Warren Haynes Xmas Jam | 12.12 & 13

Words by: Jason Bugg | Images by: Willa Stein

Warren Haynes Christmas Jam :: 12.13.08 - 12.14.08 :: Asheville Civic Center :: Asheville, NC

Warren Haynes & John Paul Jones - Xmas Jam 2008
The concrete and steel of the Asheville Civic Center may reek of a concert venue past its prime, out of date and sorely in need of repair, but for the duration of the 20th Annual Warren Haynes Christmas Jam the unwelcoming and dank building took the form of a sawdust-on-the-floor blues shack, a church pew, a campfire and a multitude of other forms of transformative musical power.

Along the way through the two eight-plus-hour concerts, the music featured inside took twists and turns that left the resulting setlists reading like holiday wish lists: The Allman Brothers Band playing Led Zeppelin songs with John Paul Jones on bass guitar? Check. The Del McCoury Band and The Lee Boys finding the intersection of black gospel and lilywhite bluegrass? Check. Metal band Coheed and Cambria playing a laid-back, beautiful version of "I Shall Be Released?" Check. Mere hyperbole doesn't do the two nights justice.

Friday, 12.12.08

The Friday evening show began with a hot opening set by Gov't Mule, and it set the tone for the evening: funky, blistering and ready for anything. Warren Haynes and company showed that even though there were bigger bands on the bill, they were the hosts of the party. Haynes in particular showed the range and power of his voice through the all-to-brief performance.

Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk blasted onto the stage with a relentless set of head bobbing, audience rousing funk. Never afraid to go too far, Neville and company bashed out a collection of songs that left the audience exhausted and breathless just a short hour into the concert. A rousing version of Sly and the Family Stone's "Thank You Falletime Be Mice Elf (Again)" closed out their section of the evening with an exclamation point.

Osborne, Tritt & Del McCoury - Xmas Jam 2008
Bluegrass icon Del McCoury may have been an odd choice to follow the frenetic funk of Ivan Neville, but the old time swing of his band (augmented by John Paul Jones on mandolin) seemed to allow the audience a chance to breathe while still keeping the party going. Joining McCoury was Joan Osborne and Travis Tritt on the timeless "Old Kentucky Shore." Tritt and Osborne's contributions may have been enough to leave listeners wowed and satisfied, but the appearance of The Lee Boys for a performance of "Celebrate" was one of the highlights of the first night's show. The merging of the soulful gospel of The Lee Boys and the traditional bluegrass of McCoury left the audience begging for more. On a night full of musical magic, McCoury and The Lee Boys may have out David Copperfield-ed even the most astute aural magicians.

However, John Paul Jones and his mandolin may have been the biggest star of the evening. His guest spot with McCoury was a surprise, but his performance of "Soulshine" and Zeppelin's "Going to California" with Haynes on acoustic guitar and vocals left audiences panting and chomping at the bit.

Derek Trucks also made an appearance and showed why he may be the most tasteful, impressive guitarist around, playing effortless slide guitar throughout his own material and a rousing version of Derek and the Dominoes' "Anyday" featuring his wife Susan Tedeschi on lead vocals.

But the star of the first evening was The Allman Brothers Band. Their rough-and-tumble jamming and blues playing was enough to bring the by then exhausted audience to their feet. Starting just after 3 a.m. and closing the show about an hour later, the band powered through song after song, which culminated in an awesome combination punch of Zeppelin's "Dazed and Confused" and the Allman's "Mountain Jam." The exhausting performance was highlighted not by Trucks, Haynes or a sitting in on bass guitar Jones, but by Gregg Allman's powerful mastery of the Hammond organ. On a night of guitar pyrotechnics, the wet, rolling sound of the organ somehow cooled the flames.


Gregg Allman - Xmas Jam 2008
GOV'T MULE: Brighter Days, Like Flies, Bad Little Doggie, Blind Man In The Dark, Sco-Mule (w/ Tal Wilkenfeld on bass and Robben Ford on guitar), Fallen Down (w/ Karl Denson on sax)

IVAN NEVILLE'S DUMPSTAPHUNK: Gasman, Mean While, She's Music, Livin In A World Gone Bad (w/ Matt Grondin & Karl Denson), Badboy (w/ Warren Haynes & Eric Krasno), Thank You Falletime Be Mice Elf w/ Tal Wilkenfeld, Eric Krasno, Warren Haynes, Danny Louis)

DEL MCCOURY BAND: 1952 Vincent Black Lightning, Squirrel Hunter (w/ John Paul Jones), Little Georgia Rose (w/ Travis Tritt), Old Kentucky Shore (w/ Joan Osborne & Travis Tritt), My Love Will Not Change (w/ John Paul Jones), Celebrate (w/ The Lee Boys)

JOAN OSBORNE: To The One I Love, Hallelujah, Cathedrals, Help Me (w/ Warren Haynes), Christmas Time In New Orleans (w/ Ron Holloway)

TRAVIS TRITT: Homesick, Leave My Girl Alone, I Walk The Line, Pickin' At It Anymore, Pressure is On (w/ Warren Haynes), Movin On Over (w/ Warren Haynes)

WARREN HAYNES & JOHN PAUL JONES: Soulshine, Going To California

THE DEREK TRUCKS BAND: Down In The Flood, These Days, Can't Sleep At Night (w/ Susan Tedeschi), People, Anyday (w/ Susan Tedeschi & Eric Krasno)

ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND: Don't Want You, Cross To Bear, I Walk on Guilded Splinters, Statesboro Blues, Stone Me (w/ JJ Grey), Who's Been Talking (w/ Robben Ford & Ivan Neville), Dreams (w/ Karl Denson), In Memory of Elizabeth Reed (w/ Tal Wilkenfeld), The Weight (w/ Ron Holloway, Danny Louis, Susan Tedeschi, Ruthie Foster), Mountain Jam Intro, Dazed & Confused (w/ John Paul Jones), Mountain Jam (w/ John Paul Jones)
ENCORE: One Way Out w/ Roosevelt Collier & JJ Grey

Continue reading for Saturday coverage...

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