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Published: 2007/06/25
by Brian Ferdman

The Charlie Daniels Band Volunteer Jam

Eagle Rock
For most people, knowledge of The Charlie Daniels Band begins and ends with his iconic song, The Devil Went Down to Georgia. Some may even know of Daniels recent Open Letter to the Hollywood Bunch, in which the born-again Christian stated a strident defense of George W. Bushs Iraq policy. However, political headlines and hit single aside, Daniels proficiency on the guitar and the red-hot Southern Rock band he led in the mid-1970s are not as well known, but that very well may change after viewing the excellent new DVD release, Volunteer Jam.
The first Volunteer Jam took place in 1974 at Nashvilles War Memorial Auditorium, and 1975s edition considerably stepped up in size, moving to and selling out the Murphy Center at Middle Tennessee State University. The idea was unique for its time: fans knew they would be getting a concert by The Charlie Daniels Band, but they also knew there would be a littany of surprise guests, heroes from the pantheon of Southern Rock. As luck would have it, the 1975 concert featured Dicky Betts, Chuck Leavell, Jimmy Hall, the entire Marhsall Tucker Band, and many more. The event was filmed by a full crew and released as the First Southern Rock Motion Picture in 1976.
From the start, prodigious guitar and songwriting skills are on full display with Daniels jumping into some dueling runs up and down his axe on Birmingham Blues. His Long-Haired Country Boy is a grinding anthem to the pot-smoking southern rebels of his day, and No Place to Go is a jazzy number that evokes shades of In Memory of Elizabeth Reed. Daniels whips out a nasty slide on the hard-rocking Funky Junky before picking up his signature fiddle to dive into the frenzied rockabilly of Texas and the swinging paen to his fellow pot-smoking Southern rebels, The Souths Gonna Do It (Again). Then Daniels really ups the ante on a crazed and speedy take on the classic Orange Blossom Special.
Just when his band is firing on all cylinders, Daniels takes the evening up yet another notch by bringing out the entire Marshall Tucker Band to tear up Twenty-Four Hours. Then Dickey Betts and other guests join in the fray for the last few songs which become monster jam sessions with guitar trios, piano duels, and horns a-plenty. By the time the final note of Mountain Dew is played, a lesson in the history of Southern Rock has been completed, and Charlie Daniels rightly assumes his place among the greats.

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