Last night a sold out crowd of concert goers went wild at the 40th Anniversary celebration of the legendary Charlie Daniels Volunteer Jam. Seven time Grammy-nominee country star, Eric Church, iconic Southern rock group, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Blackberry Smoke made bombshell, unannounced appearances to honor U.S. military members and veterans. The celebration took place at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.
Making waves in the music world in recent years with their blend of Southern Rock and country, ‘Blackberry Smoke’ was the first surprise of the evening. And that was just the beginning, country mega-star, Eric Church, busted out on the stage in the midst of Daniels’ crowd-pleasing performance of “In America,” joining Daniels for an electrifying duet. Though both Daniels and Church hail from the state of North Carolina, the two had never before shared the stage, giving the crowd the chance to witness a captivating inaugural moment.
Charlie Daniels was a giant influence in my musical DNA,” Church said after the performance. “What he has done with the Volunteer Jam is honorable. What he has done in music is iconic. He is a gentleman and a patriot, and it was my honor to be in his presence.”
Ensuring the Jam stayed enthralling to the very end, Lynyrd Skynyrd made their electrifying entrance near the end of the night and closed out the final hour of the extravaganza with some of their iconic hits like “Simple Man,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Free Bird,” “Gimme Three Steps,” and more.
Jamey Johnson also showed up late in the event, surprising concert-goers, once again.
On top of the four surprise guests, scheduled acts of the evening included The Charlie Daniels Band, 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, Montgomery Gentry, Natalie Stovall And The Drive and Blackberry Smoke, for a jam-packed line-up to remember.
For something that started out 40 years ago as a one-time thing a few blocks from here at War Memorial Auditorium and here we are (today) still doing it, it’s pretty special,” Daniels said of Wednesday night’s milestone jam. “It is a big night.”
Former Blackhawk pilot, U.S. veteran and rising country star, Ryan Weaver, received the most emotional applause of the evening with a performance and moving video tribute to his brother and brother-in-law, who were both lost in combat in the War on Iraq.
A benefit for U.S. Military veterans and their families, the 40th Anniversary Charlie Daniels Volunteer Jam raised hundreds of thousands in proceeds for the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, The Journey Home Project. It was co-founded by Daniels and his manager David Corlew, seeks to connect donors with veterans’ organizations that do the most good in meeting the health care, education and career needs of military servicemen and women and their families. Additional concert proceeds will benefit the Nashville Predators Foundation.
For more information on Charlie Daniels, please visit www.charliedaniels.com.
For more on The Journey Home Project, visit www.thejourneyhomeproject.org.