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Published: 2010/12/15
by Meredith Berke

Warren Haynes Pre Jam, The Orange Peel, Asheville, NC – 12/10

Photos by Allison Murphy

It was kind of a whirlwind getting into The Orange Peel on this freezing cold Friday evening. Electricity was in the air, I saw Warren Haynes on the stage with Kevn Kinney, and the club was packed with people smiling from ear to ear. The specially brewed Christmas Jam Ale was flowing and Pre-Jam had officially begun.

Dirty Dozen Brass Band blew the warmth from NOLA right into North Carolina with their dozen horns. By the third song, “Unclean Water,” Ivan Neville joined in on keys. This was one night to remember, as the guests flowed off and on the stage with such ease, you could feel that they were like old friends jamming with each other. For a first time Christmas Jam music junkie, I was in musical heaven. Dirty Dozen ended with a funky “Feat Don’t Fail Me Now,” a James Brown-sort of soul funk tune as we whirled into a New Orleans frenzy.

John Bell’s 30 minute acoustic set was a real treat. He cooled us off with “Papa’s Comin’ Home”, a soulful, incredibly beautiful song topped with Bell’s voice and amazing guitar playing. A few players from DDBB joined, and the southern sounds and guitars mixed with jazzy horns wafted through the air on “Christmas Katie.” Wonderful indeed.

Umphrey’s McGee was so different to my ears that I didn’t realize who they were at first, in part as UM’s keyboardist Joel Cummins flight was delayed. Ivan Neville joined in on “Resolutions” and his keys just brought this up a notch.
Warren then came on for a beautiful acoustic set. Kevn Kinney and Gregg Allman joined at different times throughout and the crowd was treated to a taste of a few ABB tunes – “Midnight Rider,” “Come & Go Blues” and “Melissa.” Truth be told, to me, that “Melissa” gave me goose bumps. I was completely blown away.

The house lights came up after each set, setting the tone for the audience to smile, chat and laugh with each other. Spotted Artemis Pyle, drummer for Lynyrd Skynyrd in the audience, exciting me for tomorrow’s monster Christmas Jam.

For the Pre Jam Allstar Band finale, it felt like everyone came back on stage plus about 20 other people. The stage was packed, and I couldn’t count the musicians on the stage. Amazingly we were only at 10 pm.

Warren and Ivan led a raging “Papa was a Rolling Stone” and then we slowed down for Steve Miller’s dedicated Les Paul song with harpist/violinist Carlos Reyes. The story Steve told the crowd was that Les Paul was his mentor, and Les asked Steve to play this song at his funeral. The song was beautiful, the story made my hair stand on end.

The Pre Jam Allstar Band raged out the evening, with Audley Freed, Kevn Kinney, Ivan Neville, Ron Johnson, Fred Eltringham, Cody Dickinson, Gregg Allman, and the Dirty Dozen Horns. Last song of the night was B. B. King’s “Key to the Highway,” bluesy and delicious just the way it should be.

Show ended at 11:45 pm, not so early when we began at 6 pm. Time to go home, as we all needed our rest for the next night at the Asheville Civic Center for Warren Haynes Presents the 22nd Annual Christmas Jam.

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