Billy & The Kids & Govt Mule Highlight 26th Christmas Jam

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Words & Photo By: Stu Kelly

The 26th annual Christmas Jam was a wide-ranging success as the diverse lineup of musicians pushed live music till 3 a.m. at US Cellular Center in Asheville, North Carolina. There were many notable collaborations and cover material as Warren Haynes paid an extended tribute to Neil Young during Gov’t Mule’s set and then paid homage to The Beatles with Billy & The Kids. It was especially interesting to see Warren cover so much Neil Young after Haynes revealed that Young was one artist he’s always wanted to collaborate with during his JamBase twitter takeover.

Fans were treated to everything from country, to funk, to bluegrass and to rock and roll as the evening began to unfold but the most surprising fusion of sound came with Billy & The Kids. Billy & The Kids is a new band that made its debut at the pre-jam featuring Bill Kreutzmann on drums, Aron Magner on keys, Reed Mathis on bass and Tom Hamilton on guitar. The band stuck to mostly Dead songs out of the gate but threw a curve ball when they unexpectedly dropped into “Chalk Dust Torture” by Phish. Kreutzmann previously collaborated with Magner at Lockn’ during the Locknstep Allstars and at Gathering of The Vibes with The Disco Biscuits. Billy & The Kids were one of the most energetic and exploratory bands from the entire evening as their improvisation felt more like a journey through space.

Gov’t Mule’s set started with eight Neil Young covers performed with Jackie Greene. Jason Isbell and Neal Casal joined in on “Helpless.” After all the Neil covers, Warren and Co. paid tribute to the late Ian McLagan with a version of Faces’ “Stay With Me” featuring special guests Audley Freed and Caleb Johnson. Freed and Johnson also helped out on the “Trampled Underfoot” finale.

A Few Christmas Jam Setlists

Jason Isbell

Set: Stockholm, Go It Alone, Heart On A String, Danko/Manuel, Flying Over Water, Cover Me Up, Super 8

Billy & The Kids

Set: Warren Haynes Intro, Shakedown Street > Tennessee Jed, Crazy Fingers, Bertha, Deal, Chalk Dust Torture > Turn On Your Lovelight (w/ Col. Bruce Hampton) > Basically Frightened (w/ Col. Bruce Hampton) > Turn On Your Lovelight (w/ Col. Bruce Hampton) > Chalk Dust Torture, Estimated Prophet > Me & My Uncle, Dear Prudence (w/ Warren Haynes), While My Guitar Gently Weeps, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (w/ Warren & horns)

Warren Haynes Christmas Band (Haynes, Pearson, Burbridge, Louis, Riddle)

Set: Take The Highway, Southern Highway (w/ Craig Sorrells & Mike Barnes), Can’t You See

Gov’t Mule

Set: Cinnamon Girl (w/ Jackie Greene), Tonight’s The Night (w/ Jackie Greene), For The Turnstiles (w/ Jackie Greene, w/o Matt Abts & Jorgen Carlsson), Old Man (w/ Jackie Greene), Helpless (w/ Jackie Greene, Neal Casal & Jason Isbell), After The Gold Rush (Jackie Greene solo with Danny Louis on trombone), Cowgirl In The Sand (w/ Jackie Greene), Down By The River (w/ Jackie Greene), Stay With Me (w/ Audley Freed & Caleb Johnson), Trampled Underfoot (w/ Audley Freed & Caleb Johnson)

Rohbear1 Fan-Shot Videos

[Billy & The Kids -Chalk Dust > Lovelight > Basically Frightened > Lovelight > Chalk Dust]

[Billy & The Kids -Estimated Prophet]

[Billy & The Kids w/ Warren -Dear Prudence]

[Billy & The Kids w/ Warren -While My Guitar…]

[Billy & The Kids w/ Warren & Horns -The Night They Drove…]

[Gov’t Mule w/ Freed & Johnson -Stay With Me]

[Gov’t Mule w/ Freed & Johnson -Trampled Underfoot]

[Gov’t Mule w/ Jackie Greene, Neal Casal & Jason Isbell]

Check back next week for Stu’s review and photos from Christmas Jam.