Charlie Daniels on His Volunteer Jam: ‘It’s a Special Show to Us’
Charlie Daniels has spent much of his career giving back through his all-star Volunteer Jam concerts. In a recent interview with The Boot, the recent Country Music Hall of Fame inductee recalled how he started the Volunteer Jam in 1974 as a way to give back to others.
"We were doing an album called Fire on the Mountain, and we wanted to do two live cuts," Daniels recalls. "We booked War Memorial Auditorium. We sold it out; they broadcast it locally. I casually invited some friends of mine to come up and jam with us that first year."
That first Volunteer Jam included appearances by Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers Band and Toy Caldwell, Jerry Eubanks and Paul Riddle from the Marshall Tucker Band, which was a surprise to the show's attendees.
"Both of those bands were as hot as firecrackers in Nashville," Daniels notes, "and we didn’t tell anybody they were there."
From there, Daniels says, the Volunteer Jam "took on a life of its own, basically."
"It’s hard to articulate something like that; I’ve seen things like that happen a few times in my life," he remembers. "It became very obvious that it was something we should do again. And even after it was over, we had sold out, and people who couldn’t get in and people who could get in were talking about what a great show it was.
"Next year, we went to the Murphy Center in Murfreesboro, with 13,000 seats," Daniels adds. "It proved to be that way, and it did that for a lot of years."
Throughout the Volunteer Jam's more than 40 years, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Garth Brooks, Billy Joel, Alabama, Wynonna Judd, Trace Adkins, Montogmery Gentry and many others have participated, making it one of the most star-studded events of the year.
"It’s a special show to us," Daniels admits. "It’s our unique show. We originated something, we nurtured it, we kept doing it all those years."
The 2016 Volunteer Jam -- the 42nd Volunteer Jam -- will be held at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on Nov. 30; tickets for the event are available through Ticketmaster. Proceeds from Volunteer Jam concerts benefit the Journey Home Project, a non-profit organization co-founded by Daniels and his manager, David Corlew, which helps veterans transition after returning home from tours abroad.
See Photos From the 2015 Volunteer Jam