Continuing what has become a long-standing holiday tradition, Warren Haynes will host his 23rd Annual Christmas Jam this Saturday, December 10, at the Asheville Civic Center in Asheville, North Carolina.
Guests will include Phil Lesh & Friends (featuring Lesh, Haynes, Jackie Greene, Jeff Chimenti and Joe Russo), Gov't Mule and first-time Christmas Jam appearances by Los Lobos, Bela Fleck and other artists, including Bill Evans and Jimmy Herring.
For the past two decades-plus, the Christmas Jam -- a sold-out, seven-plus-hour benefit for Habitat for Humanity -- has become an institution in Asheville, the hometown of the Allman Brothers Band and Gov't Mule guitarist, whose latest solo album, Man In Motion, was released in April.
The timing of the concert coincides with the recent release of Warren Haynes Presents The Benefit Concert, Volume 4, a double CD that captures the spirit and fun of the 2002 Christmas Jam. The album features performances by Gov't Mule, Bob Weir & Friends, John Hiatt & The Goners and Robert Randolph & The Family Band.
"For that night, we had put together a band behind Bob Weir that had never played together before, which was really great," Haynes said via telephone from his Boston hotel room last week. "It was myself, Dave Schools, Rob Barraco, John Molo and Bob. We had a very small amount of rehearsal, and it just kind of came together really well in a natural way.
"I really loved John Hiatt's set with The Goners, including Sonny Landreth.
"moe. had a really interesting set that night -- and, of course, Robert Randolph's set was very exciting. But there were a lot of cool collaborations, which I was able to go back and revisit -- and that's a lot of what we try to utilize on these CDs and DVDs from the Christmas Jams. Obviously, all the money is going to charity, so there's that side of it, too.
"But the CD gives you a good idea of what it's like to witness improvisational music performed in front of 8,000 people with little or no rehearsal."
Besides the Christmas Jam and new live benefit CD, Haynes and Gov't Mule will perform their usual New Year's Eve shows at the Beacon Theatre in New York City December 30 and 31.
I asked if there will be any surprises this year.
"Surprises? Well, other than the fact that we're gonna play Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishmen album in its entirety ... (laughs). We usually do something thematic for New Year's -- and for Halloween -- so this year, we're gonna play that monumental record from start to finish."
Stay tuned for more from this interview with Haynes.
For New Year's Eve ticket info, check out Haynes' website.