Warren Haynes Presents: The Benefit Concert Volume 20
(Evil Teen / Mascot Label Group)
The Benefit Concert Volume 20 presents in grand style the 30th anniversary of Warren Haynes’ Christmas Jam, held over two nights in 2018 in his hometown of Asheville, North Carolina. Since 1988, Haynes has gathered friends from across an incredibly wide musical spectrum to play for hours on end to benefit charity, most significantly the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity. Starting with the 1999 event (when it became a national attraction), Haynes began releasing recordings of the Jams as The Benefit Concert. Although only six have followed since, this edition falls naturally into the order as Volume 20. The audio and video components of the deluxe edition (3 CDs & 2 Blueray discs at a bargain price) differ in content, but taken together, offer 52 one-off performances and collaborations by more than a dozen exceptional artists.
A key member of The Allman Brothers Band, Phil Lesh & Friends, the Dead, and the leader of Gov’t Mule for 30 years, Warren Haynes possesses uncommon talent, cutting to the essence of topics and experiences with a pen, guitar, and in powerful voice. He draws inspiration from, plays with, and attracts practically any musician with true heart and grit. Eric Church, Grace Potter, Jim James, Joe Bonamassa, and Dave Grohl were the main attractions at this special affair, besides of course Haynes and his band Gov’t Mule.
Haynes, Potter, and James work up a shimmering acoustic take on Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks gem, “Gold Dust Woman.” With “Revolution Come, Revolution Go,” Gov’t Mule displays all the aspects and ideals that make them such an imaginative, enjoyable, and enduring rock band. Longtime Pink Floyd disciples, they even reprised their “Dark Side of the Mule” set here (and toured it again this past summer, which may in part account for this release). With Ron Holloway on sax, their excursion through “Any Color You Like,” from Dark Side of the Moon, makes a lesser-known piece from that landmark album shine like a diamond.
Dave Grohl’s 36 minutes of instrumental “Play,” inspired by his having watched children at their school’s band practice, plays out just that way—jarring but tuneful improvisation, Grohl’s inner Yes peeking out from behind a constantly fluttering curtain. Less demanding of patience, Grohl and Haynes play an acoustic version of Foo Fighters’ “Times Like These” together, Grohl animated and catching, and just plain fun to listen to.
Tyler Ramsey of Band of Horses mesmerizes with “1000 Black Birds,” and Jam mainstay Edwin McCain shouts to the heavens on “I’ve Seen a Love.” Both stand alone with their guitars and stand singularly. Country music’s Jamey Johnson and Eric Church each deliver riveting songs seeped in southern spirit. Joe Bonamassa and his full-bodied band cover Jeff Beck’s “Spanish Boots” and Led Zeppelin’s “Tea for One” (via Willie Dixon’s “I Can’t Quit You Baby”) beautifully, galvanizing the songs, and most certainly the audience, with tasteful scintillating tastes of enduring British blues-rock. And there are so many more songs that will touch so many fans.
The 32nd Christmas Jam will take place December 9th starring Slash & Myles Kennedy, Billy F. Gibbons, and Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Evening. Just as this Benefit Concert Volume 20 was, it will be a one-of-a-kind experience in a charming town.
Tom Clarke for MAS
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