music / Columns

Jam Central Station: Warren Haynes

January 26, 2019 | Posted by Jeff Modzelewski



For years, James Brown claimed the title of “hardest working man in show business.” I don’t know exactly how he earned that title, but I won’t argue the point whether or not he earned it. However, with Brown’s death a couple of years ago, it’s time that title would be passed on. There’s plenty of artists in the jam band community that could potentially lay claim to that title, but I can think of none more fitting than the legendary guitarist Warren Haynes.
Haynes was born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina, a well-known musical and artistic hotbed. He began playing guitar as a kid, and was influenced by a variety of styles. Due to it’s location, Asheville brings in a unique blend of Southern rock, country music, and Appalachian music. Haynes was already known around Asheville through playing bars and clubs in the area when he received his first big break. David Allen Coe’s bassist, Mickey Hayes, saw Haynes performing in an Asheville club, and brought Haynes to the attention of Coe. Haynes quickly became a part of Coe’s band, and was touring and recording with Coe at the age of 20.
Haynes would work with Coe for the next four years. It was during this time that he began to make other connections in the music world, and to build his reputation as a solid songwriter and guitar player. He built a strong friendship with Hayes, and also had the opportunity to play with Dickey Betts and Gregg Allman in Coe’s studio. Haynes and Hayes left Coe’s band in 1984 to embark on their own band. The moved to Nashville and formed The Rich Hippies. The band only lasted a year, however, and Haynes then was invited to become a member of the well known blues band The Nighthawks. During this time, Haynes also continued to write his own songs and perform solo shows in Nashville.
After a couple years of playing with The Nighthawks, along with working as a songwriter and studio musician, Haynes got a call from Dickey Betts. The former Allman Brother was in the process of building his own band at the time. Betts originally just planned on having Haynes do some backup vocals, but, after playing together, invited him to join the band. He played on Betts’ 1989 album Pattern Disruptive and toured as a part of the Dickey Betts Band.
Playing with Dickey Betts was another huge break for Haynes. What this led to, however, is not something that he could’ve expected. A year after the release of Pattern Disruptive,The Allman Brothers decided to reunite. While discussing how to fill in the gaps left in the band, Betts strongly campaigned for Haynes to be a part of the re-formed band. Haynes went out on tour with the band for their 20th anniversary tour, and suddenly found himself playing a vital role in a legendary band. Haynes inclusion led to a period of solid protection from the Brothers, who released three studio albums in four years. Haynes was a major contributor to those albums, both as a guitarist and a songwriter.
It was also during this time that Haynes released his first solo album. Tales of Ordinary Madness came out in 1993, and Haynes toured behind that album between tours with the Allman’s. In 1994, while the Allman Brothers were on a break, he, along with Allen Woody and Matt Abts, founded a side project. Gov’t Mule released their first album in 1995 and planned tours around the scheduled Allman Brothers tours. In 1997, after realizing that The Allman Brothers had no plans to record new music, he and Woody left the band to pursue Gov’t Mule full time.
Haynes was becoming recognized more and more as a musical force, and Gov’t Mule quickly gained respect from a wide array of musicians. They released Dose in 1997 and Life Before Insanity in 2000, along with a live album recorded with a number of special guests. Things didn’t continue to go smoothly for the band, however. Allen Woody passed away in 2000, leading to the first shakeup in the Mule lineup. The band decided to carry on, dedicating their subsequent tour to Woody’s memory.
At a tribute show for Woody, Haynes sat in with The Allman Brothers for the first time 1997, and was soon a touring member of the band again. He also continued building a friendship with Grateful Dead founder Phil Lesh. When Lesh was looking to make a record, he called on Haynes to be a part of the band. Haynes soon found himself splitting time again between Gov’t Mule, the Allman Brothers, and Phil Lesh & Friends. Haynes only recorded one album with Phil Lesh & Friends (2002’s There and Back Again), but he toured with the band from 2000 through 2003.
Haynes rise continued in 2004, when he was invited to play guitar with the remaining members of The Grateful Dead as a part of The Dead. Haynes sang and played lead guitar for the band during their 2004 tour, and came back to the band when they re-formed for their 2009 shows. While he wasn’t a part of the “Fare Thee Well” finale in 2015 he was the longest-serving guitarist to step into the “Jerry” role for the Dead after Garcia’s death.
Despite these other bands, Gov’t Mule has continued to record and perform at a full-time rate. They’ve released numerous studio and live albums, played nearly every festival (normally in either a headliner or pre-headliner role), and toured almost whenever Haynes wasn’t busy with another project. Andy Hess initially replaced Allen Woody in Mule, but left the band in 2008. Jorgen Carlsson has since taken up that role, but Haynes continues to lead that group. Haynes has also released a pair of love albums himself, including a spectacular solo performance from the 2003 Bonnaroo festival.
Along with his music, Haynes is still extremely active in the Asheville community. He hosts an annual “Christmas Jam” concert, which has attracted artists like Trey Anastasio, Dave Matthews, members of Widespread Panic, and many others. This benefit raises money for Habitat for Humanity. He continues to live in Asheville (when he’s not on the road), and stays involved in the community in a variety of ways.
In recent years Haynes has also released a pair of solo albums. His 2011 album Man in Motion was a significantly funkier affair than other work that he’s done, featuring an extensive backing band and a much more soulful sound than other work that he’s done. The band that backed him on that album featured members of The Faces and The Meters, helping to solidify the sound on the album. Ashes and Dust was released in 2015, and was a collaborative effort between Haynes and modern bluegrass heavyweights Railroad Earth. The album featured the best of both worlds, and Haynes put together a cast of bluegrass heavyweights for his “Ashes & Dust Band” that he has been touring with to support the album. In 2013, Haynes and Derek Trucks announced they were leaving The Allman Brothers Band in order to pursue other opportunities. This announcement led to the band performing their final shows in October 2013.
Gov’t Mule again became Warren’s full-time focus after the end of the Allman Bros. They’ve released three very diverse albums since 2013 as well multiple live collections, including two different versions of the band performing Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. While Warren continues to make the rounds, since the end of the Allman Brothers Gov’t Mule has been his primary output.
As I stated earlier, Warren Haynes could easily be the hardest working man in music today. He’s recorded over two dozen album with half a dozen acts. He has balanced multiple bands like no other artist, touring with Gov’t Mule, The Allman Brothers, The Dead, and various other acts, often one right after the other. He’s a primary songwriter in every band he records with, and has written songs for a variety of other artists. Haynes is a phenomenal guitarist, and a leader in the current jam band music scene.



Dave Matthews Band announce 2019 dates
The Dave Matthews Band announced their summer tour dates this week. It’s similar to their typical summer run. They’ll kick off on 4/30 in Florida and hit most of the major stops throughout the country, including multi-day stops in Camden, Deer Creek, Alpine Valley, SPAC, and the Gorge.

Dopapod schedules return
After taking all of 2018 off Dopapod will return with a show on 4/27 at the Capitol Theatre. No word on other dates at this point, but I’d expect them to be added to some festivals before the summer comes around.


International Incident
January 25-28
Runaway Bay, Jamaica
The String Cheese Incident, Keller Williams

Panic en la Playa Ocho
January 25-29
Riviera Maya, Mexico

Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds Riviera Maya
February 15-17
Riviera Maya, Mexico

Phish in Riviera Maya
February 21-23
Riviera Maya, Mexico

Winter Wondergrass Colorado
February 22-24
Steamboat Springs, CO
Trampled by Turtles, Railroad Earth, The Infamous Stringdusters, Fruition, Billy Strings, The California Honeydrops, Della Mae with Bonnie Paine, Jeff Austin Band, The Shook Twins

Suwannee Spring Reunion
March 21-24
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oak, FL
Steep Canyon Rangers, Billy Strings, Peter Rowan, Donna the Buffalo, Larry Keel Experience, John Stickley Trio

Winter Wondergrass California
March 29-31
Squaw Valley, CA
Greensky Bluegrass, Trampled by Turtles, Leftover Salmon, Sam Bush Band, ALO, Fruition, Billy Strings, Jeff Austin Band, The Travelin’ McCoury’s

Bender Jamboree
April 11-14
Plaza Hotel & Casino
Las Vegas, NV
Greensky Bluegrass, Railroad Earth, The Infamous Stringdusters, Leftover Salmon, Keller Williams, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Billy Strings

Sweetwater 420 Festival
April 19-21
Centennial Olympic Park
Atlanta, GA
Widespread Panic, The Avett Brothers, Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, Rebelution, Moon Taxi, The Claypool Lennon Delirium, Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass, Turkuaz

May 16-18
Marvin’s Mountaintop
Masontown, WV
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong (x5), Aqueous, Litz, Mungion, Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers

May 23-26
Cumberland, MD
The Del McCoury Band, The String Cheese Incident, The Travelin’ McCourys, Trampled by Turtles, Railroad Earth, The Marcus King Band, Billy Strings

Summer Camp Music Festival
May 23-26
Three Sisters Park
Chillicothe, IL
moe., Umphrey’s McGee, Big Gigantic, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Trampled by Turtles, Blues Traveler, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Spafford, ALO

Dark Star Jubilee
May 24-26
Legend Valley
Thornville, OH
3 nights of Dark Star Orchestra, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Leftover Salmon, Billy Strings, Dumpstaphunk, The Lil’ Smokies, Donna the Buffalo, The Nth Power

Camp Greensky
June 6-8
Wellston, MI

June 13-16
Manchester, TN
Phish, The Lumineers, The Avett Brothers, GRiZ, Nahko & Medicine for the People, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Jim James, Trampled By Turtles, The Wood Brothers, Shovels & Rope, The Record Company

Keller in the Caverns
June 21-23
Pelham, TN
2 Keller Williams performances as well as Pettygrass, More Than A Little, and a Grateful Gospel Brunch

Telluride Bluegrass Festival
June 20-23
Telluride, CO
Brandi Carlisle, Sam Bush Band, Jim James, Greensky Bluegrass, Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, Yonder Mountain String Band, Leftover Salmon: Stories from the Living Room, Punch Brothers, Railroad Earth

Electric Forest
June 27-30
Double JJ Ranch & Resort
Rothbury, MI
3 nights of The String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar, Lettuce, The Floozies, TAUK, Spafford, Twiddle, Ghost Light, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, The Nth Power, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades

Smoky Run Music Festival
June 28-30
Butler, OH
Gov’t Mule, Trampled by Turtles, Railroad Earth, Deer Tick, Son Volt, The Travelin’ McCoury’s & Jeff Austin Band present Grateful Ball, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, Rumpke Mountain Boys

July 4-6
Snow Ridge Ski Resort
Turin, NY

High Sierra
July 4-7
Quincy, CA
Greensky Bluegrass, Jim James, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Galactic, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, ALO, Marcus King Band

Camp Bisco
July 18-20
Montage Mountain
Scranton, PA

FloydFest 19 “Journey Home”
July 24-28
Floyd, VA
Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band, The String Cheese Incident, Brandi Carlile Tyler Childers, Margo Price, Fantastic Negrito, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Keller Williams’ Grateful Grace featuring Love Cannon

Peach Music Festival
July 25-28
Montage Mountain
Scranton, PA
Phil Lesh & Friends, Trey Anastasio Band, The String Cheese Incident, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, moe., Greensky Bluegrass, Lotus, Lettuce, Infamous Stringdusters, Yonder Mountain String Band, Allman Betts Band, Billy Strings

Lockn’ Festival
August 22-25
Arrington, VA


Thanks again for stopping by. I’ll be back next week with more jam. Until then, check me out on Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute concert announcements. Until next week, Jam On!