Warren Haynes Christmas Jam | Asheville, NC | 2013 | Review

Article Contributed by Stephen Boyd | Published on Monday, January 20, 2014

Instead of sweating getting his wallet even fatter or having his name rolling off more folks’ tongues, Warren Haynes puts hammers, nails and efforts of kind-hearted, hard working Habitat for Humanity supporters where his guitar is to improve life for others. “Sweat Equity”, which simply means an individual needs to do for themselves and community to have the community return the favor is the driving force behind Haynes’ efforts. A wonderfully simple idea based on personal responsibility that needs to find its way to Washington D.C. and beyond.  Throughout the Asheville Civic Center during the weekend of the Jam, there were whispers of a Lesh and Haynes ticket in 2016.

The two nights of the 25th Christmas Jam in the Asheville Civic Center were the type of shows that stick with those in attendance forever.  This year’s list of performers, preferring some societal piece of mind rather than some extra money, far and away exceeded the advanced claims that this year’s Christmas Jam was going to be the biggest ever. Local Asheville businesses that helped spread this “Sweat Equity” idea and Christmas cheer over the weekend were The Asheville Music Hall, The Orange Peel, Jack of the Wood, The Grey Eagle and Dreamspider Publicity and Events. These businesses dew Asheville and the entire Southeast a favor by keeping Asheville’s music scene happening.  Check them out. 

This gathering of music and love, that puts kids from one to ninety-two in a home they can call their own, can not be done justice with words or digits.  The stability and assurances of being able to call one place home allows both parent and child the confidence to chase some dreams.  Otherwise, these children may find a similar fate as the children beneath the robe of The Ghost of Christmas Present from Charles Dickens’, A Christmas Carol.

"'Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask,' said
Scrooge, looking intently at the Spirit's robe,' but I see
something strange, and not belonging to yourself, protruding
from your skirts. Is it a foot or a claw?' 
'It might be a claw, for the flesh there is upon it,' was
the Spirit's sorrowful reply. 'Look here.'
From the foldings of its robe, it brought two children;
wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt
down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment.
'Oh, Man! Look here! Look, look, down here!” exclaimed the Ghost.
There were a boy and a girl. Yellow, meager, ragged, scowling,
wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where
graceful youth should have filled their features out, and
touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shriveled
hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and
pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat
enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No
change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any
grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has
monsters half so horrible and dread.
Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown to him
in this way, he tried to say they were fine children, but
the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie
of such enormous magnitude.
'Spirit. Are they yours?' Scrooge could say no more.
'They are Man's,' said the Spirit, looking down upon
them. 'And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers.
This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both,
and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy,
for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the
writing be erased. Deny it.' cried the Spirit, stretching out
its hand towards the city. 'Slander those who tell it ye.
Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse.
And abide the end.' 

That kinda life ain’t grand.  Should the previous Dickens’ passage be too wordy and hyperbolic for you, Jacob Marley was shorter and sweeter; exclaiming like a screaming other worldly 1989 Other One to Scrooge,  “Mankind IS my business!”  Mankind needs to be more of all of our business.    Warren and Friends can’t do every $%^)^* thing.

GIT BEHIND THE YULE (and the Warren Haynes Band)!

Gov't Mule: Drums-Matt Abts, Keyboards, Trumpet, Guitar- Danny Louis,  Bass-Jorgen   Carlsson

Warren Haynes Band: Vocals-Alicia Shakour, Keyboards- Nigel Hall, Saxaphone-Ron Holloway,  Drums-Terrence Higgins,  Bass-Ron Johnson

Learn to love these names and be thankful Warren Haynes assembled such a fantastic group of musicians. If you have been busy fiddling around on a cell phone for the last twenty years and have never seen Gov’t Mule that is a situation that must be addressed.  Fortunately enough, Gov’t Mule has an extensive tour beginning down South in early February.  For those that have never experienced Gov't Mule, from a musical point of view think the Allman Brothers meet Led Zeppelin with extra, extra special guests that show up during any given song.  Lyrically, Gov’t Mule speaks to the loves, lows, joys and sorrows that life brings to us all.

