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The History of the Charlie Daniels Band Volunteer Jam in Nashville
by Pat Adams (from the TennnesseeConcerts website)
My Memories Of Nashville's Volunteer Jam by Pat Adams
Through all of Charlie Daniels accomplishments, Charlie Daniels may be best known for organizing the
genre-bending musical extravaganzas known as the Volunteer Jams, 16 music events over the course
of three decades. Some of my best concert memories growing up in Nashville Tennessee, are attending
almost all of the Volunteer Jam concerts.
The first of the Jam's which featured the Charlie Daniels Band & friends on October 4, 1974,
took place at Nashville's War Memorial Auditorium.
CDB songs at the Jam included Whiskey, Long Haired Country Boy, Trudy, Georgia, Feelin' Free, Be
Proud You're A Rebel, The Souths Gonna Do It, and New York City Rosewood Bed on which the late Joel
(Taz) DiGregorio took over the lead vocals. This was the beginning of a Nashville tradition, and several
live songs from that Jam were featured on the 1974 triple-platinum album "Fire On The Mountain".
Volunteer Jam II (1975) took place at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro Tennessee,
and was actually made into a movie, billed as "The First Full-Length Southern Rock Motion Picture."
Not only was I at the concert, but I remember going to see the movie as soon as it came out in the
theater. I now own the DVD, which was released in 2007 under the name "Volunteer Jam." It
can be purchased on Charlie Daniels official website at www.charliedaniels.com. This is a video worth
buying, if you are in to southern rock. It also features Jam guests Jimmy Hall, Dickey Betts, Chuck Leavell,
Dru Lumber and Artimus Pyle. Also featured, some great footage of the original Marshall Tucker Band
with Doug Gray, Paul Riddle, Jerry Eubanks, plus late members Toy Caldwell, Tommy Caldwell and
George McCorkle. Others performing at the concert included Alvin Lee and Ronnie Stoneman. This event
was recorded at a turning point in the history of the CDB. The breakthrough record "Fire On The Mountain"
was riding high on the charts, The South's Gonna Do It Again, was a hit anthem on FM radio and the band
was enjoying a peak moment of popularity that would keep on building. One of the reasons for the first
Volunteer Jam was to do some live recordings for "Fire On The Mountain", Daniels recalled. The first
Volunteer Jam was in a 2,200 seat hall and the second one was in a 13,000 seat hall. Daniels excepted
the group's first gold record on stage that night at Volunteer Jam II.
Volunteer Jam III-X took place at Nashville's Municipal Auditorium, between 1976 and the mid-1980's.
The Municipal Auditorium Jam's have been broadcast nationally on over 250 radio stations and later
around the globe. Many were televised on TV specials, including Volunteer Jam X, produced by the one
and only Dick Clark. Host Charlie Daniels, had no limit to the genre of music which is featured at the
Volunteer Jam concerts including rock, country, bluegrass, gospel, soul, classical, comedy, and last but
not least southern rock. My favorite Volunteer Jam concert was Vol Jam V, in January of 1979. This Jam
also took place at Nashville's Municipal Auditorium, and was somewhat of a tribute to Ronnie Van Zant
and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Lynyrd Skynyrd reunited for the first time on-stage, since their October 20, 1977
plane crash. They performed the J.J. Cale song Call Me The Breeze, with my friend Taz from the CDB on
vocals, then an instrumental version of Freebird, with a spotlight on Ronnie VanZant's hat hanging on an
empty microphone. Many people in the audience had tears in their eyes. Other CDB members playing with
Skynyrd that special night included Charlie Daniels and CDB bassist Charlie Hayward. Leon Wilkeson
appeared on stage, but could not play due to injuries from the plane crash. Judy Van Zant and Teresa
Gaines also spoke. The show featured other Skynyrd related tributes including Grey Ghost, a tribute to
Ronnie Van Zant by the Henry Paul Band, and Reflections by the Charlie Daniels Band. My other
memories of the Volunteer Jam Municipal Auditorium concerts include Billy Joel, Ted Nugent with Molly
Hatchet doing Mississippi Queen and Carol, Leon Russell, Mickey Gilley, Duane Eddy, Woody Herman,
Charlie Daniels with the Jordanaires doing an Elvis Presley medley, Louisiana's Leroux performing New
Orleans Ladies, Grinderswitch, Vince Gill, Nicolette Larson, Tommy Shaw doing Too Much Time On My
Hands, Dwight Yoakam, Papa John Creach, Orleans, Willie Nelson singing his classics Crazy, Night
Life and Good Hearted Woman, the late Soloman Burke, Sea Level, Eddie Rabbitt, Poco, the Oak Ridge
Boys singing Elvira. Later Jam's featured a solo William Lee Golden singing Long And Winding Road,
B.B. King, Delbert McClinton doing Standing On Shakey Ground, Ray Price singing For The Good Times,
The Outlaws, Bill Medley performing You've Lost That Lovin Feeling, Quarterflash doing Harden My Heart,
the late Boxcar Willie, the late Roy Acuff doing Wabash Cannonball, the late Jim Varney with his comedy,
Amy Grant, Tammy Wynette singing Stand By Your Man, Crystal Gayle, Wet Willie doing Keep On Smilin'
and Street Corner Serenade, John Prine, the Allman Brothers Band with Bonnie Bramlett performing
Rambin' Man, the Winters Brothers Band performing Sang Her Love Songs and I Can't Help It, Jim Dandy
& Black Oak Arkansas, Emmylou Harris, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band doing Mr Bojangles, and B.J. Thomas.
