DANVILLE — Dan Shirley has always believed there were just two kinds of music — one where you turn the radio volume up, and one where you turn the radio volume down.
Shirley and his band Confederate Railroad have been playing music that people have turned up for 20 years. Tonight at 8:30, they’ll be bringing their high-energy show to Danville for the Danville-Howard Turkey Festival.
“We like to get up on stage and have a good time. There’s nothing scripted. Whatever comes to mind, we do,” Shirley said. “We still play over 100 concerts a year. We enjoy it. Being in front of a crowd is pretty contagious. You’ll still see us out there having fun.”
Confederate Railroad hit the big time in 1992 with the release of their self-titled debut. “She Took it Like a Man” gave listeners a glimpse of what was to come, making it all the way to No. 26 on the country music chart.
“Jesus and Mama” and “Queen of Memphis” went straight to the top of the charts, followed by what became their signature song — “Trashy Women.” That song was nominated for a Grammy and helped Confederate Railroad grab the Academy of Country Music’s Best New Group Award in 1993. Shirley’s favorite song, “When You Leave That Way You Can Never Go Back,” also hit the charts that year.
The band followed that up with “Notorious,” which spawned hits like “Daddy Never Was the Cadillac Kind,” “Elvis and Andy” and “Summer in Dixie.” With just two albums under their belt, Confederate Railroad had nine songs hit the charts and sold more than 4 million albums. After having music critics tear their songs apart, Shirley and the band were glad the real critics — the fans — heard something worth listening to.