Confederate Railroad Singer on Changing the Band’s Name: ‘I Would Never Do That’
Confederate Railroad have come under fire recently because of their name and their logo, getting dropped from two festival performances. But in a new interview, the band's lead singer, Danny Shirley, flatly says there's no way the band will change their name.
"I would never do that," Shirley tells Rolling Stone Country unequivocally. "All these people who have stood up for us through this, and the millions of people who have bought these records over the years, and especially now, with us being under fire and people taking a stand in our defense, there’s no way I’d ever change the name of the band. That’d just be a kick in the gut to anyone who ever bought a record by us."
The country-rock and Southern rock band, whose logo features a steam train flying two Confederate flags, were dropped from the Du Quoin State Fair in Du Quoin, Ill., where they were slated to perform on Aug. 27, over concerns about their name in early July. Late that month, the group were dismissed from the Ulster County Fair in New Paltz, N.Y., where they were slated to perform on Aug. 1, over similar concerns.
Shirley tells Rolling Stone Country that Confederate Railroad have received occasional flack over their name in the past.
"After that nut killed those people down in Charleston, when they started taking down monuments and all that, we lost some gigs there. That’s where it started," he says. But he feels the current situation is different.
"The thing that makes this different, in Illinois, it was the government that shut us down. It wasn’t that there was a groundswell of people that were offended by Confederate Railroad. You had one political blogger bring it up: 'Is it right to have a band named Confederate Railroad at the state fair in the land of Lincoln?'" he shares, pointing out that the band had already played the Illinois fair twice in previous years without incident.
"The governor came out saying it’s because we use the [Confederate] flag, but that’s not even true," Shirley says, pointing out that the flag doesn't appear onstage as a backdrop, hanging from the rafters or at the front of the stage. It appears on the band's T-shirts, which they don't sell at venues where there is a policy against use of the symbol.
Shirley was raised in Chattanooga, and he says he never saw the Confederate flag as a symbol of hatred.
"We were taught that flag means you like the part of the country you come from. And like I’ve said in other statements, I will not apologize for liking the South. I love it here," he states, adding that the flap in Illinois was more about a "disconnect" between the rural population and the urban population in the state.
"I’m not the only one that is tired of being so politically correct," he states. "From what I’m picking up, the farmers and the country people feel like they’re being pushed around by the city people."
Elsewhere in the interview, Shirley dismisses the fact that the shooter in Charleston in 2015, Dylann Roof, had photos of himself online with the Confederate flag.
"Of course there was probably 10,000 photos of him without the flag," the singer says. "If he were sitting there wearing Nike shoes, would we have to get rid of Nike? A lot of this is blown out of proportion."
Confederate Railroad scored a string of hits in the early-to-mid '90s with songs including "Jesus and Mama," "Queen of Memphis," "Trashy Women," "Daddy Never Was the Cadillac Kind," "Elvis and Andy" and more. Charlie Daniels and Oak Ridge Boys singer Joe Bonsall are among the artists who have voiced public support for the group after news of the controversy over their name broke.
A complete list of Confederate Railroad's upcoming tour dates is available via the band's official website.
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