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Country music legend Charlie Daniels performs the classic gospel song “How Great Thou Art” during his performance at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Ariz., Aug. 6, 2009. Daniels and his band were brought to Yuma by the “Spirit of America” tour, which brings headline musical entertainment to stateside military installations.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Graham J. Benson

Devil went down to Arizona: Charlie Daniels Band performs for Yuma Marines

13 Aug 2009 | Lance Cpl. Graham J. Benson

The Charlie Daniels Band performed some of their 50 years worth of country and Southern rock hits at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Ariz., Aug. 6, 2009.

Daniels, a longtime military supporter, came to Yuma courtesy of the Spirit of America Tour, an organization that brings headline musicians to stateside military installations.

A crowd of approximately 500 gathered at 6 p.m. for a free Mexican dinner before filling the banquet room for the hour-and-a-half performance with a diverse set list.

The band played several of their classics, including “The Legend of Wooley Swamp” and “Long Haired Country Boy” before receiving raucous applause for their cover of Johnny Cash’s folk classic “Folsom Prison Blues.”

Daniels then added a surprisingly softer, gospel tune, “How Great Thou Art.” Things did not remain calm for long, however, as the band played the opening notes of their most recognizable hit, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” to end the evening.

“I had a blast once again,” said Willie Pepmiller, who also attended an Aaron Tippin performance here in December 2008, which was also brought by the Spirit of America Tour. “If they keep bringing these shows, I’ll definitely keep coming.”

Perhaps the most significant song of the night was not one of the band’s radio classics, but a song written specifically for military members, the gritty, blues tune “When I Get Home From Iraq.”

“It’s a very special song to me,” said Daniels. “I wrote each verse on separate trips to Iraq.”

The crowd heartily responded to the lyrics, which depict all the things that a deployed service member looks forward to doing after returning home.

“It was a great night of entertainment that you could just feel was really enjoyed and appreciated by everyone there,” said Bill Wyant, the event’s coordinator.

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