Posted on 08.20.2021

Volunteer Jam: A Musical Salute to Charlie Daniels – Over One BILLION Served - Soapbox Jr.

August 18, 2021

Of all the Volunteer Jams, the road to Volunteer Jam: A Musical Salute to Charlie Daniels was a bumpy one.

It was originally titled Charlie Daniels Volunteer Jam: A Musical Salute and would have been the next in the series of Volunteer Jams. I have to admit that I hated the title. It sounded like a posthumous tribute show while he was still alive and going strong, but ultimately it was prophetic and with a little rewording, highly appropriate.

It was originally supposed to be held in September of 2020 but in March, but with the shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the nearly complete shutdown of not just the music business, but practically ALL business, in March of 2020, the decision was made to move the show from September to February of 2021.

Then, obviously, July 6, 2020 changed everything. The show was retitled Volunteer Jam: A Musical Salute to Charlie Daniels, and after lingering COVID-19 concerns, it was again moved to August of 2021.

With the renewed concerns about the COVID Delta variant, even just a few weeks before, fears started ramping up that the show could be postponed again, and frankly, if that had happened, I don’t know if it would have been rescheduled.

But thankfully that didn’t happen.

The bittersweet Volunteer Jam: A Musical Salute went on as scheduled, with few COVID-related issues. Unfortunately, COVID kept Alabama and Gretchen Wilson from taking part.

But the evening was exciting, and the fans were electric. They came for what is likely one final hurrah of the concert series which began all the way back in 1974.

The Isaacs started off the night with their beautiful rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” 

That kicked off an evening that was truly an amazing tribute to the life, career and legacy of Charlie Daniels.

Even without Gretchen and the ‘Bama boys, the lineup was spectacular.

The first-timers were numerous, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Big & Rich, 38 Special, Jenny Tolman, Cece Winans, Travis Denning, Anthony Castagna, The SteelDrivers, Rhett Akins, Pure Prairie League Cedrick Burnside, Randy Travis and comedian Dusty Slay.

Those veterans who returned for the – most likely – final Jam were, The Marshall Tucker Band, Chris Young, Exile, The Allman Betts Band, Lorrie Morgan, Scooter Brown Band, The Gatlin Brothers, Johnny Lee, Travis Tritt, Jimmy Hall from Wet Willie and Ricky Skaggs and was, once again, hosted by Sirius/XM personality, Storme Warren.

Storme introduced mom and me and we took the stage, I indicated to him that I had something I wanted to say, and he handed me the microphone. I said that almost every Jam had started this way, so if you don’t mind, “Ain’t it good to be alive and be in Tennessee!” The Jam faithful recognized the words and responded in kind. I walked off stage and I realized that I said the concerts started off with that line… It wasn’t ever in a particular place, but I got lost in the moment, but I don’t think anyone cared or was going to fact-check me.

Randy Travis also appeared with vocalist James Dupré singing Randy’s signature song, “Forever and Ever Amen.” James sang the song, but the final “Amen” belonged to Randy, whose speech has been limited since a stroke in 2013.

Big & Rich sang their hits “Eighth of November” and “Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy,” but in between they played “God Bless America” and urged fans to turn on their cellphone lights. It was beautiful, and I know dad approved.

There were so many wonderful performances, many like Chris Young chose to do an original song or two of theirs, in Chris’ case it was “Friends  “Getting You Home (The Black Dress Song)” and his newest single, “Famous Friends,” but he also did a song he performed at Volunteer Jam XX, “Drinkin’ My Baby Goodbye.”

One moment that left me in tears was Michael W. Smith and Cece Winans performance of “How Great Thou Art.” As I wrote about not too long ago, after hearing an acoustic version of the song at our church a few months ago, I listened to dad’s version in the car, and I wasn’t expecting tears to flow, and I was in the same shape during the Michael and Cece’s performance. It was powerful and it left me a wreck.

The amazing performances continued all night long, 38 Special rocked, The Gatlin Brothers, Exile, the highly underrated Scooter Brown Band. Scott Brown recorded a song with dad called “American Song,” and played his vocals during the performance.

