December 13, 2013
US Cellular Arena
Asheville, NC USA
Review by Jonathan Landry
Photos by Scott Witty
Warren Haynes Christmas Jam 25
December 13-14, 2013
Christmas Jam In Asheville Where Hippie Meets Chic
The trip to Asheville to see Warren Haynes' 25th Annual Christmas Jam was indeed a tasty treat. Having never attended one of these famous jam sessions before, I was popping with anticipation. Asheville, North Carolina is a town best described as "where hippie meets chic" with an emphasis on beer as the glue to hold it all together. Oh, and the music!
These jams are legendary for the talent that is brought in each year to benefit the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity. Warren has worked closely with the group for 15 years and proceeds from the jam go towards funding the building of new homes for families in need. Warren has contributed to the building of homes for 24 families in the Asheville area over this period.
Not wanting to disappoint, Warren scheduled a 2 night extravaganza chocked full of talent to celebrate the Silver Anniversary this year. He opened both nights to serenade the crowd and thank the crowd for their continued support. The first real set of the back to back shows was kick started with Warren's Gov't Mule. As usual, Mule's bluesy rock had the faithful moving early in the evening. Keb' Mo' and the on the spot collaboration with John Scofield, got the revolving door of special guests started. After a quick warm up with Keb' Mo', John Scofield & The Uber-jam brought the funk for an all-out dance party.
After cooling down during the lengthy intermission, we were treated to the first of two Greg Allman jams as Allman and Warren took the stage for an acoustic set. Performing various songs, Neil Young's "The Needle & the Damage Done" was the highlight for this reviewer.
The Phil Lesh Quintet, featuring the Grateful Dead's bassist Phil Lesh, along with Warren Haynes, Jimmy Herring, Rob Barraco and John Molo was highly anticipated. Lesh's band has not been seen in over 10 years with the exception of a few intimate engagements on the West coast. This was evident by the number of Deadheads milling around the arena. The tapers, a group of people devoted to recording their own copies of anything Dead, had once again assembled their rigs, dusted off their mics and checked sound levels, hoping to get a crystal clear recording of what was about to come.
The t-shirts worn by die-hard Dead fans far outnumbered shirts declaring loyalty to other bands. The Dead is not dead, not by any means! After an extensive lineup and a schedule that ended up running a little long, Widespread Panic took the stage around 1:30 am and brought down the house with their southern psychedelic rock. A quick "Disco" to start the set had everyone out of their seats and grooving as if the evening had just begun.
JAM Night Two
Night two started with Warren welcoming everyone on stage and kicking things off with a quick tune. Another rare appearance scheduled was The Aquarium Rescue Unit featuring Col. Bruce Hampton, Jimmy Herring of Widespread Panic, Oteil Burbridge, Jeff Sipe and Matt Slocum. This will mark their 2nd appearance since 2007. Changing gears O.A.R. took the stage and had many in the crowd swaying to their pop sing-along tunes. After a short intermission, Michael Franti brought his laid-back, sing-along songs to life with notables as "I Got Love For You" and "Say Hey, I Love You."
Rolling into his second appearance of the benefit, Greg Allman & Friends played an electric set that was highlighted by sharing vocals on Warren's "Soulshine." Grace Potter and the Nocturnals were one of the biggest sets of the weekend with their heavy rock and blues style. Potter's rockin' stage presence was felt later when she joined SCO-Mule to close out the evening with a great cover of "Gold Dust Woman." It also marks the group's return to the event after a 13 year absence.
Another notable collaboration involves guitar legend John Scofield and Gov't Mule. SCO-MULE formed in September of 1999 and played 2 shows in Georgia that went down in infamy. After 14 years, they're back once more to delight their fan base.