Carl Perkins usually performed his big hit Blue Suede Shoes, Link Ray played some mean guitar, the
late Ronnie Lane from Small Faces made an appearance, Little Richard removed his shirt and shoes
while performing only to throw them to the crowd, Alabama played some mountain music plus a few
ballads, a funny Rufus Thomas (with Al Kooper) did the Funky Chicken, and James Brown brought the
house down at one Jam performing I Feel Good and a medley of his other big hits.
People got excited when they would see people come out because they didn't know who was there and
over the years people would never know who would come out.
Volunteer Jam regulars included Jimmy Hall usually doing Keep On Smilin', Henry Paul (solo, Outlaws,
Blackhawk), Dobie Gray with his hit song Drift Away, Dickey Betts performing Ramblin' Man, the late
Toy Caldwell and George McCorkle usually doing Can't You See. Lynyrd Skynyrd's Artimus Pyle also
appeared at many of the Volunteer Jam concerts. (See the video's below)
The Volunteer Jam concerts at Starwood Ampthitheater began somewhere around Vol Jam XI (or XII)
and took place from the 1980's up until 2000 (the last). They have been the subject of documentary
television productions as well as a live appearance on the national broadcast of the Jerry Lewis Telethon.
Guests at the Starwood Jam's include Don Henley and J.D. Souther) doing Desperado & You're Only
Lonely, the late Stevie Ray Vaughan performing Superstitious, The Judds, a later version of the Marshall
Tucker Band, and Little Feat. Volunteer Jam XIII brought back Lynyrd Skynyrd in a second reunion since
the plane crash, with a paralyzed Allen Collins speaking to the crowd, not long before his death. This
Skynyrd show was the beginning of the new Lynyrd Skynyrd band featuring Johnny VanZant, which still
tours to this day. Other acts at the Starwood shows included John Kay from Steppenwolf doing Born To Be
Wild, Molly Hatchet flirtin' with disaster, the late Bill Monroe performing Blue Moon Of Kentucky,
Montgomery Gentry, 1950's idol Pat Boone, Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander playing piano,
Travis Tritt, plus Charlie Daniels and Garth Brooks performing Drinkin' My Baby Goodbye. Starwood,
also brought the first time the CDB performed Devil Went Down To Georgia, before a live crowd. The CDB
often showcased their new songs to the Vol Jam crowds. Starwood Amphitheater was torn down in 2007.
Volunteer Jam XVI on October 28, 1996 was held on Charlie Daniels birthday. This was a special
"acoustic jam" in Jackson Hall at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. Along with the Charlie Daniels
Band were Billy Ray Cyrus doing Achy Breaky Heart, Blackhawk (with the late Van Stephenson and
Artimus Pyle on the bongo's), Lorrie Morgan, David Ball, John Berry, Tracy Lawrence, John Michael
Montgomery, Tracy Byrd and many others. Longtime CDB guitarist Tommy Crane returned to the Jam,
as did guest Judy Van Zant and others in town for the "Freebird The Movie" premiere.
