12.18.14 JamBase Interview - Around The Horn With Warren Haynes
When Warren Haynes is involved, there’s no time to waste -- there’s simply too much to talk about with the man whenever we’re fortunate enough to grab his time.
Following another epic Christmas Jam, and with Gov’t Mule’s New Year’s Eve shows and a tour with John Scofield coming up as part of a typically action-packed year ahead, we went around the horn with Uncle Warren:
JAMBASE:Warren, another Christmas Jam in the books. How was it from your vantage point?
WARREN HAYNES: I really thought it was excellent. I thought the music was wonderful, and everyone rose to the occasion.
JB: Vince Gill couldn’t make it, but obviously the show must go on. Was it the plan to do that Marshall Tucker Band set with him?
WH: Yeah, originally we were going to do several of Vince’s songs and then a short Marshall Tucker tribute with Vince and his keyboard player as well. When we got the call that he wouldn’t be available, we decided to do it anyway with Jack Pearson and Danny Louis. We had a short rehearsal and it came out wonderful.
JB:What was your favorite collaboration moment of the show?
WH: Wow, that’s tough. I enjoyed all the stuff we did with Marshall Tucker, the Neil Young stuff with Jackie, playing with Billy and the Kids was really cool. You know doing “Helpless” with myself and Jackie and Jason Isbell and Neal Casal trading verses was really cool. That was going to be Vince instead of Neal originally, but Neal filled in and did a wonderful job. The whole night, though. It was a lot of jamming, but it didn’t get too esoteric, which is to say it came off well for the crowd in a way that was both cool and experimental.
JB:From a personal favorite standpoint, it’s always fun to see you with Jack Pearson I have to say.
WH: Yeah that was great. I’m so glad Jack played. His band played the Orange Peel the night before and it was great.
JB:It seems in recent years you’ve moved away from doing kind of a big, pile- on finale and opted for a more organic fade-out at the end, just a last song usually from the Mule. Accurate you think?
WH: You know every year is a little different. We wanted to give Billy and the Kids a nice long set. They came a long way to be with us and they like to play a long time. The obvious thing would have been to have them close, and I do think it’s nice when someone other than Gov’t Mule can close the show. Speaking selfishly for me -- I’m still punching the clock until Mule’s done! [laughs]
But it has to make musical sense, too, and it has to be a connection with the audience that makes sense. Kreutzmann doing the Dead stuff kept people jumping and dancing -- that’s really nice. Mule has closed it so many times, so it was nice to do something different. Originally we were going to do a few more original songs but again, having done that many times, it was cool to do that short set of Neil Young covers with Jackie and then the stuff with Audley [Freed] and Caleb Johnson -- a couple of rockers.
JB:I understand you and Caleb Johnson met only just before the show?
WH: We met the day before, and he’s a really nice guy and a great singer. We had talked on the phone before that about some song selections but we didn’t actually meet face to face until the day before. He really fit the Christmas Jam spirit well I thought.
JB:Well let’s look ahead. You have New Year’s with the Mule coming up and a lot of dates already on the books for 2015. Folks have been buzzing about these Sco- Mule shows and we’ve talked about the long-awaited album release of course. What format will these take? Is John going to play with Mule the whole show?
WH: It will probably be the equivalent of one set with and one set without John. It may vary from night to night, maybe he’ll play in parts of both sets. We’re going to expand the repertoire far beyond what we’ve done with him to date. I mean John and I have worked together in Phil Lesh & Friends so we can tap into that catalog a little bit, tap into his repertoire, tap into Gov’t Mule, tap into outside instrumental songs or non- instrumental songs...the sky’s the limit. We’re getting better at figuring out how to approach it but the chemistry between us was there at the very beginning.
JB: You’ve shared your stage with a lot of guitar players. What’s playing with Scofield like for you?
WH: He’s one of my absolute favorites. He’s really pushing me to bring my A- game and pull out different parts of my musical vocabulary that maybe I don’t normally focus on as much. But I think we push each other to play differently. The first time we played together he played a little bit more rock and bluesy and I played a little bit more jazzy and experimental. We keep leaning toward each other that way. It’s a real honor for me to play with him.
JB:Will there be more Sco-Mule dates beyond what’s been announced?
WH: I hope so. You know one reason it’s taken until now to release this record is because we always wanted to do a tour to promote it. That’s not the only reason but one of the reasons, and now that we’re embarking on that finally, we will look at the possibility of more.