Confederate Railroad Respond to Illinois State Fair Cancellation, Calling It 'Very Disappointing'

Beth Gwinn/Redferns
Confederate Railroad

The group encourages fans to go see their friends Restless Heart & Shenandoah.

Southern country rockers Confederate Railroad are speaking out about the decision this week by the DuQuoin State Fair to cancel their appearance due to what a spokesperson for Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said on Tuesday was the administration's prohibition on using state resources to "promote symbols of racism."

The long-running band, known for such songs as "She Took It Like a Man," "Summer in Dixie," "I'm Just a Rebel" and "I Hate Rap," was slated to play at the Fair on Aug. 27 with their friends Restless Heart and Shenandoah. The group's logo features a steam locomotive flying Confederate flags, which have been criticized as racist emblems harkening back to slavery and segregation; supporters claim the flag represents Southern heritage and history.

In a statement posted on the band's official site on Tuesday about their removal from the bill, singer Danny Shirley wrote, "This was very disappointing as we have also played this fair before and enjoyed it very much. The outpouring of support from Confederate Railroad fans, fans of other acts, and the public in general, has been both overwhelming and very much appreciated. I would also like to thank the actors, athletes and fellow country music artists who have spoken out in support." Charlie Daniels and the Oak Ridge Boys' Joe Bonsall are among those who've supported the band.

The leader of the group formed in 1987 in Atlanta, Georgia -- whose first four albums were released on Atlantic Nashville -- also noted that "several people" have asked Restless Heart and Shenandoah to cancel their performances in protest. "I have spoken to both acts and encouraged them to perform as scheduled," Shirley wrote. "Live concerts are how we pay our bills and feed our families. I would never want to see another act lose a payday because of this." Shenandoah says it will still play but that “this ‘political correctness’ has to stop. It’s tearing our country apart.”

Shirley encouraged fans to go see the other two acts, ending his plea with a call to a higher power. "As I have said many times onstage, I am by no means a saint but, I am a man of faith and I have faith that God will see us through this as well as whatever comes next!"