But for me, there was one moment that topped them all.

Doug Gray, the lead singer for The Marshall Tucker Band, and longtime friend of dad's had a presentation to make. I had already seen Doug before the show started, he was in the interview chair with John Rich for his Fox Nation show before I was to sit down with John, and I was waiting in the wings until they finished and I came up from behind and surprised him.

But for that portion of the show, I was seated with my mom on the side of the stage, and something that was put in motion many months ago was finally happening. I see all the streaming numbers from the major streaming services and my jaw almost hit the floor when I saw the Pandora numbers. I got in touch with Don Murry Grubbs, the publicist we use, and he knew someone at Pandora, and the wheels started spinning.

Doug brought mom and me on stage to present an award from Pandora, the Billionaire Award, for artists that have had over one billion – that’s with a “B” – streams on their service.

There aren’t a lot of country artists who have over a billion streams, and most of them are products of the current age, Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean and so forth.

When dad was in his heyday, record success was measured in gold and platinum albums, for an artist who was performing decades before the advent of streaming to reach that mark is a testament to dad’s music, and to his loyal fans who continue to listen.

Dad would have been honored and humbled at the milestone.

Mom was holding back tears, but I was ready to show off a bit. I carried the plaque off the stage, but I couldn’t resist raising it over my head for everyone to see. I was and always will be extremely proud of him.

Then Travis Tritt took the stage for an acoustic version of "Long Haired Country Boy."

The final portion of the show featured the CDB, of sorts. Longtime members Bruce Brown and Charlie Hayward were on hand, and Chris Wormer got what he calls a “Big boy job,” and was actually trying to do two jobs at the same time in the transition and was unable to make it. There was also a vacancy behind the keyboards and a last-minute change at drummer. Dane Bryant played keys for the night.

For the first time in 22 years Jack Gavin, was back behind the drums, and Chris Wormer’s replacement on guitar was nothing to sneeze at either. Billy Crain, brother of longtime CDB guitar player, Tommy Crain, made his first and likely only appearance as a member of the CDB. He was ¼ of dad’s last side project, Beau Weevils, but never officially with the CDB. It was an honor to have you aboard, Billy Bill.

There was also an obvious absence on fiddle, and Donnie Reis filled in for “the best there’s ever been” sawing so hard on “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” that he broke his fiddle bow.

Dad would be proud.

The incomparable Jimmy Hall from Wet Willie sang “The South’s Gonna Do It Again” and Chris Young provided the lead vocals on “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”

The final Jam portion also featured the J.J. Cale/Skynyrd classic “Call Me the Breeze” with a who’s who of the evening’s performers on stage one last time.

The only thing missing from the night was dad himself, but the love for him was obvious.

It was beautiful, it was emotional, it was one of the best times I’ve ever had, and not just because of the music and friends I saw.

But all good things must come to an end, and so ends the almost 47-year history of the Volunteer Jam, although I do hope there is some way for it to continue. I’m just not sure what that would look like yet. But maybe someone will come up with an idea and say, “You know what would be great…?”

And I’ll be all ears.

Thank you to everyone who performed, and to the fans who without you, none of this would have been possible.

At the risk of making an extremely long Soapbox even longer, It was pointed out to me that I didn’t acknowledge any of the behind the scenes people in this recap, there was no slight intended to anyone as I rarely, if ever, mentioned any of the behind the scenes aspects of any of the Jams.
From the get-go, my intention in writing this Jam Soapbox series to recap the shows themselves in an attempt to build anticipation for the 2021 Jam and hopefully bring as many fans as possible to Bridgestone Arena for the concert in hopes of filling it up because of the challenges that kept pushing it back further and further. I wanted to focus on the moments that I felt fans would be the most interested in, and hopefully help sell tickets, and I never meant to make anyone feel left out.
But thank you to David and Carolyn Corlew, Mike Smardak and everyone at Outback Presents, Bebe Evans, Paula Szeigis, Angela Wheeler, DeAnna Winn, Jackie McClure, Jimmy Burton, Bob Workman and Roger Campbell for all of your efforts, not just now, but over the years.