I have seen the best of the best, by attending these Volunteer Jam concerts. I thank Charlie and the band,
for giving me the opportunity to actually see and hear so many great artists and songs. Their were so many
performers that I can't recall many of them, after racking my brain, looking through Vol Jam memorabilia
and watching old Jam video's. In my opinion, the Volunteer Jam was the greatest regular event, growing up
I ran into Roy Acuff at Nashville's Rivergate Mall (food court) about a year before he died, and we talked
about Charlie Daniels and the Volunteer Jam, over a cup of coffee. The last time I saw Charlie Daniels,
we also spoke of the Volunteer Jam.
A 2007 Volunteer Jam was scheduled for Nashville but was cancelled, due to the closing of Starwood
Amphitheater. Daniels was quoted in 2007 as saying "We never had any idea how big it would become,
broadcasting it all around the world and on Voice of America. We thought it was a hometown thing.
We never realized it would become an international event." I hope to see more Nashville Volunteer Jam's
concerts in Nashville, in the future. As Charlie Daniels says "Ain't it good to be alive, and be in Tennessee."
Some of the information from this article came from Volunteer Jam/CDB memorablia, CD's & the DVD
Record World Magazine (November 9, 1974) wrote:
Charlie Daniels and his band recently recorded an album of material at a concert at the War Memorial
Auditorium in Nashville. The album featured not only Charlie's band, but a jam session with Dickie Betts,
of the Allman Brothers Band, Toy Caldwell (of Cowboy) & Paul Riddle from the Marshall Tucker Band, plus
others. The "others" included Joel (Taz) DiGregorio, piano player for the Daniels band, as well as guitarist
Barry Barnes, bassist Mark Fitzgerald and drummer Freddy Edwards of the Charlie Daniels Band.
Also playing were Jerry Eubanks of the Marshall Tucker Band, Artimus Pyle, Jamie Nichol, Sam McPherson,
and of course, Charlie Daniels. Portions of the Jam will be used on an album..... Pure "Southern Rock" mixed
with the funkiest versions of some old country songs you've ever laid your ears on should make the album
as good as the concert.
Rolling Stone Magazine (November 21, 1974) wrote:
"Ya'll stick around" boomed the voice of Charlie Daniels, who had just delivered a dynamic set with his
own band." We're going to have some people come out here, that can really play." When he reappeared
with Dickey Betts and about half of the Marshall Tucker Band, there was that unmistakable feeling of
good will let loose within the audience, and it snapped my head..... Joining him, his band and Betts on
stage for the Volunteer Jam were Toy Caldwell, Jerry Eubanks, Paul Riddle and Sam McPherson from
the Marshall Tucker Band, Artimus Pyle, who works in the studio with Lynyrd Sknyrd, and Jamie Nichol,
a young Nashville percussionist.
Performance Magazine - Municipal Auditorium Jam review:
Performance Magazine "The Proof Is In The Grooves. After the thunderous ovation, the crowd still
stood for a while, turning to each other and showing off their goosebumps. Heavee!"
Cashbox Magazine "From the 10,000 strong who braved icy winter winds, to the lavish Tennessee
Mountain Stage set and on down to the blistering, stock car speed and spunk of Southern Rock,
the atmosphere smelled of southern pride and heritage."
Charlie Daniels (founder) "Dedicated to the ten thousand souls who were such an important part
of the Volunteer Jam - THE AUDIENCE."
TennesseeConcerts Volunteer Jam & Charlie Daniels pages include:
Volunteer Jam Tribute www.tennesseeconcerts.com/voljam
Volunteer Jam 2000 www.tennesseeconcerts.com/marshalltuckerband
Charlie Daniels Band Pictures www.tennesseeconcerts.com/cdb
Lynyrd Skynyrd Tribute Pages www.tennesseeconcerts.com/freebirdplane
|Volunteer Jam TENNESSEE CONCERTS Nashville Tennessee
THE HISTORY OF THE VOLUNTEER JAM IN NASHVILLE
|Pat Adams & Charlie Daniels
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|Marshall Tucker Band's Toy Caldwell & George McCorkle
Can't You See from 1979 : The late Toy Caldwell & George McCorkle
from the Marshall Tucker Band at Volunteer Jam V in Nashville Tennessee.
Other players include Artimus Pyle from Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Charlie
Daniels Band. This was recorded at Nashville's Municipal Auditorium.
|Wet Willie (featuring Jimmy Hall) - Keep On Smilin'
Wet Willie live at the Volunteer Jam in Nashville Tennessee, around the late
70's (most likely). This video features Wet Willie live doing there biggest
hit Keep On Smilin' with Jimmy Hall on vocals at Nashville's Municipal
Auditorium. The Volunteer Jam was a Nashville yearly event (for the most
part) in the 1970's and 1980's hosted by Charlie Daniels & the CDB.
