When I first heard of Warren Haynes I knew him as the hardest working man in the jam band scene. He was playing for two of the biggest acts in the genre, The Allman Brothers and The Dead, as well as playing with his own band Gov’t Mule and doing some solo work. While The Allmans are no more and The Dead have moved on, Warren still plays with multiple bands throughout the year. His latest band is in support of the great Ashes and Dust album that came out last year and consists of ChessBoxer and drummer extraordinaire Jeff Sipe. The band might lean towards country at first look with banjos, violins, and upright basses, but the band can jam with any band out there today in whatever genre you through their way.
The Egg in Albany, NY hosted the closing show of the East Coast leg of the tour and smiles were plenty as the band went into an instrumental “Imagine” followed swiftly by “Is It Me or You” and “Patchwork Quilt.” Warren briefly welcomed the audience and talked about the band, the tour, and the album. He said the idea behind it was to just do something a little different and that it’s been great so far. Throughout the night the interplay between the band members was electric. Songs that don’t usually have a country feel to it like Little Feat’s “Skin It Back” or Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower,” sounded great with violins and mandolins and banjos trading solos alongside Warren’s guitar. The extra texture of these instruments took the music to another level.
The highlight of the night was a wild cover of The Allman Brothers classic “Instrumental Illness,” that was more free form jazz than rock and roll. The song leaped and bounded through many phases and saw each member take a turn wowing the crowd. As the song ended the crowd erupted in such appreciation that Warren had to take a moment to thank them before starting the next song. “Stranded in Self Pity” off Ashes and Dust also saw each member take a crack at soloing, but with the song being more bluesy the band had to really dig into their instruments rather than just play quickly to impress.
A left turn into a Radiohead suite of “Karma Police” into a wild “Paranoid Android” jam and back into the ending of “Karma Police” let the crowd rock out hard. Heads were banging in time during the jam section of the suite throughout the venue and some even got up and danced to it. A terrific Jeff Sipe drum solo followed where it was almost impossible to keep up with where his arms were going. While most bands skip the drum solo these days, it was great to witness just how terrific Jeff is at his instrument. The full band was soon back out to close the set with a great “Spots of Time.”
A standing ovation followed as the band left for all of a minute. With a quick thank you Warren led the band through a couple of classics that he could play in his sleep, Jerry Garcia’s “Loser” and The Allman Brothers’ “Jessica” that had a few “Mountain Jam” teases thrown in for good measure. Warren really let loose on his guitar through both songs to cap the evening off. He may have played these songs 100’s of times in his career, but you wouldn’t know it last night. It seemed as though they could have kept playing forever, but all good things must come to an end. The West Coast might be calling them now, but hopefully Warren can bring this group back East for one more go around.
Article: Bryan Lasky