And as dad observed, “Ain’t it good to be alive and be in Tennessee!”

Let’s all make the day count, dad would want it that way.

What do you think?

Pray for our troops, our police, the Peace of Jerusalem and our nation.

God Bless America!

#BenghaziAintGoingAway #End22

—  Charlie Daniels, Jr.



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Check out "Geechi Geechi Ya Ya Blues" from Beau Weevils - 'Songs in the Key of E'




Final (Maybe) Jam
I have thoroughly enjoyed the stroll through the years and the insights seen through your eyes. I can say I was a part of VJ history (1981) as just another person in the crowd but the crowd was always part of the show. Your posts have given a wonderful perspective on what was simply a Tennessee institution. From my perspective what your dad did was give a voice and touchstone to Tennessee. When you were at a Jam, there was no doubt as to where you were. For those of us that grew up in the 70s particularly, the Jam and your dad helped give us a unique identity that was ours. Tennesseans. After a decade like the 60s where no one seemed to know where they stood or what they believed, your dad picked up his guitar and his fiddle, stood at a microphone and told all of us who we were and to embrace it. If there’s never another Jam, never EVER discount what transpired over 40 years. It was special. It was unique. And it was ours. But if there’s someone who is out there who can pick up the mantle of musician, man of faith, man of principle and seemingly endless energy, then yep we’ll be back. AIN’T IT GOOD TO BE ALIVE AND TO BE IN TENNESSEE? The answer is always YES
Posted by Tim
VJ Tribute
My wife and I have seen CDB countless times dating back to our early days in the early 90's. We argue about the count but it's somewhere around 15 times. We'd been looking forward to this VJ and were heartbroken when it was postponed and completely devastated with Charlie's passing. He was like family to us although we'd never actually met. A couple years ago CDB was scheduled to play a little fall festival just miles away from us but it was rained out at the last minute. We thought maybe that would be the night we'd actually get to say hi and shake his hand. But it wasn't meant to be. When we finally made that trip from Kansas to Nashville for what appears to be the final VJ, it was with much anticipation after nearly 2 years of looking forward to it, but at the same time with heavy hearts. I can't count the number of times a tear, or many tears, rolled down my cheek that night. All the outpouring of love for one man from one person after another was just overwhelming. He was a mountain of a man in every way and we will miss him dearly. If there's another man on earth that's more about God, family and country, I don't know who it would be. Rest well Charlie, rest well. And I'll still shake your hand one day.
Posted by Brent
Charlie's The greatest Man I've ever known
Best day of my life sitting with him at his table in his motor home
Posted by John
Keep On Jammin
Amen, Amen & Amen Charlie Jr, I do believe that the Volunteer Jams will somehow continue. This one was to good to be the last. I don't know what part of Covid kept Alabama and Gretchen away, but it is unbelievable to me that we as a nation have not stood up to the Dr. Fauci's and democrats that see nothing wrong murdering 125,000 babies per day world wide. I believe that Covid deaths are under 5 million since day one but 55 million babies are murdered each year, over 10 times the amount.....Jeremiah 7:6 KJV If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: Ezekiel 33:6 KJV But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand........What is wrong with the preachers in Americas churches today? Have they sold out to have a large church?.....nuff said God Bless Plowboy
Posted by Plowboy
Vol Jam A Tribute
Glad to hear the Jam was so successful. It being in the middle of the week and the fact that I work nights made it impossible for me to attend. Enjoyed the first Podcast with Roger but haven't had time to listen to the second one yet. Hate to hear that Chris Wormer has started a new career but hope he's successful and hope that he might still do some music projects in the future. I still believe there's enough interest to revive the Fan Club in some sort of fashion. I thoroughly enjoyed the many years that I was a member. Its not only good, buts "Great to be alive and be in Tennessee"! May God Bless!
Posted by Mark
Volunteer Jam 2021
Such an emotional evening and awesome concert. Thank you for the recap, here's hoping it won't be the last, may the Jams continue in honor of The Best There's Ever Been because his music will live on in our hearts forever. Last Wednesday was truly "a great day to be alive and in Tennessee".
Posted by Becky