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The concrete and steel of the Asheville Civic Center may reek of a concert venue past its prime, out of date and sorely in need of repair, but for the duration of the 20th Annual Warren Haynes Christmas Jam the unwelcoming and dank building took the form of a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.

2008 CHRISTMAS JAM – NIGHT ONE SETLIST (12.12.08)

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…

Saturday, 12.13.08

Ben Harper – Xmas Jam 2008
If the first night of the Christmas Jam was a tribute to the blues and all of its variations, the second night was all about soul. The night took twists and turns, but simple and beautiful R&B influenced music dominated from the opening notes of Haynes and Ruthie Foster‘s a capella “Grinnin’ In Your Face” to the closing thunder of Gov’t Mule, Ben Harper and John Paul Jones’ breathless version of Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks.”

The night started off in full swing with a rousing group jam of classic soul songs, including Ruthie Foster’s perfect version of Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools” as well as head Drive-By Trucker Patterson Hood‘s version of Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’.” With an all-star collection of sidemen (including Audley Freed, Karl Denson and Ron Holloway) vocalists Foster, Hood, Edwin McCain, and Joan Osborne traded vocal lines like Haynes and Derek Trucks did the previous night. It may be Christmas time, but the night felt like a valentine to that sweet soul music.

Steve Earle‘s set was vintage Earle: uncompromising, beautiful and spot-on. Through a barrage of his own songs (“Copperhead Road”) and cover songs (Dylan’s “Gotta Serve Somebody”), Earle showed why his voice may be the most original of them all.

Steve Earle – Xmas Jam 2008
Johnny Winter‘s appearance may have been the emotional high point of both nights. From the solemn and reverential introduction by Haynes to the standing ovation the audience gave at the conclusion, Winter’s performance was near superhuman. Confined to playing guitar from a seated position due to health issues, the guitarist was still a lightening fast marvel, matching Haynes note for note on warp speed guitar duels on top of some of the raunchiest Texas blues in recent memory. Winter’s body may have slowed down, but his spirit and playing were vital and perfect.

The night’s odd men out seemed to be Coheed and Cambria. While their futuristic metal never quite jelled with the rest of the Christmas Jam lineup, the band played their hearts out for those willing to pay attention to their raging sea of sound. “It’s like Rush, man!” shouted one air guitar playing forty-something over the din.

Michael Franti‘s acoustic performance could have served as a cooling off period after the grenade like blast of Coheed and Cambria, but Franti apparently didn’t get the memo. Flanked by the seemingly ever present John Paul Jones on mandolin and Mickey Raphael (Willie Nelson) on harp, the singer turned the near capacity crowd into a handclapping, foot stomping army. Over the course of six songs, the steel structure of the Civic Center morphed from concert venue to campfire sing-a-long, and the joyous noise echoed to the roof. Franti’s barefoot demeanor and acoustic guitar may have been the quietest act of the night on paper, but it turned into a thunderous chorus of love and hope.

Ben Harper and Relentless 7 had the unenviable task of following Franti, but somehow took the stomp and shout and added a backbeat to it for their performance. While the band’s deep R&B roots were evident, they seemed to be fighting each other for their share of the groove. As they settled into a thunderous performance, the audience responded in kind.

Warren Haynes & Derek Trucks – Xmas Jam 2008
Not to be outdone by the power of Harper, Gov’t Mule took the stage with something to prove. Instead of playing a tight set composed of the band’s best loved songs, the Mule instead relied upon guest spots to bring the spirit of collaboration to the forefront. The final five songs of Gov’t Mule’s set was a Zeppelin greatest hits assortment with John Paul Jones (there’s that name again) on bass. From a bluesy and quite amazing “Since I’ve Been Loving You” to the aforementioned “When the Levee Breaks,” the band lurched and powered through versions of Zeppelin classics that were so good it made listeners clamor even more for the much rumored reunion tour (come on Mr. Plant!).

At the end of an exhausting and exhilarating weekend of music, Haynes stood at the edge of the stage to thank the audience. The Christmas Jam already has a reputation as one of the best nights of music around, year in and year out, and after this two night stand, it may be more than any other event can measure up to.

2008 CHRISTMAS JAM – NIGHT TWO SETLIST (12.13.08)

WARREN HAYNES & RUTHIE FOSTER: Grinnin’ In Your Face

XMAS JAM BAND (Audley Freed, Jen Gunderman, Buddy Cage, Kevn Kinney, Fiddle Dave, Robert Kearns, Edwin McCain, Mickey Raphael): Blues on Top of Blues, Straight To Hell, Free Fallin (w/ Patterson Hood), Dreams To Remember (w/ Joan Osborne & Horns*), TCB (w/ Robben Ford, Joan Osborne, Eric Krasno & Horns*), Chain of Fools (w/ Ruthie Foster, Robben Ford, Joan Osborne, Karl Denson, Ron Holloway, Eric Krasno), When Something Is Wrong With My Baby (w/ Joan Osborne, Warren Haynes & Horns*), Tumblin’ Dice (w/ Ruthie Foster)
* Karl Denson, Ron Holloway, Derrick Johnson, Craig Sorrells

