Oh, it’s that time of the year again. The smell of holly and eggnog in the air, cool winds creeping through the Blue Ridge Mountains, and just beyond the sleigh bells-a-ringing, you can hear ol’ St. Warren Haynes shredding a guitar riff. All things considered, Haynes is more than a ‘famous’ rock and blues guitarist. He has played with the best of them, being a regular installment of The Dead, The Allman Brothers and his own Gov’t Mule. During his “never-ending tour” of a life, he has connected musically and mentally with many talented artists, forging a musical family of sorts. For 27 years he has been gathering his friends in his hometown of Asheville, North Carolina for a massive benefit concert known as Christmas Jam. Just in the past few years, The Jam has seen such artists as Phil Lesh and Friends, Widespread Panic, The String Cheese Incident, The Tedeschi Trucks Band, The Doobie Brothers and John Popper. Warren has the ability to create a community around musical tradition, giving jam fans a unique show every year.
For this year’s 28th Christmas Jam, Warren brought on his old friend Bob Weir. This man needs no introduction, though it is worth noting that his recent solo album Blue Mountain and his supporting Campfire Band tour were both beyond phenomenal. Other artists include Michael McDonald of The Doobie Brothers, a duet of Jamey Johnson and Alison Krauss, and an extension of Warren’s coveted project, The Last Waltz Band. Having a wildly successful first run in New Orleans last April, he has decided to bring it to Asheville. Under famed musical director Don Was, the super group includes Haynes, McDonald, Johnson, John Medeski, Terrence Higgins and more.
Christmas Jam is always known for having some pretty heavy hitters lending their talents to various performances, and this year’s special guests will be saxophonist Branford Marsalis, guitarist Steve Kimock, as well as George Porter Jr., Marcus King, Kevn Kinney, Audley Freed, Bob Margolin and Mike Barnes, with more to be announced.
Warren Haynes’ Christmas Jam is about more than an all out blues and rock party. It is about the holiday season representing a time for us to gather and give back. Warren has worked hard to turn this event into a fruitful charity to the Asheville area, his hometown and musical sanctuary. He has worked closely with Habitat For Humanity to raise over $2 million from the Jams, providing houses for 36 families in the area, spearheading the Hudson Hills subdivision, and he’s even been known to get up there on the ladder from time to time. Ol’ St. Warren is the man that really knows how to ring in the holidays to Asheville. Though tickets may be sold out, Asheville will be a lively town all weekend with daytime and after-party shows happening Friday and Saturday.
Written by William Crowell