WARREN HAYNES performed a special two night event at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium in Asheville, North Carolina last week-end. The “Dreams & Songs – A Symphonic Journey” performance was backed by the Asheville Symphony and his band, which included legends, Oteil Burbridge, Jeff Sipe, John Medeski, Jasmine Muhammad, Greg Osby and Edwin McCain. Proceeds of this 7654 seated venue were given to charity. Warren does several charity events in Asheville every year and is to the Asheville music scene what Jerry Garcia is to Haight/Ashbury, Kurt Cobain is to Seattle, or what Paul Simon is to Central Park. Haynes pulls that weight in this gorgeous city famous for food, breweries, mountains and music.
The ensemble performed songs from the catalogs of Haynes’ own Gov’t Mule, The Allman Brothers Band and The Grateful Dead culminating in a rendition of Terrapin Station before the break that got so deep into my head that I couldn’t shake the song for four days. In fact, writing these lines is making me sing the song in my mind hearing Haynes’ pitch perfect voice. It’s not surprising that Phil Lesh and Bob Weir welcomed Warren as a fill in for Jerry Garcia.
Oteil Burbridge brought style and flare to his bass playing that put smiles on the faces of the audience who were fans of the entire ensemble. Medeski’s keyboard meshed with the Asheville Symphony as a soundtrack to Haynes’ playing while Jeff Sipe simply blew the audience away with his “in the pocket” drumming. He carried the entire band and orchestra with some of the most perfect drumming I’ve ever seen and heard in my 25 year career as a music photographer.
“Shakedown Street” and Howlin’ Wolf’s “Smokestack Lightning” were also highlights as the crowd of neo-hippies mixed in with white haired orchestra fans got to their feet. “Whipping Post” gave Oteil Burbridge fans something to smile about as the song kickoff was his moment to shine.
To sum up the “Symphonic Journey”, Haynes deserves all the credit for bringing this event together with Asheville Symphony guest conducted by Rich Daniels, the versatile musical director of The City Lights Orchestra in Chicago. I don’t know what goes into rehearsing and putting together an event of such magnitude, but the ensemble played a two set show over two and a half hours together with Haynes band playing an encore that was almost as long as an entire third set. The entire production was beautiful, immaculate, and second to none, leaving all concert goers extremely impressed!