Charlie Daniels Band (tracks 1-8):; Charlie Daniels - guitar, fiddle, vocals; Tom Crain - guitar, vocals; Taz DiGregorio - keyboards, vocals; Fred Edwards - drums, percussion; James W. Marshall - drums, percussion; Charles Hayward - bass; Willie Nelson & Family (tracks 9-11): Willie Nelson - vocals, guitar; Bonnie Bramlett - vocals; Mickey Raphael - harmonica; Mylon Lefevre - vocals, guitar; Jody Payne - guitar; Bob Nelson - piano; Chris Ethridge - bass; Paul English - drums;; The Outlaws (track 12): Billy Jones -guitar, vocals; Henry Paul - guitar, vocals; Hughie Thomasson - acoustic guitar, vocals; Harvey Dalton Arnold - bass, vocals; Monte Yoho - drums
By 1977, Charlie Daniel's Volunteer Jam concert had established itself as an annual tradition. That January, the third annual Volunteer Jam took place at Nashville's Municipal Auditorium and featured a veritable who's who of southern rock, country and bluegrass musicians all on the same stage. The King Biscuit Flower Hour recording engineers were on hand to document the event and choice highlights from that memorable night were aired across North America several weeks later. Here we present three of the most engaging sequences from that night, including eight high energy numbers by The Charlie Daniels Band, another five songs from Willie Nelson & Family, plus the Outlaws closing things out with their magnum opus, "High Tides And Green Grass."
The recording begins with an extended sequence from host Charlie Daniels and his band. In 1977, The Charlie Daniels Band was riding high on the success of two albums released the previous year, Saddle Tramp and High Lonesome, which featured their unique brand of rock, country, blues and even jazz progressions fusing into a brand of Southern rock that was uniquely their own, appealing to rock and country fans alike. Although Daniels' aggressive fiddle playing and consummate musicianship was certainly the driving force, it was arguably the musical chemistry between Daniels and guitarist Tom Crain that was responsible for the group becoming such trendsetters. Not surprisingly, this set focuses heavily on material from those two albums, which will be welcomed by all fans of this classic era of the group, and the set is fleshed out with three of the key songs from the group's groundbreaking 1974 album, Fire On The Mountain.
The CDB kick things off with "Sweet Louisiana," a strong bluesy romp featuring Crain on slide guitar, followed by keyboardist Taz DiGregorio's rollicking "Roll Mississippi." Two songs that exemplify the proud Southern attitude are next with back-to-back versions of the punchy "It's My Life" ("It's my life. God was the one to give it, Ain't nobody gonna tell me how to live it!") and the mega-hit song of independence and survival, "Long Haired Country Boy." The highly evocative title track from the newest album, "High Lonesome" follows, giving the audience a taste of the bluesier side of the band, before they really cut loose.
With the audience captivated, Daniels and band seize the opportunity to stretch their musical muscles and the set becomes a tour-de-force performance from here on out. The Tommy Crain penned "Cumberland Mountain Number 9" is Daniels and Crain at their best and features outstanding guitar/fiddle workouts before the entire band tears it up on the most frenetic fiddling frenzy tune of all time, "Orange Blossom Special." To close their set, the CDB display their unabashed patriotism and pride in their Southern music compadres with "The South's Gonna Do It Again," a song that for obvious reasons resonates deeply with the Nashville audience.
At this point, Charlie Daniels turns the stage over to one of the most iconoclastic figures and songwriters in American music, Willie Nelson. At the time, Nelson was performing with an ever-changing lineup known collectively as Willie Nelson & Family and on this night, his family not only included his core band, but was also augmented by singers Bonnie Bramlett and Mylon LeFevre. Nelson kicks off his portion by paying tribute to one of his influences, Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys, with a high-energy romp through their classic "Stay All Night (Stay A Little Longer)," giving the Volunteer Jam the feel of a massive barn dance. This segues directly into the songwriting collaboration between Nelson and Waylon Jennings, "Good Hearted Woman," before concluding with an extended medley containing three of Nelson's most important songs. This medley begins with the lovely "Funny How Time Slips Away," before segueing directly into the massive crossover hit he penned for Patsy Cline back in 1963, "Crazy," and concluding with the first song to bring his songwriting to widespread attention, "Nightlife," which became a smash hit for Ray Price in 1961. Its a pure delight to hear these classic songs sung by the man himself and despite many in the audience being too young to remember the original hit cover versions, they thoroughly embrace Nelson's performance.
To close out the highlights from Volunteer Jam #3, Daniels introduces the Tampa, Florida band, The Outlaws to the stage. They close things out by performing one of the all time Southern rock classics, "Green Grass & High Tides." Clocking in at 15 minutes, one could hardly ask for more, as it's a blazing performance that lays the original studio recording to waste. The extended triple guitar interplay between Jones, Paul and Thommason is nothing short of extraordinary. This performance makes it abundantly clear why this number became a classic FM radio staple that has stood the test of time. The Outlaws blend all their best elements here, with engaging vocal harmonies and an arrangement that builds and builds into a frenetic guitar workout of epic proportions.
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