Volunteer Jam VI: Bigger and Better - Soapbox Jr.
After an emotional Volunteer Jam V, the stage was set for Jam VI on January 12, 1980, the fourth one at Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium.
A lot had changed in a year. The CDB’s breakthrough single, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” had skyrocketed the band’s profile. and the song and the band would be nominated for -and won - multiple CMA and ACM awards, and would even win a Grammy in coming months after the song hit number one on the country charts, and even peaked at #3 on Billboard’s Hot 100, kept out of the #1 spot only by The Knack’s “My Sharona,” and Earth Wind & Fire’s “After the Love Has Gone.”
So, expectations for the 1980 Jam were elevated to say the least, and it goes without saying that it was another sold out show, in fact, if they found a way to get more than 10,000 people into the Municipal Auditorium, they would have had plenty of demand.
The special guest artists list almost doubled. And the show was now running into the wee hours of the morning.
I’m going to have to pick and choose, otherwise, it may take up about a third of the soapbox.
Papa John Creach, Sea Level, Stillwater, John Prine, and Grinderswitch were all back, along with The Marshall Tucker Band, Wet Willie, Dobie Gray, The Henry Paul Band, Willie Nelson, The Winters Brothers and the full Allman Brothers Band was fully represented this year, along with the incomparable Bonnie Bramlett.
Then some new Jam faces, Louisiana’s LeRoux, Mickey Gilley, Elvin Bishop (on a bale of hay), Crystal Gayle, Billy Joel’s saxophone player Richie Cannata, Delbert McClinton, “Do the Funky Chicken,” singer Rufus Thomas, Gospel superstar Bobby Jones and New Life and the legendary Ray Price.
There were many others, but I’ve only got limited space to work with, and one more I’m holding back on for a couple more paragraphs.
Mickey Gilley sat in with the CDB to perform “Don’t The Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time,” which was a huge hit for him, and had also been featured in the filmed, but not yet released, motion picture, “Urban Cowboy.” Both Mickey's song, and "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" went worldwide later in 1980 because of the movie which was set in Mickey's club, Gilley's in Pasadena, TX.
The CDB also backed up Rufus Thomas on his “Do the Funky Chicken” performance, and a long-haired cowboy hat-wearing “country boy” from Detroit named Ted Nugent.
Ted launched into his description of the invitation of his Jam invitation, and then proceeded to rock the stage with a very “Nuge” take on the Chuck Berry song, “Carol.”
At almost 15, I was turning into a pretty big Ted fan at this point, so I was happy to see the Motor City Madman rockin’ out with dad. It was pretty dang cool, that’s for sure, and he went over so well, that after he finished the song, dad invited him back for Jam VII while still on stage.
As he often did, dad closed the CDB set with Gospel songs, made even sweeter by the addition of Bobby Jones and New Life, “Amazing Grace,” and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.”
Jam VI was also the third Jam album to be released, along with Jam II on Capricorn records and ‘Volunteer Jam III & IV’ on Epic. It’s available as an import CD and appears to now be available for streaming.
It was another night to remember, and I haven’t even gotten to all the other outstanding performances of the evening, but there are a lot of highlights out there.
Jam VI was also broadcast on television as a PBS special, and a lot of those performances are available on YouTube, including “Carol,” “Caballo Diablo,” “Uneasy Rider,” “Passing Lane,” “Southbound,” “Ramblin’ Man,” “Don’t the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time,” and Dobie Gray’s powerful performance of The Band’s “The Night they Drove Old Dixie Down.”
The Jam was becoming a huge event now. It was not only drawing in southern rock and country fans, it was starting to bring in superstars from other genres, something it would continue to do for the next decade and beyond.
That holds true for Volunteer Jam: A Musical Salute to Charlie Daniels, just this week, Travis Tritt was confirmed for the August 18, 2021 show at Bridgestone Arena. Get tickets HERE
“Ain’t it good to be alive and be in Tennessee!”
Let’s all make the day count!
What do you think?
Pray for our troops, our police, the Peace of Jerusalem and our nation.
God Bless America!
— Charlie Daniels, Jr.
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