Confederate Railroad makes tracks for Roxy's

Friday, June 17, 2011
Confederate Railroad (submitted photo)

Downtown Cape Girardeau doesn't typically see big names performing in the clubs, but June 24, country act Confederate Railroad will pull up to the doors of Roxy's Country Saloon to entertain with their blend of outlaw country and good-time honky-tonk music.

Confederate Railroad launched after backing David Allen Coe and hit the ground running with a slew of hit songs in the mid-1990s. Songs like "Jesus and Mama," "Queen of Memphis" and the Grammy-nominated single "Trashy Women" helped define Confederate Railroad's sound and style.

Danny Shirley, founder and frontman, said the band's style is about having fun.

"We were David Allen Coe's band for several years, and before that, I worked for Johnny Paycheck, so that kind of gives me an excuse to do anything I want to do," Shirley said with a laugh.

"I never considered us an 'outlaw' act, but spending so much time around those two, you're sure to pick up some of their attitude, and style, musically."

Shirley said he was a fan of that style of country music before he began working with Paycheck and Coe.

"Waylon's [Jennings] what made me a country music fan," he said. "You listen to that stuff, and at the time it was considered outlaw country, but you put that in perspective now with what's out there, and it's just straight-ahead traditional country."

Shirley also cites George Jones as a big help to him when he first came to Nashville, Tenn.

"He took us out as an opening act for about the first year and a half," Shirley said. "You pick up a lot from somebody like that. George is just, well, hell; he's George Jones, you know? What else can be said?"

The band's current lineup is Shirley on vocals and guitar; drummer Mark DuFresne; bassist Wayne Secrest; Gates Nichols on steel guitar and vocals; Jimmy Dormire on lead guitar; and Cody McCarver on keyboards and vocals.

Matt Steel will be opening for Confederate Railroad. Steel is a familiar face at Roxy's, and shot part of his video for his single "Mud Bog" in the club. Steel has two albums, "Matt Steel" and "Keep Running."

Earl Bennett, owner of Roxy's, said he is excited to be bringing a big name in country music to downtown. Roxy's has been booking Nashville artists using various promoters for some time.

"One of them called me up and asked if I would be interested in some bigger acts," Bennett said. "Confederate Railroad came up and everything seemed to be right so we decided to go for it."

Bennet said more bands are opening up to the idea of playing smaller venues.

"Some of that may be just the fact that it's harder to fill up the big stadiums, but these guys are more of the 'let's have a party' band," he said. "I think it will be fun for downtown, and hopefully start a trend where people won't be afraid to bring some bigger acts down there."

Tickets for the event are $25, and 40 VIP tickets are $50, and can be purchased at Roxy's or by phone at 803-0050. Tickets are required to get in to the show.

The VIP tickets include access to the band before the concert, as well as giveaways, refreshments and snacks. The VIP party runs from 7 to 8:15 p.m. The show starts at 8:30.

Bennett said they have sold about half of the tickets for the show, an enthusiasm that keeps Confederate Railroad touring.

"We still do 100 shows a year," Shirley said. "It's amazing how much we work after all this time."

Shirley said he feels like his career is coming around to the best part all over again.

"You start playing guitar because it's fun," he said. "Then you put together a little band because it's fun. Then you start playing in night clubs to have a good time with it. Then all of a sudden, you have hit records, you're a corporation, you're dealing with promoters, a publicist, an attorney. It takes some of the fun out of it."

But Shirley said the band's longevity has paid off and it's back to the basics.

"If you're fortunate enough to keep working and sustain a career like we have, it's like you get to go back and do it for fun all over again, and I think in a lot of ways, I have more fun now than I ever have," he said. "The pressure's off, and we just have a good time."

Shirley said the state of country music is in good shape and that he's pulling for new artists to succeed, especially those who are passionate about playing.

"I wish that every kid that sits around his bedroom learning to play guitar can have what I have had," he said.

He said it's rewarding to him to meet up-and-coming artists that tell him they were influenced by him. He met Jason Aldean at a benefit in Tampa, Fla., when Aldean was just breaking into the scene.

"He was talking about growing up in Macon, Ga., and there was a club there called Whiskey River," Shirley said. "He said when him and his buddies were too young to get in there, when we would come play, they'd park their truck out by the back door and listen to our shows."

Shirley said Confederate Railroad remains tied to its roots and appreciates its fans. In addition to the VIP party, members stay late to meet their fans.

"Feel free to come up and say hello," he said.

Pertinent address:

107 N Main St, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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