Colonel Bruce Hampton and Friends and Friends and Friends and Friends

In conversations with new friends and old, no one had ever been in the right place at the right time to have seen anything like the goings on with Colonel Bruce Hampton’s Aquarium Rescue Unit and Friends set.  Think of an improvisational, power funk, Big Top Tent Revival complete with a guitar handling preacher and choir that taxed the stage’s capacity with 15 to 20 musicians.  Setting aside favoritism towards a particular act, this set may have been the stand out set of the Jam. No doubt many in the crowd were feeling the spirit strongly enough to run down to the stage and have Col. Bruce lay his healing hands their foreheads.  BE HEALED !

OAR(Of A Revolution)

Not that it is a bad thing but OAR is probably the most likely group that appeared at the Jam to have a hit on the radio.  Think Wilco with a really funky horn section. Warren joined in for a cover of Led Zeppelin’s Fool In The Rain for a performance that would easily make the highlight real of this year’s Jam performances.

Soulshine-Gregg Allman and Friends 

Too %&^%% much!

Needle and the Damage Done-Acoustic Gregg Allman and Warren Haynes

! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

Bad Little Barbie and the Nocturnals

BAD LITTLE BARBIE ! ? ! ? ! Before someone calls GLAAD, NOW, PETA or some other group that seems to be chomping at the bit to let someone know they got their feelings hurt by a compliment to Grace Potter by admirably and affectionately referring to her as Bad Little Barbie, please chill.  Grace Potter cannot help it if she is gorgeous.  Grace Potter cannot help it if she has a self-proclaimed wild side.  Any person giving a written review of any of her shows would be remiss in not mentioning the combination of beauty, stage presence, her appreciation of the crowd and her talent. So take all that into account, make a twist on a Gov't Mule song title, Bad Little Doggie, and there you have it…Bad Little Barbie.  The way Grace takes on a male dominated music world, Grace Potter can be likened to a modern day Janis Joplin except hotter and lets all pray; much less self-destructive. 

About three in the morning, Grace and the Nocturnal had a gang bang on the drum set.  Now, now, now; pull yourself out of the gutter.  The gang bang was an intense drum circle where the entire band joined at the drum set and banged, bammed and boomed a rhythmic commotion that was not really heading in any specific groove but was energetic, lively and a refreshing waker-upper as the clock was creeping past three a.m. in the morning.  A lively wake-up call at three in the morning from Grace Potter...HOLLA!

Widespread Panic

Once again; WSMFP !


Spearhead’s J. Boogie sure does some pretty work with an acoustic guitar.  Rarely will you hear an acoustic guitar with so much POP!

Ron Holloway 

The only thing slicker than Ron Holloway’s array of stylish silk shirts are his fingertips on his saxophone. Ron is to Gov't Mule as Billy Preston was to the Beatles; the unofficial fifth member.

Tarheel Wonder Twin Powers ACTIVATE !

North Carolina jamband fans have been riding mighty high thanks to the hard work and once in a lifetime minds, hands and spirits of two of the finest Tarheels to have ever gained any sort of accomplishment in sports, music, writing…name it.  With Warren Haynes hailing from the Asheville area and Jimmy “Sunshine” Herring’s ties to Fayetteville, North Carolina, the smiles have been wide and plentiful out of the Tarheel State for the last twenty years. Thanks fellas and CHEERS to twenty more years!


As Gov't Mule is touring this winter, so is Jimmy Herring’s band.  Once again, the band is playing small venues.  There is nothing like standing five feet or ten feet away from Jimmy Herring while he goes off as nobody else.  Keep 2014 heading in a good direction by catching some Gov't Mule and Jimmy Herring in intimate venues.    

John Scofield

Sleeping on John Scofield?  DON’T! John Scofield is as talented with his guitar as ANYONE in attendance at this or any of the previous twenty-four Christmas Jams.  There is a reason both Warren Haynes and Phil Lesh have John Scofield as a regular contributor to their musical projects.

