With the Grateful Dead jamming their way into retirement earlier this month, it’s no secret that the number of legendary jam band acts still touring is beginning to fade into the sun. Although you still see the Phish’s and DMB’s of the music world, the true legends of the bygone era in music are beginning to go the way of the jazz musician. Warren Haynes however, is one of the few last remaining links to when bluesy rock and jam-style music was a touring caravan; with thousands of dedicated fans would take a ‘leave of absence’ from real life to follow their favorite bands and artists from city to city. As a former member of The Allman Brother’s Band and of course his incredible guitar work with Gov’t Mule, Warren Haynes is one of the all-time greats as a songwriter and performer.
My first time experiencing Warren in a live setting, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the guitar legend, or from his passionate fans, whom you could tell have been following him for years around the country with whatever band he’d be touring with at the time. Though it was a seated venue, fans would be out in the aisles, standing up by the stage, and speaking/yelling freely to him in between songs. The close and intimate connection between Warren and his longtime fans was truly like nothing you experience with most young artists today. Perhaps that’s the reason he chose to play at The Town Hall, as Warren could’ve easily filled any of the Bowery Presents venues, even Central Park SummerStage, or perhaps Celebrate Brooklyn. The intimacy of his music and his fans really enhances the entire experience, and certainly helped a first timer understand why people follow his bands around for months to experience his show every night.
Currently on tour in support of his new folk-based album Ashes & Dust, which he recorded and performed with Railroad Earth. More of a singer-songwriter based album, Warren’s new material that he played throughout the first half of his set featured a style of music not typically associated with his rich catalog of bluesy rock classics. Still, the true musician and performer he is, Warren takes a more vulnerable approach to the new tunes, which sounded as amazing live as they do on the album.
Warren’s two-part set featured songs off Ashes & Dust the first half, and a shorter second set featuring Allman Brothers, Dead, and even a Garth Brooks cover to close out the night. The entire first half of the set featured nine out of ten new songs including “Coal Tattoo,” “Is It Me or You,” “Wanderlust,” “Glory Road” and “Beat Down The Dust.” All of which may be an unusual style for those more used to Warren’s more traditional playing, but really showcased his and his Americana/folk style of songs across the album. There was certainly fantastic slide guitar solos and brilliant fretwork across the new catalog, and it was great hearing mandolin parts on his songs.
After closing out the first set with a familiar “Spots of Time,” Warren came out with crowd favorites including Allman Bros’ “Soulshine,” Phil Lesh’s “Patchwork Quilt,” The Dead’s “Comes A Time,” and closed out the night with a brilliant cover of Garth Brooks’ “Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a Full House.”
Article: Tom Shackleford
Photos: Shayne Hanley