STEVE EARLE: Copperhead Road, Christmas In Washington, My Old Friend The Blues, Guitar Town (w/ Warren Haynes), Gotta Serve Somebody (w/ Warren Haynes, Steve Earle, Joan Osborne, Travis Tritt & Ruthie Foster), Brand New Companion (w/ Mickey Raphael & Warren Haynes)

GROUP SONG: Serve Somebody

JOHNNY WINTER: Paul Nelson Jam (Intro), Hideaway, Blackjack, I Used To Love Her But It’s All Over Now (w/ Warren Haynes), Mojo Boogie

COHEED AND CAMBIRA: No World For Tomorrow, Gravemakers & Gunslingers, Mother Superior, Favor House Atlantic (acoustic), I Shall Be Released (w/ Warren Haynes), Welcome Home (w/ Warren Haynes)

MICHAEL FRANTI & JAY BOWMAN (FRED ELTRINGHAM ON DRUMS): Love Don’t Wait (w/ John Paul Jones, Robben Ford & Mickey Raphael), Sweet Little Lies (w/ John Paul Jones, Robben Ford & Mickey Raphael), All I Want Is You (w/ John Paul Jones, Robben Ford, Mickey Raphael & Eric Krasno), Hey World (w/ John Paul Jones, Robben Ford, Mickey Raphael & Eric Krasno), I Got Love For You (w/ John Paul Jones, Robben Ford, Mickey Raphael & Ron Holloway), Say Hey

BEN HARPER & RELENTLESS7: Number No Name, Shimmer, Lay There, Better Way, Fly 1 Time, Keep It Together, Dressed In Black, Boots, Up To You Now, Good Times, Bad Times (w/ John Paul Jones)

GOV’T MULE: Southern Man (w/ Patterson Hood), Lively Up Yourself (w/ Karl Denson & Robben Ford), Simple Man (w/ Travis Tritt), Livin’ Lovin’ Maid (w/ John Paul Jones), Since I’ve Been Loving You (w/ John Paul Jones), No Quarter (w/ John Paul Jones on keys & Audley Freed), The Ocean (w/ John Paul Jones on bass, Ben Harper & Mike Barnes), When The Levee Breaks (w/ Ben Harper & John Paul Jones on bass)

Encore – Xmas Jam 2008

Continue reading for more pics of Christmas Jam 2008…

Images by: Dino Perrucci

Warren Haynes hands off keys to new home
Eric Krasno & John Paul Jones :: 12.11 :: Pre-Jam at Orange Peel
Lee Boys with Warren Haynes :: 12.11 :: Pre-Jam at Orange Peel
John Paul Jones :: 12.11 :: Pre-Jam at Orange Peel
Allman Brothers with John Paul Jones :: Xmas Jam 2008
Gregg Allman & Ivan Neville :: Xmas Jam 2008
Allman Brothers with Roosevelt Collier :: Xmas Jam 2008
Coheed and Cambria with Warren Haynes :: Xmas Jam 2008
Krasno, Jones, Bowman & Franti :: Xmas Jam 2008
Trucks, Krasno & Tedeschi :: Xmas Jam 2008
Warren Haynes & Johnny Winter :: Xmas Jam 2008
Matt Abts :: Xmas Jam 2008
Ivan Neville – Dumpstaphunk :: Xmas Jam 2008
Tony Hall – Dumpstaphunk :: Xmas Jam 2008
Tal Wilkenfeld with Gov’t Mule :: Xmas Jam 2008

Continue reading for even more pics of Xmas Jam 2008…

Images by: Willa Stein

Xmas Jam 2008
John Paul Jones :: Xmas Jam 2008
Matt Abts :: Xmas Jam 2008
Gregg Allman :: Xmas Jam 2008
Dumpstaphunk :: Xmas Jam 2008
Dumpstaphunk with Haynes & Krasno :: Xmas Jam 2008
Ruthie Foster :: Xmas Jam 2008
Michael Franti :: Xmas Jam 2008
Jones, Bowman & Franti :: Xmas Jam 2008
John Paul Jones :: Xmas Jam 2008
Del McCoury Band with John Paul Jones :: Xmas Jam 2008
Del McCoury Band with John Paul Jones :: Xmas Jam 2008
Del McCoury Band with The Lee Boys :: Xmas Jam 2008
Travis Tritt & Del McCoury :: Xmas Jam 2008
Derek Trucks :: Xmas Jam 2008
Edwin McCain :: Xmas Jam 2008
Coheed and Cambria :: Xmas Jam 2008
Coheed and Cambria :: Xmas Jam 2008
Jorgen Carlsson – Gov’t Mule :: Xmas Jam 2008
Patterson Hood with Gov’t Mule :: Xmas Jam 2008
Oteil Burbridge :: Xmas Jam 2008
Mickey Raphael & Robben Ford :: Xmas Jam 2008
Robben Ford :: Xmas Jam 2008
Travis Tritt :: Xmas Jam 2008
Derek Trucks :: Xmas Jam 2008
Johnny Winter :: Xmas Jam 2008
Warren Haynes :: Xmas Jam 2008
Steve Earle :: Xmas Jam 2008
Audley Freed :: Xmas Jam 2008
Joan Osborne :: Xmas Jam 2008
Joan Osborne :: Xmas Jam 2008
Karl Denson :: Xmas Jam 2008

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