A huge collection of country music’s best and brightest gathered together to pay tribute to Charlie Daniels at Volunteer Jam XX on Wednesday night (March 7) in Nashville, and though the entire evening had a once-in-a-lifetime feel to it, a few performances stood out above all of the others.
Charlie Daniels Band, Alabama, Chris Young, Alison Krauss, Jamey Johnson, Chris Janson, the Oak Ridge Boys, Blackberry Smoke, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top and more took the stage at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville for the event, which had a special theme in 2018. The 2018 Volunteer Jam celebrated 20 years by having each performer pay tribute to Daniels with cover songs, and the entire evening was taped for a future TV concert special.
Bobby Bare, Justin Moore, Ricky Skaggs, Eddie Montgomery, Lee Brice, Sara Evans and Travis Tritt were also among the stars who performed, backed by an all-star band. Daniels and his longtime band took the stage last, and the evening ended with an all-hands-on-stage jam on “One Way Out” to mark what will surely be remembered as a special evening even as compared to past Volunteer Jams.
Here are the top performances of the night from Volunteer Jam XX:
Chris Janson, “(What This World Needs Is) A Few More Rednecks”
— The BIG 98 (@98WSIX) March 8, 2018
Introduced as a “human hummingbird” by emcee Storme Warren, Janson wasted no time demonstrating why that was an apt analogy. The “Drunk Girl” singer careened around the stage like he had springs in both shoes, giving the hands-down most visually entertaining performance of the night with “(What This World Needs Is) A Few More Rednecks,” topping the high-energy performance off with a jaw-dropping harmonica solo that he played one-handed while gesturing wildly at the crowd with his free hand.
Justin Moore, “Simple Man”
Moore is about as close to Daniels’ unflinching embrace of traditional southern values as any performer in contemporary country music, and his performance of “Simple Man” was a perfect match of singer and material. Watching Moore sing lines like, “Now I’m the kinda man that’d not harm a mouse / But if I catch somebody breaking in my house / I’ve got a twelve gauge shotgun waiting on the other side,” it would have been easy to believe that he was performing his own brand-new single, instead of a song that was a hit in 1989. The fact that it resonated so strongly with fans at the Bridgestone on Wednesday night is as much a testament to the staying power of Daniels’ best songs as much as it is to Moore’s impassioned performance.
Chris Young, “Drinkin’ My Baby Goodbye”
If the average country music fan were to sit down and make up a comprehensive list of all the country stars they’d think would be great at covering Charlie Daniels, Chris Young might not be among the most obvious choices. But they’d be wrong. Young took the stage at Volunteer Jam XX to deliver a scorching, barroom-ready cover of “Drinkin’ My Baby Goodbye” that was easily among the best pure vocal performances of the night.
Young comes by the rough-and-ready feel of the song honestly; he told the fans on Wednesday that he used to play it in his old bar band, and of course, he famously performed it on TV during his career-making winning run on Nashville Star in 2006. According to the tweet above, Young also made the scene backstage, hanging out with a few friends that included Janson and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Alabama, “The South’s Gonna Do It”
It’s certainly no surprise that Alabama would turn up at a tribute to Charlie Daniels, but their rollicking version of “The South’s Gonna Do It” was a revelation. At an age when many legacy acts are just shells of their former selves, going through the motions, the genre-changing superstars still have the fire and the edgy mix of rock and country that propelled their greatest hits and changed the face of country music in the process. As an added surprise, guitarist Jeff Cook was on hand to join his bandmates in a rare public appearance since he announced he was retiring from touring due to Parkinson’s Disease.
Alison Krauss and Ricky Skaggs, “Blessed Assurance”
Alison Krauss teamed up with Ricky Skaggs, Sam Bush, Jamey Johnson, Don Was and Becky Isaacs of the Isaacs for what may very well go down as one of the most special live moments in Volunteer Jam history. They took the crowd at the Bridgestone Arena to church with a gorgeous, powerful rendition of the gospel classic “Blessed Assurance” that was so spellbinding, you could have heard a proverbial pin drop in the massive Bridgestone Arena.
The one-of-a-kind musical moment seems not to have emerged online yet, but the above video appears to have captured the same song in rehearsals. It’s a stellar song that Daniels has also recorded, and it not only represented the faith-based side of his life and music, its musical simplicity and emotional vulnerability stood as a reminder that no matter what trends may come and go, certain musical traditions are meant to last forever.
See Pictures From Charlie Daniels’ Country Music Hall of Fame Exhibit
This Article Was Originally Posted at www.TasteofCountry.com