Volunteer Jam XVI: Happy 60th Birthday, Charlie! - Soapbox Jr.
October 28, 1996.
After a four-year hiatus, the Volunteer Jam was back, in a way. What would be the last of the official Roman numeraled events was reimagined as an acoustic birthday celebration. MTV Unplugged was still an influential force and many acoustic albums and TV performances were still commonplace, so since this would be a very different type of Jam, the decision was made to go acoustic, and that ended up being the official name of the event. Volunteer Jam XVI Acoustic.
Dad’s 60th birthday was chosen as the date, and for the first and only time, the Jam was held at the Tennessee Performing Arts.
TPAC’s Jackson Hall was much smaller than the previous two venues, and the attendance was noticeably sparse. The whole event was much more informal than previous Jams.
Those returning for the acoustic Jam included Billy and Tommy Crain, Dru Lombar from Grinderswitch, Jimmy Hall from Wet Willie and John Berry.
One other artist returned was Henry Paul, but this time he was with his new group, Blackhawk, so this one technically has a foot in both the veteran and first-timers club.
Other newbies were David Ball, Tracy Lawrence, David Lee Murphy, Tracy Byrd, Victoria Shaw, Lorrie Morgan, Cledus T. Judd (No Relation), Randy Scruggs, who dad had played with back in The Earl Scruggs Review in the later 60s, Stephane Bentley and Billy Ray Cyrus.
This is a hard Jam to adequately describe because it seemed at times that there were more people backstage than there were out front, and I remember security being fairly lax and people seemed to be moving back and forth from the hall to backstage with relative ease. It was a birthday party after all, and everyone was there to celebrate dad’s 60th birthday.
One gift that was offered in a brief TV interview was from Billy Ray Cyrus who had said he was sending dad a pot-bellied pig. For whatever reason, whether dad declined the gift or it just fell by the wayside, dad never got the pig. Which was just fine, I don’t know what mom and dad would have done with a pet pig.
As far as the show went, I was out front for a few minutes, I seem to remember watching Tracy Lawrence perform and a few others, but backstage was where the action was.
So, my memories of the last original Volunteer Jams were backstage.
Most of the party was happening backstage, and I got to give dad one of the best birthday gifts I ever gave him. It goes without saying that dad was nearly IMPOSSIBLE to buy for. If he wanted or needed something, he would get it, so Christmas, birthdays and Father’s Day were always challenging. But it dawned on me that of all the gold, platinum, double platinum, triple platinum (and later quadruple platinum) awards that he had received over his long career, there was one thing he didn’t have, and I set out to change that.
Back in 1963, dad and his friend, mentor and later legendary producer, Bob Johnston, wrote a song called “It Hurts Me.” The song was cut by a lesser-known artist, but a year later, it was recorded by the biggest artist of them all, Elvis Presley. If you look at the songwriting credits, it will not feature Bob’s name. Bob was “creative” regarding business situations sometimes. Bob was signed to a publishing deal at the time, and whether it had to do with Elvis’ manager’s desire to have part of the publishing, I can’t say for sure, but Bob’s part of the song was attributed to his wife, Joy, under her maiden name, Byers.
“It Hurts Me” was supposed to be part of an album that wasn’t released in its entirety for decades, instead, the tracks were largely released as singles and B-Sides of other songs. “It Hurts Me,” ended up as the B-Side to the song “Kissin’ Cousins,” from the movie of the same name. It was a minor chart hit on its own, but did well from the sales of the flip side.
It dawned on me that “It Hurts Me” might be on an Elvis greatest hits collection, and if so, it might have gone gold.
I reached out to some friends of mine who were at RCA at the time, and sure enough, it was on a collection called “Elvis Gold Records Vol. 4” and it had indeed gone gold, and a plaque was put in motion.
Att dad’s 60th Birthday Volunteer Jam, I was able to present dad with an Elvis gold record, something I was reasonably sure that he didn’t have.
It was a special moment.
So, the original Volunteer Jams went out more with a whimper than with a bang, but the name would soon be resurrected in a different way as we will see in our next installment.
More special moments will be coming on August 18, the day of Volunteer Jam: A Musical Salute to Charlie Daniels on August 18, 2021, 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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