Asheville residents who may not know much about the music of Warren Haynes are usually at least familiar with his name as the creator of the annual Warren Haynes Christmas Jam, held each year for the past 23 in the musician’s hometown. The 2012 Jam is scheduled for December 15 at Asheville’s U.S. Cellular Center with a few of the acts including Blind Boys of Alabama, Sheryl Crow, The String Cheese Incident, and others.
Warren came to Asheville April 15, 2012, as part of the current Warren Haynes Band tour. The concert, held downtown at The Orange Peel, was a convenient stop for Warren, who was also able to take care of some business the following day. On April 16, Warren was part of a groundbreaking for the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity 2011 Christmas Jam House. Warren joined the Habitat staff and supporters to welcome Michelle Bevans and her children home during a ceremonial key presentation and house dedication.
While fans of his music certainly appreciate Warren’s philanthropic deeds, they were most excited to hear the legendary guitarist and underappreciated singer to jam the night away. And that he did. Playing two sets, Warren led a show that lasted about three hours with no opening act. Backed by a fabulous collection of musicians, Warren and the band rocked each song for an average of nearly 10 minutes each. Current jam bands can thank Warren for helping to create the now-popular style.
Playing his blend of blues and Southern rock occasionally mixed with just a bit of funk, Warren poured his heart into the show that took place just more than a week after his 52nd birthday. Remembered as a long-time guitarist for The Allman Brothers Band, Warren was also a founding member of Gov’t Mule.
The show opened with the Gov’t Mule standard “Tear Me Down,” after which Warren exclaimed that it was good to be back in his hometown. “We’ve got a long night ahead,” Warren added, “I hope you’re in a good mood.” And with that the band cranked up again.
Still promoting the album Man in Motion, released nearly a year prior to the show, that album took a prominent role in the evening’s activities. Man in Motion produced songs in the show such as “River’s Gonna Rise,” “A Friend to You,” “Take a Bullet,” “Man in Motion,” “Hattiesburg Hustle,” “On a Real Lonely Night,” and “Sick of My Shadow.”
Warren also peppered in some of his classic standbys such as “Power and the Glory” and “Invisible.” One true show-stopper was a cover of the Sam Cooke legendary tune “A Change Is Gonna Come.” The song allowed the group’s two other vocalists to shine in spine-tingling fashion. Vocalist Alecia Chakour was spectacular as was Nigel Hall, who also did a fabulous job on keys throughout the night.
Ron Holloway (sax), Ron Johnson (bass), and Terence Higgins (drums) rounded out the main band, though a few other musicians would occasionally pop onto the stage. It should be noted, too, that Terence offered a couple of fantastic drum solos that had the crowd cheering wildly.
Warren Haynes and his band rocked The Peel like everyone expected with tight musicianship and long jams. His guitar work, of course, was masterful. Perhaps the talent of the band overall even managed to surpass expectations.
It was great to have Warren back in Asheville for a show other than the Christmas Jam. In addition to the concert, Warren enjoyed celebrating the completion of the 2011 Xmas Jam House, which was built in part by 100 volunteers plus 200 hours of sweat equity from homeowner Michelle Bevans. Haynes also presented Habitat with a check from the from his charitable fund, which has now give a cumulative total well-past the $1 million mark.
We’ll see you in December, Warren.
The Warren Haynes Band is now offering a new DVD/CD called Live at the Moody Theater. For more information about his album, the new DVD, or anything else about Warren, visit warrenhaynes.net.