WARREN HAYNES & FRIENDS | 03.28 | NYC
Warren Haynes & Friends :: 03.28.07 :: Irving Plaza :: New York, NY
It was almost 10 p.m. as the house lights went down on the packed ballroom. Haynes walked out alone into a lone spotlight with his acoustic guitar to open with a soulful “A Million Miles From Yesterday.” Haynes said, “I wrote that song at least 10 or 15 years ago. I started revisiting it and somewhere in the process of putting the songs together for High & Mighty I stumbled across what I felt was the finished version. It’s an introspective song. It’s very personal. It’s ‘A Million Miles From Yesterday’ so as much as that [phrase] meant when I started writing it, it couldn’t possibly mean as much as it does now. For me to be able to go back and finally finish that song really meant a lot to me. I am really pleased with the way it turned out and glad that the song has re-emerged.”
Next, Gregg Allman and Warren Haynes stood side-by-side with their acoustic guitars. “This is a song off my very first LP,” said Allman, introducing a sweet version of “All My Friends” followed by a gorgeous take on Jackson Browne’s morose classic, “These Days.” Warren admits since rejoining The Allman Brothers in 2001 his musical relationship with Gregg has really developed. “We attempted to take it to a new level in recent years and with great success. Possibly because we know each other that much better, we just gained each other’s trust, which is very important,” explained Haynes.
After a ten-minute break, the stage was set up in the familiar configuration. As Jaimoe and Butch Trucks took their seats at the drums and Oteil Burbridge strapped on his bass, the packed house erupted. The Allman Brothers Band was about to play Irving Plaza! Derek Trucks, then Haynes and Allman came out with big smiles. In the midst of 15 sold out shows at the Beacon, here they were about to play to a lucky few souls at one of the city’s smallest venues.
The Derek Trucks Band with Susan Tedeschi was up next. For the first tune, Trucks stood offstage as Soulive guitarist Eric Krasno stepped up on “Evidence.” Tedeschi, wearing a gorgeous purple dress, was beyond soulful. If this preview was any indication, the upcoming summer tour with Trucks and Tedeschi is going to be special. “I Wish I Knew” was nice as Mike Mattison and Susan Tedeschi traded verses.
Krasno, Oteil, McCain, Trucks, Tedeschi, Smallie
“Music, speaking for myself, is so much more fun when you don’t know what to expect,” comments Haynes. “When you are lucky enough to be surrounded with great musicians, like all of us are, it would be imposing limitations on yourself to expect things to work out a certain way. You have to open yourself up to the unexpected and just not have any preconceptions about where the music’s gonna go, let it steer itself to the extent that it will and help steer it to the extent that you can. There is so much great music that can be made in an unrehearsed fashion. If you’re with the right people it’s just incredible.”
Continue reading for the rest of our exclusive conversation with Warren Haynes…
JamBase: Do you have any video footage that you are going to dust off? Are you planning any future DVD releases?
JamBase: I heard you were thinking of releasing “One for Woody” [a famous tribute concert for Allen Woody, the late Gov’t Mule/Allman Brothers bassist]. Is that true?
Haynes: We are working on that. That’s something we’re excited to do, so that should be coming soon.
Gov’t Mule is really tight as a band now after two studio releases and four years of touring. How happy are you with Mule as a quartet as opposed to the power trio that it started as years ago?
It’s been a little over four years for Danny [Louis] and a little under four for Andy [Hess]. This band has reached some amazing heights and gets better and better on a continual basis. This band has reached heights that I wasn’t sure we would ever get back to. I couldn’t feel better about the chemistry we have, and it’s just such a pleasure to walk on stage each night and break some new ground and make music that just keeps getting better and better.
The new songs seem to be very well received. I remember being at the record release party at the Bowery Ballroom here in NYC when you first unveiled the new material. When you’re making a studio album of fresh Mule material how conscious are you of how the songs are going to be received live?
Tell me about a comment you made recently about playing with the Allman Brothers. You talked about ‘windows’ in the music and jams. Were you referring to the segues between songs and how you go from one jam or song to another?
Well, it could be that [or] it could even be within the structure of the song. [On] some of the newest stuff we’ve been working up at the Allman Brothers’ rehearsals and onstage at the Beacon, we’re putting these windows into the songs where within the structure of the song we’ll go somewhere we have never gone before and then we know how we’re going to get back. But, what happens between point A and point B is yet to be determined. It’s accomplishing a lot of different things, all of which are very cathartic for us. For one thing, it calls on us to look at the songs differently and play them differently. Even the songs we haven’t changed are being affected by this new approach. Some of these little peaks may turn into other songs in the future. They are definitely going to give us a license to stretch into some directions that we’ve never gone before, and that’s very important.
Early in this Beacon run you ended a set with [the Grateful Dead’s] “The Other One.” It was very interesting to see how the jam progressed to where you were playing the vocal lead with your guitar. Was that rehearsed?
Let me ask you about the covers you play. Be it with the ABB or Gov’t Mule, your fans have come to expect you to break out a great cover almost every night. How do you come up with the cover songs you play each night? Will you just hear something on the bus one day, try it out in rehearsals and if it works go with it?
Sometimes that is exactly how it happens. You may be listening to music or talking about music on the bus and somebody might get an idea for a cover. In Gov’t Mule it’s usually something that I wish I had written or that I feel that I could do a good interpretation of vocally, take it somewhere other than where it started. Sometimes we’ll try a song at soundcheck and if it works we may try it that night.
You’ve watched Derek Trucks since he was a teenager. Much like you, Derek is taking great opportunities that come his way like touring with Eric Clapton. What can you tell us about Derek?
Which do you prefer, guitar playing, singing or songwriting? You often say you like all three equally. It seems like this is a good time in ABB history to contribute a lot in each area.
It’s been a great opportunity for me. When I was brought into the ABB in 1989 they brought me in as a guitar player and singer/songwriter. I was very honored to be one of the songwriters in such a great institution. A lot of bands from that era wouldn’t let that happen. When I left the band in 1997 and came back in 2001, Gregg and I started doing more and more songwriting [together]. I think our songwriting rapport has grown immensely. We wrote a few songs together in the old days, but I was writing more with Dickey [Betts]. Gregg and I had only written a few songs together before we attempted to take it to a new level in recent years, and with great success. We just gained each other’s trust, which is very important in any marriage.
Do you feel like you are taking more of a leadership role on stage and in the studio?
In Dickey’s absence they wanted me to step up and fulfill a lot of the roles that Dickey had. It’s been a very organic type of process.
With so many different side projects going on with members of the ABB right now do you see the band being able to sustain everything? Do you see yourselves slowing down, touring less or even possibly having to look at replacing someone?
I see the band slowing down a bit, doing fewer and fewer shows, but as long as everybody is having fun and the music is being played on a level that it’s being played at now, then everybody’s into keeping it going.
JamBase | New York
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