Audley Freed

Audley Freed, a fan favorite and much beloved, longstanding member of the Christmas Jam Family Band once again brought his considerable talent to Asheville’s Civic Center.  While it would be nice to see Auldley more often in similar settings, he is doing just fine in Nashville hanging with Grammy winners, writing hit songs and doing work in the studio. 

Greg Allman’s performances

Gregg Allman gave two stand out performances this year.  An acoustic set with Warren Haynes and an electric set featuring Allman Brother’s songs with a variety of friends. In an event of full of adulation and ovations, Gregg Allman easily received the longest standing ovation of the event. In fact, this was very likely the longest standing ovation for any of our jamband brothers in the last twenty-five years. Taking it a step farther, ovations that equal the love Gregg Allman received from the crowd are rare at any time and in any cultural setting. 

Crowd Scene

The crowd was lively, well behaved and loving where they were although Christmas’ themed apparel was down from former years. Yall work on that for next year.  It would be a shame to get on the naughty list for being too shy to sport some mistletoe, Christmas lights or elf ears.

Phil Lesh@Organ Donation

Phil Lesh, seventy- something and the beneficiary of a generous soul that was an organ donor, has been an improvisational music incubator for some of the finest guitar players that have touched a guitar in the last forty to fifty years.  In a list that includes but is far from inclusive; Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Duane Allman, Dickey Betts, Warren Haynes, Jimmy Herring, Anders Osborne, Steve Kimock, John Scofield, Trey Anastasio, John Kadlecik and Jackie Green have all benefitted from Phil’s rhythmic rumblings and undoubtedly were pushed to higher heights due to Phil’s talent, technique and spirit.  Bob Weir?  Bob Weir in that list? YES!  BOBBY $#&^# WEIR! Ain’t no time to hate.

Recently the Lesh Family had a new addition; Phil’s grandson, a healthy baby boy named after Levon Helm.  With Phil still making it happen, his children joining in and a grandbaby waiting in the wings, a nominations to make the Lesh Family our First Family is in order. All in favor? Say HEY NOW!  All in opposition?  Keep your *(&*( mouths shut! The HEY NOWS have it!

The Q Reunion

Bass-Phil Lesh, Keyboards- Rob Baracco, Guitar- Warren Haynes, Guitar- Jimmy Herring, Drums-John “Thunderbird” Molo

As the calendar prepared to flip to a new Mule-nium, the musical Minotaur known as The Phil Lesh Quintet was unleashed.  Part men and part beats; serving as a new age Stonehenge to the jamband world, this band marked a new day.  Naysayers scoffed as if The Q was just a jacked up Grateful Dead cover band.  The Believers knew this version of the Ship of the Sun was good, the compass was true and in time, the Naysayers became Believers.

Fast forward to this year’s Jam and The Quintet’s St. Stephen>>>The Other One>>>Somewhere Over the Rainbow>>>The Other One was about as perfect as it gets.  The Somewhere Over the Rainbow on its own was worth the price of admission for both nights. Phil-nomenal !

Karmic Equity

While making merry with your friends until the wee hours has its’ own place in our jamband world, that place is small and if you don’t watch out, that space can get really, really small. The kind of small that leaves folks sitting in parking lots with less than clever signs, begging money, wandering sketchily through campsites and parking lots searching opportunities for ill-gotten gains and wondering how in the world they are going to “get back home where  you belong” kind of small. These folks are the equivalent of the boy, Ignorance and the girl, Want. There is so much goodness and strength of spirit in our scene, nobody has to go out like that. Swing a hammer, tote some lumber, donate an organ(live a long and fruitful life before doing so), do something; make your world both a little larger and kinder.  Consider it Karmic Equity.

For more: For set lists and more check out www.xmasjam.com


Christmas Jam Figures and Facts:

  • 1.3 million dollars raised
  • 15 Years donating to Habitat For Humanity
  • 24 families are homeowners due Christmas Jam contributions
  • 150,000 dollars donated last year
  • Countless friendships created and faMuley foundations strengthened
  • Donations are accepted year round at Asheville-habitat.org