Energy, fun and excitement filled the Hempstead Hall crowd Friday night as southern rockers, Confederate Railroad, kicked off the show.
When lead vocalist Danny Shirley was asked if the band had any prior connections to this part of Arkansas he said no but, “So far so good.”
“It’s a beautiful venue and everyone has been great,” Shirley said.
Shirley said the band that has been in business for 43 years have played in Arkansas “many, many times.” But, he believes this was a first as far as playing in Hope.
Speaking with the front man Shirley just before the meet and greet was a great precursor to the show ahead as he radiated a positive energy and a big smile.
Shirley said the band played for names like David Allan Coe and Johnny Paycheck when they were first starting out.
“We did our first Railroad album in ’91,” he said, “so we have been around a long, long time.”
Not that age seemed to have slowed anyone down on that stage as the guys threw in a classic 1970’s hit from Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show, Cover of the Rolling Stone.
Another fun throwback was Elvis (Presley) and Andy (Griffith), two people “the south holds very dear” Shirley said.
Just because these guys have been around a while doesn’t mean they stopped writing or moving forward. Shirley said there was a gap between his writing and making new music until something happened that kicked him back into gear.
“I was approached by a few of the younger country stars, Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean about writing and pitching some of my material. It really meant a lot to me because I remember when I went to Waylon the same way.” He said being an influence to the younger talents was a huge push to him. “Knowing I was an influence to them and that they were fans meant a lot.”
Shirley said Waylon Jennings was the same type of influence in his career and love for country music.
“At 60 years old I got a new record deal with Sony. I asked for my release from Atlantic and was given total creative control with the new deal,” he said.
“Lucky to Be Alive was some of my best. I don’t know if I can top that.”
Shirley ended the quick before show interview stating that he was a man of faith and was very “grateful for all” of his career.
“I can’t complain. I am so grateful for all of it.”