more problems and made it hard on everyone. I went out front to watch the show and even with my all access pass was told I would have to leave the venue and walk down the street to catch the shuttle back to the hotel. After a major heart to heart with the guard he walked with me back to the parking lot where we found Tammy. The guard understood that I had not been telling a lie and it was okay to be where I was. I listened to some of Charlie's set, called my son Steven and allowed him to listen as best he could hear from where I was. But like Michael, being tired and flustrated I just caught the next van back to the hotel.

Buffalo: Yeah, keeping in mind the security was part of the amphitheater crew, and Angelus or Charlie had nothing to do with it... Back at the Hard Rock, I made a bee-line for the Hospitality room for a refreshing beverage, then hooked up with Doug and Rene Gray and sipped tea while they did the sushi thing. Me? I don’t eat bait. *grin* Before long they opened up the ball room again for more horse doovers and a lot of fun conversation with Charlie and Pat Hayward, BB Borden, Pat and Linda Elwood and more. The Trunk Band hosted another final jam, and it was all over but the drivin.’

SG: Great final night and so good talking to Charlie and Pat Haywood, (Charlie I hope you used sun screen for your week at the beach) Linda and Pat Elwood and so many others but it was time for bed.

Buffalo: We said goodbye to all our friends- at least the ones we could locate- and hit the bed at late-thirty in the A.M. The next morning, it was breakfast with friends and off we were. Leaving is always the hard part, but it’s nice knowing we’ll see one another again before long.

SG:Leaving was the hardest part and knowing how long until we all meet again makes it even harder. Thanks to everyone one who makes this event possible and to all our friends great seeing y’all again and I hope to see you next year

Buffalo: Or, as the case may be, November of 2007. Until then, y’all keep in touch, and keep on rockin.’



BEST DRESSED: Heidi (Trick Pony)
MOST TALENTED: Chris Hicks (Marshall Tucker Band)
BEST ALL AROUND: Charlie Daniels
FRIENDLIEST: Mark Emerick (Commander Cody)
COOLEST GUY: Troy Gentry (Montgomery Gentry)
COOLEST GAL: Heidi (Trick Pony)
MOST ATHLETIC: Brad "The Animal" Lesley
FUNNIEST: Cledus Judd
BEST COUPLE: Mr. & Mrs. Charlie Hayward (CDB)
BEST ROLE MODEL: Charlie Daniels
BEST LINES OVERHEARD: "Yes it says All Access, but that doesn't mean you can stay backstage." "Has anybody seen Bonnie Bramlett?" "Would you like mixer with that Crown Royal?"




Photos by Michael Buffalo Smith Except Where Noted

Charlie Daniels joined Tommy Crain & The Crosstown Allstars for a red hot jam after the Pairing Party on Thursday.


Charlie and Tommy trade off licks on "One Way Out."


Charlie rocks out on "Everyday I Have The Blues."



Charlie and Doug Gray sing "Can't You See."


Crosstown Allstars rip it up with Charlie.



Bob Rumer gets into the groove!


Country Star/Radio Host Chad Brock.


Doug (who doesn't like being photographed without his makeup...wait a minute, that was KISS...) and Rene Gray at banquet.


Half of the Angelus super team, Gar Williams, with Danny Shirley of Confederate Railroad.


Cartoonist Guy Gilchrist (Nancy/Muppets) signs a US Legends guitar for the charity auction.


Old friends and band mates, CDB's Charlie Hayward and Tom Crain.


Heidi of Trick Pony signs for US Legends guitars after her show.


Our friend "Coach" wears Buffalo's hat.


Mark Emerick (Commander Cody Band), Eddie (Montgomery Gentry) and Buffalo.

(Scott Greene Photo)


Jimmy Dormire of Confederate Railroad.


Buffalo and singer Aaron Kelly.

(Aaron's Mom Photo)


Montgomery Gentry at the Friday night jam.


Scott Greene with Mr. Daniels.


Tommy Crain, Charlie Daniels and Chris Hicks kick it up.


Steve Grisham does some acoustic Ghost Riders.


"The Devil Went Down to Georgia."




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