Interview | Warren Haynes and the Never-Empty Calendar

JAMBASE: Who’s at the top of your wishlist of Christmas Jam participants who you haven’t yet hosted?

WH: I’ve been talking to Bonnie Raitt a bunch, very recently actually. I hope she’s able to do it and I’m very honored she’s expressed interest.

JAMBASE: There are a bunch of eye-catchers on the bill at this year’s Jam so I wanted to ask you about a few in particular. Mule played with John Scofield at those famous Georgia shows all the way back in 1999 but fans still clamor for that collaboration and how fun you’re doing it again now. Why do you think that is?

WH: John is my favorite modern jazz guitar player – what I’d refer to as post-John McLaughlin modern jazz guitar players. There are so many wonderful players out there, but he’s the cat I enjoy the most. We’re good friends.

Playing with him is kind of like when people talk about trees growing and pushing together: he tends to play a little more rock and I tend to play a little more jazz and we’re all just so interested in being on stage together and people feel that.

That opportunity we had in ’99 was very special and I’m still looking forward to putting out that live record from the Atlanta show. Maybe this will be be a way of kickstarting that. Especially with [Gov’t Mule’s] 20th anniversary next year, there’s a lot of cool stuff we’re excited to put out.

JAMBASE: Will come back to that in a minute. Warren, by the time our readers see this you’ll have wrapped another set of dates with Phil Lesh at Terrapin Crossroads and will be just ahead of another Q reunion at Christmas Jam. I’ve asked Jimmy Herring and Rob Barraco in recent months about what made the Q special but I’d love your take.

WH: When a chemistry comes together in an uncanny way is something you can’t predict. You put a bunch of musicians – good musicians – in a room together, and you just don’t know if they’ll have amazing chemistry or if that will develop or it won’t.

With the Q, it happened right from the beginning and a lot of it was the blend of personalities. Myself and Jimmy Herring were similar enough to play well together and the more we played together the more we could read each other’s thoughts and finish each other’s statements. All of us all really enjoyed each other’s company and that was a big part of it.

JAMBASE: Do you expect to play more with Phil in the new year?

WH: I hope so, yeah.

JAMBASE: You’ve done lots of interviews about Shout! and how all the guest performers came to be involved so I won’t retread there. But with the 20th anniversary coming up, is it safe to say you’ll be busy with Mule in the new year?

WH: Yeah, we have a big year ahead of us. We’re very proud of Shout! – it represents what we’re about and is a nice culmination of all the genres of music that influence Gov’t Mule. Next year will be a year when those two things – our 20th anniversary and Shout! – really kind of come together.

JAMBASE: Can you talk about what you’re planning?

WH: We would encourage as much collaborating as possible with the guest artists that are on Shout!. I’d love to have a few key shows where we get a bunch of them together. The door’s always open for them to join us anyway, but I’d like to see that happen.

JAMBASE: Are you planning to put out more archival Mule material? The Georgia Bootleg Box did well.

WH: That was something I was really proud of: a cool snapshot of what the band was then, when our repertoire was small but the band was growing exponentially. Yeah, I suspect we will.

JAMBASE: What kinds of stuff? Will you key in on another Mule era like you did with the Georgia box?

WH: Oh, there’s audio and video from the Deep End anniversary shows, the Deepest End shows and the one from five years later. There’s outtakes from the Deep End studio recordings we want to look at. There’s a lot of stuff.

JAMBASE: You have a well-deserved reputation for turning up as a sit-in guest, and also doing plenty with different bands. I remember years ago you telling reporters you never want to look back and think you’d missed an opportunity. But you’re also a dad now and I imagine you want to be home with your family as much as possible. So how do you balance that?

WH: If I’m not working, I’m doing family. That’s that. If there’s something really special that I want to be a part of then I will, but at the end of a nice little run of shows, I’m doing family.

JAMBASE: Can your boy play slide yet?

WH: No, no, not yet!

JAMBASE: Well it sounds like you’ll have a typically full plate for the next 12 months. Anything else we can highlight? I know the Boston Pops are inviting you back for a return engagement on the Jerry Garcia Symphonic Celebration….

WH: Yes, and I hope that will turn into some more shows doing that. I don’t know just yet, there are only so many days in the year. But it’s going to be busy. We have the 20th anniversary of Gov’t Mule and the 45th anniversary of the Allman Brothers, so you know it will be.

[Published on: 12/11/13]

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