Jimmy Hall was a regular at these Volunteer Jam events.
|The Winters Brothers Band does "I Can't Help It"
1979 Volunteer Jam in Nashville Tennessee. Band members Include
Donnie Winters (guitar), Dennis Winters (vocals), Gene Watson (Bass) and
Bobby Miller (drums). Jamming with The Winters Brothers Band are the late
George McCorkle (Marshall Tucker Band), Taz (Charlie Daniels Band),
Freddy Edwards (Charlie Daniels Band) and southern rock persussionist
Jamie Nichols. This was from the (1979) Charlie Daniels Band
Volunteer Jam V at the Municipal Auditorium in Nashville.
|The Allman Brothers - Ramblin' Man
The Allman Brothers Band perform Ramblin Man with Bonnie Bramlett
at the Volunteer Jam in Nashville Tennessee, sometime in the late 70's,
at the Municipal Auditorium. Charlie Daniels introduces them.
|Lynyrd Skynyrd - 1st Reunion after the Plane Crash (1979)
Lynyrd Skynyrd's very first reunion after the 1977 Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash.
Surviving members of the band perform The Breeze with several members
of the Charlie Daniels Band at Volunteer Jam V in Nashville Tennessee at the
Municipal Auditorium in 1979. Skynyrd band members included Allen Collins,
Gary Rossington, Billy Powell, and Artimus Pyle. Leon Wilkeson still had a cast on
his arm and could not play, although he did come out on stage. Taz DiGregorio
from the Charlie Daniels Band sung on this version of The Breeze. Charlie Daniels
(the announcer) & Charlie Hayward from the CDB also played on this, as well as
conga player Jamie Nichols. The Nashville Volunteer Jam was an annual event
hosted by the Charlie Daniels Band in the 70's & 80's. This was the first song of
the first Lynyrd Skynyrd reunion, since the plane crash that killed 3 members.
See the follow-up to The Breeze from this concert: Freebird Part 1 Part 2
|RARE VOLUNTEER JAM
SOUTHERN ROCK VIDEOS
Typical of an old time Volunteer Jam
|The quality of the videos are not great,
but these are southern rock history.
If anyone owns these videos or songs,
let me know and I'll remove them
|Taz DiGregorio: We are saddened over the death of our friend Taz DiGregorio, long time keyboardist for the Charlie Daniels
Band. Taz was was recently killed in an auto accident just out side of Nashville. I had the pleasure of hanging out with Taz
several times and he was a very funny guy. I loved to hear him tell road stories of his adventures with the CDB. I regret that of
all the times I was around Taz, I never got a picture with him, or never got him to sign any of the CD's or posters that he gave
me. Taz asked me "Where in the world did you ever get that at????" after I posted a rare video from Volunteer V (1979)
of Taz singing The Breeze at the first reunion of Lynyrd Skynyrd (after the plane crash). I'm glad that I posted that video in
time for Taz to see it. Of all the many band members that have came & gone in the Charlie Daniels Band over the years,
Taz was there the whole time, since about 1970. He won a grammy as co-writer on the 1979 song Devil Went Down To
Georgia along with his band mates Charlie Daniels, Tommy Crain, Charlie Hayward, Freddy Edwards & James Marshall.
Taz and the band have had many hit singles & albums over the years, as well as playing concerts all over.
The memorial service was very moving. A celebration of life was held after the memorial with a musical tribute to Taz
including Souths Gonna Do It Again and other songs with Charlie Daniels, Travis Tritt, Joel DiGregorio (Taz's son),
Dennis & Donnie Winters (Winters Brothers Band) and others. Taz was well liked and will be missed by many people.
|The death of Charlie Daniels Band
keyboardist Taz DiGregorio
About The Volunteer Jam:
The Volunteer Jam, a multi genre musical extravaganza is one of Charlie Daniels’ best known
accomplishments. The legendary event began in 1974 at the War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville, TN as a
way of celebrating their first hometown sellout concert. The CDB invited numerous musical compadres to
stop by “and do some jamming.” Among those who dropped in were members of the Marshall Tucker Band
and The Allman Brothers Band. Recordings from this Jam are included on the CDB’s Fire On The Mountain
LP, and 100 radio stations aired one-hour tapes of the event. CDB songs at Jam I included “Whiskey,” “Long
Haired Country Boy,” “Trudy,” and “The South’s Gonna Do It, (Again).” This was the beginning of the
Homecoming concert tradition.
