Thursday, December 18, 2008

Warren Haynes' 20th Christmas Jam

Warren Haynes, the great guitarist/vocalist/songwriter who splits his time between Gov't Mule, the Allman Brothers and a host of side projects, pulled out all the stops for his annual Christmas Jam, held last weekend in his hometown of Asheville, North Carolina. The event has become one of the most important ongoing sessions in rock history. Last year's edition has just come out on DVD. Here's an account of this year's proceedings:

(Asheville, NC) -- The Concert for Bangladesh brought world famous musicians together for a cause. The Band's Last Waltz film honored wonderful musicians. These events could be considered precursors to the legacy established by Warren Haynes and his annual Christmas Jam

Over the past twenty years Warren Haynes has brought the world's most influential musicians together for rare moments - and this year is no exception. Who else but Haynes would have the Allman Brothers Band performing "Dazed and Confused" with Led Zeppelin's legendary multi-instrumentalist John Paul Jones? Ben Harper chose the Christmas Jam to debut his new band Ben Harper and Relentless7. Country Legend Travis Tritt joined Haynes' Gov't Mule on the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic "Simple Man."

"For the 20th Anniversary it was our hope to make this the best Christmas Jam ever and I think we attained our goal. I feel very fortunate and incredibly honored that my friends and heroes found time
in their hectic schedules to come to my hometown of Asheville a few days of for spirited music and to support a wonderful cause in Habitat for Humanity," said Haynes.

In true "Christmas Jam Spirit," Michael Franti, who was scheduled to perform as an acoustic duo with guitarist Jay Bowman, decided moments before his set, after seeing the immense talent pool backstage, to expand his band to include John Paul Jones on mandolin, Robben Ford on guitar, longtime Willie Nelson sideman Mickey Raphael on harmonica, and Fred Eltringham (Jakob Dylan & The Gold Mountain Rebels) on percussion. Spontaneous collaborations like this and many more exemplify the Christmas Jam spirit.

While the Christmas Jam certainly is Haynes' event, the most anticipated guest musician would certainly be John Paul Jones. One of the weekend's most intimate moments was a short two song acoustic set by Haynes (guitar) and Jones (mandolin) performing the Haynes fan favorite "Soulshine" and the Led Zeppelin classic "Going to California."

Gov't Mule closed the second night with Jones joining the band on the Led Zeppelin classics "Livin' Lovin' Maid", "Since I've Been Lovin' You" and "No Quarter." Ben Harper then added vocals on "The Ocean" and "When The Levee Breaks".

Warren Haynes' 20th Annual Christmas Jam was held this past weekend December 12 and 13 at the Civic Center Arena in Asheville, NC. To celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Christmas Jam, Haynes decided to make this year's event a two night affair.

Both concerts reached capacity crowds and went well past the 2AM self-imposed curfew. Friday's concert ran from 7PM until 4:20AM. Saturday's show began at 7PM and ended at 3:30AM. All proceeds from the Christmas Jam will be donated to Habitat For Humanity. Complete set
lists for each act can be found at The following musicians performed at this years event:

Friday's acts included Allman Brothers Band, The Derek Trucks Band, The Del McCoury Band, Gov't Mule, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, Joan Osborne and Travis Tritt.

Saturday's acts included Ben Harper & Relentless7, Coheed & Cambria, Steve Earle, Michael Franti with Jay Bowman, Gov't Mule, and Johnny Winter also performed their own sets. Haynes gave a heartfelt introduction for Winter whom Haynes credits among his earliest musical

Musical guests included Mike Barnes, Buddy Cage, Roosevelt Collier, Karl Denson, Robben Ford, Ruthie Foster, Audley Freed, Ron Holloway, Patterson Hood, JJ Grey, Col. Bruce Hampton, Robert Kearns, Kevn Kinney, Eric Krasno, Edwin McCain, Mickey Raphael and Tal Wilkenfeld.

Although the main shows were at the Civic Center, that's not where the Christmas Jam ended, as events took place all around town over the course of the weekend. The Christmas Jam By Day featured live music by The Lee Boys, Year Long Disaster, U-Melt and many more during Friday and
Saturday afternoon at local Asheville clubs Stella Blue, The Emerald Lounge and fans lined up around the block for the Kevn Kinney hosted sets at Jack of the Wood.

Film screenings took place throughout the weekend at The Fine Arts Theatre including "Christmas On Mars" a fantastical film freakout featuring the Flaming Lips, a glorious science fiction film that marks the directorial debut of the Lips' visionary frontman Wayne Coyne; "Electric Purgatory: The Fate of The Black Rocker" a documentary that examines the struggles of black rock musicians and the industry's ambivalence towards them; and many more.

The Satellite Gallery hosted an art show which included Art & Photos by Danny Clinch, Jay Blakesberg, Jeff Wood, Steve Johannsen, Dino Perrucci, Allison Murphy, Stuart O'Sheilds and many more. The art display will be up for the rest of the year and items are still available for purchase.

Fans were invited "Before The Jam, To Lend A Hand" and volunteer to help build a house funded by a portion of last year's proceeds.

No comments: