Warren Haynes Presents: The Benefit Concert, Volume 3
First Appeared in The Music Box, September 2010, Volume 17, #9
Written by John Metzger
Mon September 27, 2010, 06:30 AM CDT
For 21 years, Warren Haynes has been staging charitable holiday concerts in Asheville, North Carolina. The general gist of these affairs is this: Haynes gathers a bunch of his pals together to collaborate in a loosely knit fashion over the course of an evening. The proceeds from these shows, affectionately known as his Christmas Jam, routinely are donated to Habitat for Humanity. Initially, these assemblages of talent were relatively low-key events, but with time, they have grown in scope and stature. These days, each of Haynes’ holiday showcases typically includes a handful of bands as well as a slew of special guests that join together in song until the local curfew laws shut them down.
Warren Haynes Presents: The Benefit Concert, Volume 3 contains roughly half of the music that was performed by Haynes and his entourage on the evening of December 21, 2001. In a move that might flummox some purists, the recording has been rearranged considerably. Nevertheless, the two-disc collection doesn’t sound nearly as disjointed as one might expect. In effect, by moving the acoustic portion of the concert to the front of the endeavor and by repositioning some of its other tracks, Warren Haynes Presents: The Benefit Concert, Volume 3 achieves a level of evenhandedness that not only allows its intensity to build steadily but also masks some of its flaws.
As has been the case with all of his holiday extravaganzas, Haynes selected the performers that appear on Warren Haynes Presents: The Benefit Concert, Volume 3 for the manner in which they could highlight various aspects of his musical persona. Alvin Youngblood Hart covered the purist sense of the blues, while Blues Traveler and Drivin’ N Cryin’ mixed hard-edged rock with soul and country, respectively. Naturally, Phil Lesh & Friends brought its imaginative improvisational forays to the table, and Gov’t Mule drew the evening to its conclusion by tying together any loose ends that remained.
Like most jam-heavy endeavors, Warren Haynes Presents: The Benefit Concert, Volume 3 has its weaknesses. At its most egregious, a seemingly impromptu assemblage of Edwin McCain, Oteil Burbridge, John Popper, Danny Barnes, and Jimmy Herring wasn’t able to maintain its focus throughout a rendition of Blues Traveler’s Alone. Every time the musicians began to whip the song into shape, they quickly would scuttle the mounting surge of energy amidst a series of overly indulgent solos. Elsewhere, Drivin’ N Cryin’ never managed to escape its influences, adding a dose of Deep Purple to the AC/DC punch of Fly Me Courageous, drawing Tom Petty through the chiming chords of Broken Hearts and Auto Parts, and dabbling in Stones-worthy grit during Straight to Hell. Haynes, too, wasn’t immune to running into trouble. With Phil Lesh & Friends, he insisted on delivering the inferior Night of a Thousand Stars.
Regardless, the highlights of the show featured on Warren Haynes Presents: The Benefit Concert, Volume 3 are suitably stunning. Aided by Popper’s wailing harmonica, Hart conjured ghosts from the past with his chillingly haunted rendition of Skip James’ Devil Got My Woman. Jumping into the present, Blues Traveler put an explosive charge into Carolina Blues and embraced the thrashing funk of New York Prophesie. Meanwhile, Phil Lesh & Friends touched the stratosphere between its Little Feat-inspired reading of Loose Lucy and the blues-based swagger of Tennessee Jed. As for Gov’t Mule, it unleashed a torrid version of Blind Man in the Dark and took a bold stand in the wake of 9/11 by pairing Bob Dylan’s Masters of War with Neil Young’s Rockin’ in the Free World.
It’s safe to say that everyone went home in the wee hours of morning feeling rather fine. After all, even the flawed passages on Warren Haynes Presents: The Benefit Concert, Volume 3 likely served their purpose when viewed in person within the confines of the Asheville Civic Center.
Of Further Interest...
Warren Haynes Presents: The Benefit Concert, Volume 3 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 © 2010 The Music Box