Volunteer Jam II (1975) took place at Murphy Center on the Middle Tennessee State University campus in
Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The first year’s 2400 revelers and 10,600 of their friends returned for another
advance sellout. The evening was documented in “Volunteer Jam,” the first Southern rock motion picture.
The aristocracy of Southern rock - The Marshall Tucker Band, Dickey Betts and Chuck Leavell of The
Allman Brothers Band, and Dru Lombar of Grinderswitch - “volunteered” with The CDB. Alvin Lee of Ten
Years After, Hee Haw regular Roni Stoneman, top ranked sessionmen Jamie Nichol and Karl Himmel, along
with Jimmy Hall of Wet Willie and Billy Joe Shaver were also among the performing guests. Taped broadcasts
were aired on 120 radio stations. At that time, “The South’s Gonna Do It (Again),” was a hit anthem on FM
radio and The CDB was enjoying popularity that would keep on building.
Volunteer Jam III moved to Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium in 1976 where the CDB’s homecoming concert
continued annually until 1985. Another advance sellout included mail orders from as far away as New York
and California. The rowdy bash attained the stature of a civic event inspiring mayoral and gubernatorial
proclamations. Radio coverage doubled the first year’s programmers. More than 250 stations aired two-hour
tapes of Volunteer Jam III via King Biscuit Radio Network.
In 1979 at VJ V, Lynyrd Skynyrd reunited for the first time since the 1977 plane crash for a tribute to the
legendary Skynyrd band.
Number Ten (1984) marked the Jam debut as an international media event. The CDB and more than 30 guest
artists entertained millions around the world via an unprecedented live Voice of America broadcast. The SRO
event was later aired as a two-hour TV special, produced by Dick Clark Productions, and syndicated by
Multimedia Entertainment. Television personalities Dick Clark, Byron Allen of NBC’s “Real People,” and
MTV’s deejay Alan Hunter were on hand.
Daniels, had no limit to the genre of music that was invited to perform at Vol Jams and the lineups included
rock, country bluegrass, gospel, soul, classical, comedy, and southern rock.
Other memorial moments at Vol Jam Municipal Auditorium concerts include performances by Billy Joel, Ted
Nugent and Molly Hatchet performing “Mississippi Queen.” Leon Russell, Mickey Gilley, Duane Eddy,
Woody Herman, and the Jordanaires made appearances as well as, Vince Gill, the late Nicolette Larson,
Dwight Yoakam, the late Papa John Creach, and Willie Nelson singing his classic “Crazy.”
The list goes on. Other historic performances included Soloman Burke, Sea Level, Eddie Rabbit, Poco, the
Oak Ridge Boys, B. B. King, Delbert McClinton, Ray Price, ( “For the Good Times,”) Roy Acuff, Amy
Grant, John Prine, Bonnie Bramlett, Emmlou Harris, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Carl Perkins. When
Little Richard removed his shirt and shoes while performing, the crowd went wild. James Brown brought the
house down when he performed “I Feel Good,” along with a medley of his hits. The crowd never knew who
would appear next.
Vol Jams took place at Starwood Amphitheater in Nashville, TN from 1986 to 1992 and were the subject of
documentary tv productions as well as a live appearance on the national broadcast of the Jerry Lewis
Telethon. Guest at Starwood Jams included Don Henley and J.D. Souther performing “Desperado and “You’
re Only Lonely.”
Volunteer Jam XIII brought back Lynyrd Skynyrd for a 2nd reunion with a paralyzed Allen Collins speaking
to the crowd, not long before his passing. Pat Boone performed, and Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander
played piano, while Travis Tritt, and Garth Brooks joined CDB on “Drinkin’ My Baby Goodbye.”
Volunteer Jam XVI was the last of the official Vol Jam concerts held on Oct. 28, 1996 at the Tennessee
Performing Arts Center in Nashville. The first ever acoustic Volunteer Jam, commemorated Charlie Daniels’
60th birthday. Joining Charlie for a very special birthday party included David Ball, John Berry, Tracy Byrd,
Billy Ray Cyrus, Tracy Lawrence, David Lee Murphy, Victoria Shaw, Jimmy Hall & Lorrie Morgan.
|From Charlie Daniels website