In a Jam, Volunteer Style - Soapbox Jr.
It goes without saying that the past year has been tumultuous, with the pandemic, the loss of dad and everything that came with.
Thankfully things have started getting back to normal, at least relatively speaking… aside from the obvious absence that we, the CDB family, and you, the fans still feel.
One thing still in the works, but has changed from its original inception is the latest Volunteer Jam.
For those of you who don’t really know, the very first Volunteer Jam was held at Nashville’s War Memorial Auditorium on October 4, 1974. The plan was to do a live recording session for two tracks that would go on the ‘Fire on the Mountain’ album, “No Place to Go,” and “Orange Blossom Special,” but the band did a full concert in addition to the two songs.
Dad also invited some friends of theirs to come and “jam” after the CDB set, so Toy Caldwell, Jerry Eubanks and Paul Riddle from The Marshall Tucker Band, and Dickey Betts from The Allman Brothers Band showed up and everyone had such a good time, they decided to do another one the following year.
1975’s VolJam was much larger and was at MTSU’s Murphy Center with the full Marshall Tucker Band, Wet Willie’s Jimmy Hall, Dru Lombar from Grinderswitch and Dickey Betts and Chuck Leavell from the Allman Bros. That night the CDB received their first gold record for ‘Fire on the Mountain.’ It was a great night.
There have been approximately twenty Jams and several Jam tours, along with a few unofficial VolJams like one in Colorado a few years ago. The Jam became the CDB’s homecoming concert, and was held more or less annually from 1974-1996 with a few exceptions, but it was always a great show, and a great party.
The majority of Jams would be held at Municipal Auditorium, one of those being VolJam V, and it was one of the most memorable for multiple reasons. First of all, it featured the first live performances of songs from the ‘Million Mile Reflections’ album including “Reflections” which is about performers who died way too soon; Elvis Presley, Janis Joplin and dad’s friend and Lynyrd Skynyrd frontman, Ronnie Van Zant. Dad had difficulty getting through the final verse when mentioned “Ronnie my buddy” and the chorus that followed.
It also marked the first live performance of a little old song called “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” The crowd seemed to like it, even though dad still hadn’t committed the lyrics to memory and flubbed a couple of lines. The audience hadn’t heard anything to compare it with at that point.
Jam V was also special for the first stage reunion of the surviving members of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Back then, most of the acts – aside from the CDB – were a closely guarded secret, so the crowd had no idea that they were about to see the band who just over 15 months before had been in a plane crash.
That crash took the lives of the pilots, roadie Dean Kilpatrick, guitarist Steve Gaines, and his sister Cassie who was one of the Honkettes who sang backup, and Ronnie Van Zant.
What occurred was a fusion of the two bands, CDB and Skynyrd performing a unique arrangement of “Call Me the Breeze” with the CDB’s Taz DiGregorio providing the vocals, and a haunting instrumental of “Free Bird.” The spotlight operator shined the light on an empty microphone where Ronnie would have been belting out the lyrics.
It was an emotional night as fans dealt with the loss of a southern rock icon.
Which brings me back to the present. We will be doing much the same thing on August 18, 2021 as we mourn the loss of yet another music icon.
What had originally been scheduled as just another Volunteer Jam in spring of 2020 – officially titled Charlie Daniels Volunteer Jam – A Musical Salute was renamed Volunteer Jam – A Musical Salute to Charlie Daniels, and has become a tribute show.
There will still be special guests, the CDB will still perform, although there will no doubt be some guest artists filling in for dad.
The show has been postponed three times now, but with Bridgestone Arena ready to get back to full capacity, it looks like it’s going to stay put this time.
As it stands right now, The Marshall Tucker Band, Alabama, Big & Rich, Ricky Skaggs, Chris Young, Michael W. Smith, Trace Adkins, The Gatlin Brothers, Cece Winans, Gretchen Wilson, Cowboy Troy, Keb' Mo', The Outlaws, .38 Special, Junior Brown, The Allman Betts Band, Cedric Burnside, Jenny Tolman, the Atlanta Rhythm Section, Travis Denning, Mickey Gilley, Johnny Lee, Rhett Akins, Exile, Randy Travis, Anthony Castagna, Lorrie Morgan, Scooter Brown Band, The SteelDrivers, Pure Prairie League and comedian Dusty Slay are all scheduled to appear, but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be some additions, and just maybe… a real surprise or two.
Tickets are available at the Bridgestone box office or HERE
It will no doubt be an emotional night, but it will feel good to get the music of Charlie Daniels back on stage where it has been ever since dad left North Carolina back in 1958.
We hope you’ll come join us to celebrate dad’s life in Nashville this August, it will be a helluva Jam.
Let’s all make the day count!
What do you think?
Pray for our troops, our police, our nation and the peace of Jerusalem.
God Bless America!
— Charlie Daniels, Jr.
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