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Charlie Daniels is making sure the South's still gonna do it, again

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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When Charlie Daniels started writing songs back in the 50s -- including one, "It Hurts me," eventually recorded by Elvis Presley -- his goal was to make music his lifetime pursuit.

And at the age of 78, with 30 studio albums to his credit, Daniels can feel secure that he's succeeded.

"That was one of my prime goals when I started," the North Carolina native says by phone from a tour stop near Indianapolis. "I wanted longevity. I wanted to do this because I loved it. I didn't want to go in and do it for a few years and leave, not just come in and lay awhile and quit. I wanted to build something stable."

Daniels went from playing sessions for Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen to recording on his own in 1971, then forming his Charlie Daniels Band shortly thereafter. He first with the novelty song "Uneasy Rider" in 1973 but went on to score major hits such as "The South's Gonna Do it Again," "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" and "In America," and subsequently journeying into more straightforward country and gospel as well as his particular brand of Southern rock.

Daniels' latest album, 2014's "Dylan Off the Grid," features his interpretations of Dylan songs, and his honors include induction into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame and a prestigious BMI Icon award -- and a spot in a Geico auto insurance ad.

But Daniels says the key to his endurance has been on the stage. "If people know that every time they go see a band play they're gonna get the best the band has to offer every night, they're going to come back," explains Daniels, who's releasing a new live album during the summer and will also be hosting another of his all-star Volunteer Jam charity concerts. "That's what makes a long career.

"You play for the same people over and over and over, and they bring people with them -- usually they're kids. I look out and I can see three generations of the same family, which is a wonderful thing. It's a real gift, but we've worked hard for it, too."

The Charlie Daniels Band and the Outlaws

7 p.m. Thursday, June 18.

Freedom Hill Amphitheatre, 14900 Metropolitan Parkway, Sterling Heights.

Tickets are $25-$89 pavilion, $10 lawn.

Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.freedomhill.net.

Web Site: www.freedomhill.net

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