Warren Haynes Presents:
The Benefit Concert, Volume 2
First Appeared in The Music Box, April 2007, Volume 14, #4
Written by John Metzger
Each year since 1989, during the Christmas holiday season, Warren Haynes has been holding court in his hometown of Asheville, North Carolina in order to raise money for charity. Beginning in 1999, however, his forays grew considerably more ambitious. Selecting Habitat for Humanity as his sole beneficiary, Haynes turned his Christmas Jam concert from a low-key acoustic affair into a major event by cajoling what has become a rotating group of headlining acts as well as a small army of special guests to participate. As evidenced by the two-disc, 150-minute running-time of Warren Haynes Presents: The Benefit Concert, Volume 2, the artists involved have been extraordinarily generous with their time, and stunningly, the set contains only a portion of the music that was performed at the 12th annual gathering, which was held on December 21, 2000 at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium.
Even in its edited format, however, Warren Haynes Presents: The Benefit Concert, Volume 2 contains more material than most fans will care to hear. It rambles and meanders, sometimes quite aimlessly. In addition, the constricting nature of the abbreviated time slots — a problem that is inherent to all multi-act benefit shows — meant that most of the outfits were forced to leave the stage just as their music was beginning to congeal. For all of the angst that it brought to a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s Who Knows, Chris Duarte Group’s repetitive undercurrent and churning guitar never succeeded in achieving transcendence, and John Popper’s fumbled guitar solos did more to undermine Alone than they did to elevate it. In a similar fashion, Aquarium Rescue Unit puzzlingly is represented by four tunes — Elevator to the Moon, a cover of Bukka White’s Fixin’ to Die, and a meshing of David Earle Johnson’s Time Is Free with its original composition Jack the Rabbit — and none of the selections obtain any semblance of traction.
Nevertheless, there are some stellar moments to be found within the 22 songs that are featured on the set. With Dave Schools on bass, Gov’t Mule transformed Tom Waits’ Goin’ Out West into a southern-fried stampede, while Popper’s mournful harmonica accompaniment spun off Haynes’ stinging guitar solos to put the tormented anguish into Mountains Win Again, which had been dedicated to Allen Woody and Bobby Sheehan, the duo’s recently departed comrades. The real fireworks, however, came during the Allman Brothers Band’s performance. With most of its members having appeared throughout the evening, the ensemble was sufficiently warmed up and ready to go. Both Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More and Statesboro Blues were galvanizing and forceful, and with the help of Floyd Miles and Paul Riddle, the collective tore into Born under a Bad Sign with a vengeance, making it the highlight of the concert as well as the endeavor. For the record, there’s nothing egregiously deficient about any of the material on Warren Haynes Presents: The Benefit Concert, Volume 2. Fans just have to work a bit to find its stronger passages. At the very least, they can take comfort in knowing that the money raised from the sale of the album will go to a good cause.
Of Further Interest...
The Benefit Concert, Volume 2 is available from
Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2007 The Music Box