PONTOON BEACH — For more than 40 years, the Charlie Daniels Band has crafted numerous country hits, including “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” in 1979.
At 9 p.m. Aug. 15, the band will make an appearance on the main stage at Pontoon Beach in the village’s fourth annual Party At The Beach festival at the Randall D. Dalton Veteran’s Memorial Park.
“I’m looking forward to seeing Charlie,” said Pontoon Beach Mayor Mike Pagano, one of the organizers of the event. “I met Charlie personally twice back in 1976 and 2012 backstage. He’s a really down-to-earth gentleman. He’s a great man and great guy.”
The festival will open one day early at 6 p.m. Aug. 13. The next day, the festival will open to the public at 4 p.m. It will open at 10 a.m. Aug. 15.
“I’m really looking forward to the event,” Pagano said. “Hopefully, the rain holds off. Last year, we had the Little River Band and we got pounded storm after storm after storm. It was still crowded, but the rain drove a lot away. We’re looking forward to it. It’s a lot of work on our part bringing in national acts versus local entertainment.”
Also performing at the Party At The Beach is Drake White and the Big Fire. Originally from Nashville, White sang in the choir at his local church and began writing songs when he was 14. Two years ago, he released his debut single, “Simple Life.” He released another single, “It Feels Good,” this year and it’s currently in the top 50 in the U.S. country charts.
“This guy is really bringing it,” Pagano said. “If you listen to some of his stuff, it’s really entertaining and the band is awesome.”
White will perform in an event Aug. 7 in Portland, Maine, before heading to Pontoon Beach. He will return to the St. Louis area Aug. 29, when he and his band will perform in the Bull Float Trip.
Daniels began writing and performing in the 1950s. In 1973, his song, “Uneasy Rider,” reached No. 9 in the Billboard Hot 100. Six years later, his biggest hit, “The Devil Went Down To Georgia,” reached No. 3 in the Hot 100 and No. 1 in the U.S. country charts.
The Charlie Daniels Band will perform in an event in Columbus, Ind., on Aug. 14 before heading to Pontoon Beach. On Aug. 12, the band will perform in the 40th Anniversary Volunteer Jam in Nashville, Tenn., with special guests Travis Tritt, Alabama and the Oak Ridge Boys, among others.
The band will be in Illinois two more times in September, when it is scheduled to perform Sept. 2 at the DuQuoin State Fair and the Concert in the Cornfield Sept. 12 in Jacksonville.
Party At The Beach also will have performances from local groups Pony Up and Well Hungarians on Aug. 14 and Vote For Pedro, another local band, the next night. There will be a pro wrestling event at noon Aug. 15.
The Well Hungarians are a country band that started in 1993 in Southern Illinois. In 2006, the band was awarded Country Group of the Year by New Music Weekly Magazine.
Vote For Pedro will perform Aug. 14 at Spassfest at Schoendienst Park in Germantown.
Admission to the party is free, and the concerts and wrestling events are free to the public. There will be a charge for food and drinks.
“It worked great last year,” Pagano said. “Hopefully, it works great this year. We have a carnival coming in. We have a lot of vendors, wrestling matches and all kinds of cool stuff.”
Party At The Beach began in 2012. Last year, the festival had a guest performance from the Little River Band, which was known for big hits in the 1970s such as “Happy Anniversary,” “Lonesome Loser,” “Cool Change,” “Help Is On Its Way” and “Reminiscing”.
“I came up with it in my first year as mayor and this will be our fourth one,” Pagano said. “Last year, I decided to go for a national act. The national act is a whole different animal. You’ve got to have security and a certain stage and a certain sound system. I played music for 30 years for local bands and acoustic bands, so I kind of know what’s going on. I’m acquainted to the music business somewhat.”