"Wish You Were Here": Another One For Woody
Warren Haynes and members of the extended Gov’t Mule family celebrated the life and musical legacy of bassist Allen Woody last night. The Another One for Woody benefit show took place at New York’s Roseland Ballroom—the same venue that hosted the original One for Woody benefit a decade ago—and raised money for music education in public schools. The performance stretched until nearly 2 AM.
The Another One for Woody benefit was divided into three mini-segments that brought together members of the three groups with whom Woody is most regularly associated: The Allman Brothers Band, Gov’t Mule and Artimus Pyle Band. Before the evening’s first segment, Haynes and his longtime friends McCain and Kevn Kinney (Drivin’ N Cryin’) welcomed the audience with acoustic versions of “Just Outside Of Heaven (A Good Country Mile),” “The Lucky One” and “I Shall Be Released.”
Guitarist Luther Dickinson and drummer Cody—who performed under the name the North Mississippi Allstars Duo—hosted the night’s first set of music. Near the start of the set, Luther Dickinson told the crowd that Gov’t Mule took the fledging Allstars out as a duo in 1998 and Woody would play bass with the band each night. The Dickinsons ran through self-described “raw and unrehearsed” versions of “Sitting On Top Of The World,” “Shimmy She Wobble,” “Station Blues,” “Preachin’ Blues” and “Glory Glory” before bringing out Big Sugar guitarist—and recent Gov’t Mule producer—Gordie Johnson for “Po Black Maddie” and “Straight To Hell.” The North Mississippi Allstars Duo brought its set to a close by inviting out ‘70s-era Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer Artimus Pyle, Gov’t Mule keyboardist Danny Louis and former Black Crowes guitarist Audley Freed for a set-closing “Whiskey Rockin Rolla” (three Black Crowes guitarists participated in the benefit at various points in the night).
Gov’t Mule—Woody’s project at the time of his passing—hosted the second and most personal segment of the evening. Before the band took the stage, Haynes’ longtime guitar technician Brian Farmer placed a “Mule Crossing” sign on an amplifier near the front of the stage and images culled from throughout Mule’s career were projected behind the group throughout its set. The current incarnation of Gov’t Mule opened its performance with takes on “Railroad Boy,” “Blind Man In The Dark,” “Steppin’ Lightly” and “Banks Of The Deep End.” Haynes’ most direct lyrical tribute to Woody took place at the end of “Banks,” when he stretched out the final “lost my best friend” line of the song.
The parade of guests truly started during “I’m A Ram,” as Johnson returned to the stage with moe. percussionists Jim Loughlin and Vinnie Amico. Haynes remarked that most of the music and musicians featured at the benefit have a “shared history” with the fallen bassist: Gov’t Mule shared many early bills with Big Sugar and also with moe. in the late ‘90s as part of the Summer Sessions tour. After “I’m A Ram,” moe. guitarist Chuck Garvey replaced Johnson for a take on the Beatles’ “Dear Prudence.”
As the night moved on, the set started to resemble more of an all-star jam than a traditional Mule set. The Dickinson Brothers, Pyle and harmonica player Hook Herrera—who played at the very first Mule show—sat in on “32/20 Blues,” while Pyle and Black Crowes guitarist Rich Robinson helped the members of Mule with “Stay With Me.”
Next, Haynes, Louis and Mule drummer Matt Abts were joined by Robinson, Pyle and current Lynyrd Skynyrd bassist Robert Kearns for a take on the Crowes hit “Sometimes Salvation” and after Abts and Robinson left the stage, the Skynyrd standard “Simple Man.” Haynes—who played with Kearns long before the bassist joined Skynyrd—noted that he had two members of the veteran southern rock onstage, though the bassist joined Lynyrd Skynyrd nearly 18 years after Pyle left the group. The members of Gov’t Mule later returned to the stage with Freed for their own “Wishing Well”
Gov’t Mule’s set closed with a deeply personal moment as Woody’s 13-year-old daughter Savannah Woody took the stage with her father’s band for the first time. The younger Woody sang with Gov’t Mule and Pyle on Haynes’ signature song “Soulshine.” Haynes handed Savannah the appropriate “think back to what my daddy said” and Pyle brought her a tambourine to shake during the song’s breakdown.
After a short break, the Allman Brothers Band took the stage for evening’s third and final segment. The band—who already clocked in a busy day that included a press conference on the ABB’s 2011 Beacon Theater residency—took the stage close to 11 PM and charged into “Don’t Want You No More,” “It’s Not My Cross To Bear,” “End of the Line,” “No One To Run With,” “Black Hearted Woman,” “Who’s Been Talking” and “Midnight Rider.” The group then opened its show to guests during “One Way Out” with Robinson returning to the stage, Pyle sitting in for Jaimoe and Berry Oakley Jr replacing bassist Oteil Burbridge. Oakley, whose father and namesake was the ABB’s founding bassist, also remained onstage for “Statesboro Blues.”
Though no members of the Grateful Dead sat in during the show, as had been heavily rumored, the Allman Brothers Band did pay back-to-back tributes to two of its Summer Jam at Watkins Glenn co-headliners. First, the Allman Brothers Band covered The Band’s “The Weight” with Louis on keyboards and Freed on auxiliary guitar. Then moe.’s Garvey, Loughlin and Amico returned to the stage for a “Blue Sky” jam that bled into the Grateful Dead’s “Franklin’s Tower.” The members of the Allman Brothers Band brought back the Dickinson Brothers and Herrera for a set-closing “Southbound” jam and closed its set sans guests with the lone encore of “Whipping Post.”
The night came to a close around 2 AM with a surprise second encore of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” that featured Haynes, Oakley, Johnson, Louis and Abts. Gov’t Mule will return to New York for performances at the Beacon Theater on December 30 and 31.