Blue Hat Records didn’t just release a live Charlie Daniels Band album today. They put out a musical time machine and sent us all into the past. Putting on this album is like going back in time nearly fifty years to the first-ever Volunteer Jam in Nashville. For Southern rock and country fans, this one is a can’t-miss record.
Today, many fans look back at Volunteer Jam as an iconic concert series. For years, the Charlie Daniels Band and others would gather in Music City for a celebration of Southern rock and country music. After Charlie passed away, the Jam became a memorial for the fiddle-playing legend. However, that wasn’t the plan. Instead, CDB put on the first Jam to get a couple of live cuts for their 1974 album Fire on the Mountain.
That album is featured heavily on Volunteer Jam 1 – 1974: The Legend Begins. Half of the 12 tracks are from Fire on the Mountain. The rest are covers of stone-cold classics like Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya” and “Stay a Little Longer” by Bob Wills or originals from earlier records.
The Charlie Daniels Band Was Still Wild
If you hear some songs on more recent Charlie Daniels Band compilations, you’ll find that they “cleaned up” the lyrics a little bit. For instance, the Devil is no longer a “son of b*tch” in newer releases of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” Additionally, the long-haired country boy no longer gets drunk in the morning nor does he get stoned in the afternoon. On this recording though, we get the old CDB. They’re wild, Southern rockers with country roots. This, some would say, is the band at its best.
They weren’t alone on the stage that night either. Some other Southern rock royalty joined the Charlie Daniels band for the first Volunteer Jam. On the album, you’ll hear the late Marshall Tucker Band lead guitarist/songwriter Toy Caldwell and MTB drummer Paul Riddle. Additionally, you can hear founding member of the Allman Brothers Dickey Betts.
To say that the lineup for that first Volunteer Jam was star-studded would be an understatement. It reads like a list of Southern rock royalty.
A Big Day for Music History
The Charlie Daniels Band played the first Volunteer Jam on October 4, 1974. While it was supposed to be a one-off gig, it sparked a tradition that would last decades. When you listen to this album, you can begin to understand why. A fraction of the power that they put out that night filters through the speakers nearly five decades later and it is epic.
Blue Hat Records president and longtime Charlie Daniels Band manager spoke about the inaugural Volunteer Jam in a press release for the album. “The Volunteer Jam was a magical evening. There was no other event like it. There never has been and will never be.”