Since the first Volunteer Jam with Charlie Daniels in 1974, a few things have changed, but one thing has remained: celebrating the generous spirit of southern rock – with a few surprises.
“Ain’t it good to be alive, and to be in Tennessee?” – Charlie Daniels
This year’s special event raised more than $200,000 for the Journey Home Project, a non-profit organization co-founded by Charlie Daniels to connect donors with veterans organizations. Proceeds will also benefit the Nashville Predators Foundation.
The almost 5-hour-long concert was a “who’s who” of legendary musical artists. Joe Bonsall of the Oak Ridge Boys quipped, “We’ve got more acts tonight than are running for president!”
Craig Morgan noted that the 40th Anniversary Volunteer Jam “is a piece of history.” Surprise guests included Eric Church, Lynyrd Skynrd, Blackberry Smoke, and Jamey Johnson, who were in addition to the guests already on the bill: Ted Nugent, Trace Adkins, Alabama, Terri Clark, Billy Ray Cyrus, Colt Ford, The Grascals, Lee Greenwood, The Kentucky Headhunters, Tracy Lawrence, The Oak Ridge Boys, Ryan Weaver, Wynonna, Craig Morgan, Lee Roy Parnell, Billy Dean, Michael W. Smith, Travis Tritt, Phil Vassar, and Montgomery Gentry.
Lee Greenwood, known for the patriotic classic “God Bless the USA,” kicked off the show and set the tone for the night. Greenwood described Charlie Daniels as not only a “big brother” figure, but also as “a perfect lesson in how to live.” Numerous other artists echoed those sentiments throughout the night, revering Daniels’ musical talents and warm spirit.
But when it comes down to defining the music, it’s all about the spirit and authenticity.
Blackberry Smoke describes southern rock as “musical freedom,” while Ted Nugent talked about how he loves the “attitude and spirit” of the music. Billy Dean brought the discussion to contemporary country music, and how he feels that acts like Florida-Georgia Line are unjustly criticized for making music that is authentic to who they are.
In addition to the music, the main message of the event was about supporting veterans when they transition back to civilian life. Conservative talk show host Sean Hannity co-hosted the event alongside SiriusXM “The Highway” host Storme Warren. Throughout the night, they recognized military servicemen and women, including two Benghazi survivors, whose story will be portrayed in an upcoming movie called “13 Hours – Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.” The title sponsor of the 40th Anniversary Volunteer Jam, Henry Repeating Arms, presented a $200,000 check on stage to The Journey Home Project.
For more information about how you can get involved with the non-profit, visit www.thejourneyhomeproject.org.