Gov’t Mule Bookends The 20th Anniversary of Warren Haynes’ Christmas Jam; John Paul Jones, Ben Harper and Xmas Jam Band Among Notable Perfomers
The 20th Anniversary of Warren Haynes’ Christmas Jam took place over the weekend at the Asheville Civic Center. As with past years, the event raised proceeds for Habitat for Humanity. In addition, as per form, Haynes appeared throughout the Jam (which expanded to two nights this year) with Gov’t Mule opening and closing the benefit.
On Friday, the Mule took the stage and delivered a fitting version of its ‘Brighter Days,’ to start off the Christmas Jam. Then, after runs through ‘Like Flies,’ ‘Bad Little Doggie’ and ‘Blind Man In The Dark,’ the group brought out Tal Wilkenfeld and Robben Ford for ‘Sco-Mule,’ followed by Karl Denson for ‘Falling Down.’ Both Wilkenfeld and Denson returned during the performance by Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk that came next, with Denson and Matt Grondin appearing on ‘Livin In A World Gone Bad’ and Wilkenfeld contributing to a cover of Sly Stone’s ‘Thank You Falletime Be Mice Elf’ that also featured Eric Krasno, Danny Louis and Haynes. The Del McCoury Band set that followed, culminated in a rousing ‘Celebrate’ with The Lee Boys and also saw appearances by John Paul Jones (‘Squirrel Hunter,’ ‘My Love Will Not Change’) and Travis Tritt (‘Little Georgia Rose’ and ‘Old Kentucky Shore’). While Haynes sat out the McCoury set, he returned to make appearances with Joan Osborne (‘Help Me’) and Travis Tritt (‘Pressure is On,’ ‘Movin On Over’) before delivering two acoustic songs with John Paul Jones (‘Soulshine’ and ‘Going To California,’ just as they had at the Pre-Jam on Thursday night). The evening later closed with Allman Brothers Band and highlights included ‘The Weight’ with Susan Tedeschi, Ruthie Foster, Ron Holloway and Danny Louis, as well as a charged finale that saw John Paul Jones emerge for ‘Dazed & Confused’ and ‘Mountain Jam.’
The second night opened with Haynes and Foster delivering ‘Grinnin’ In Your Face’ before yielding the stage to the Xmas Jam Band, which consisted of Audley Freed, Buddy Cage, Kevn Kinney, Edwin McCain, Mickey Raphael, Jen Gunderman, Robert Kearns and Fiddle Dave. Much of this group’s set also drew in a horn section comprised of Karl Denson, Ron Holloway, Derrick Johnson and Craig Sorrells. The band delivered such selections as ‘Free Fallin’ (with Patterson Hood), ‘Chain of Fools’ (with Foster, Ford, Osborne, Holloway and Krasno), ‘When Something Is Wrong With My Baby’ (with Osborne and Haynes) and ‘Tumblin’ Dice’ (with Foster). Steve Earle followed and the standout moments included Haynes’ guest spot on a version of ‘Guitar Town’ and a rendition of ‘Gotta Serve Somebody’ that drew in Haynes, Osborne, Tritt and Foster. The event’s host also appeared with Johnny Winter on ‘All Over Now’ and Coheed and Cambria on ‘I Shall Be Released’ and ‘Welcome Home.’ The set that followed from Michael Franti and Jay Bowman featured an expanded line-up that also included John Paul Jones, Robben Ford and Mickey Raphael for such songs as ‘Love Don’t Wait,’ ‘All I Want Is You’ and ‘I Got Love For You.’ Ben Harper then made his area debut with the Relentless7, his new rock collective, delivering a number of originals and bringing out John Paul Jones for ‘Good Times Bad Times.’ Finally, Gov’t Mule brought things full-circle with their eight song set that opened with a cover of ‘Southern Man,’ with guest Patterson Hood. Then, following guest appearances by Karl Denson and Robben Ford on ‘Lively Up Yourself’ and Travis Tritt on ‘Simple Man,’ John Paul Jones (who was one of the two most visible musicians of the weekend) came out for the closing takes on ‘Livin’ Lovin’ Maid,’ ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You,’ ‘No Quarter,’ ‘The Ocean’ and ‘When The Levee Breaks’ with Ben Harper also joining in on the latter two powerful selections.