Photos by Dino Perrucci

Warren Haynes hosted his 22nd annual Christmas Jam at Asheville, NC’s Civic Center this past Saturday. The all-star event—which benefited Habitat for Humanity—marked the first time Gov’t Mule did not perform at Christmas Jam since the mid 1990s.

As previously reported, this year’s Christmas Jam officially introduced the Warren Haynes Band, a new group featuring Ivan Neville (keys/vocals), Ron Johnson (bass), Ron Holloway (saxophone), Terence Higgins (drums) and Ruthie Foster (vocals). Haynes intends to spend much of 2011 supporting a new soul-leaning solo album with a similar version of the band. Umphrey’s McGee percussionist Andy Farag and The Dirty Dozen Brass Band Horns sat in with the Warren Haynes Band for the first two songs of its set, “Man In Motion” and “Rivers Gonna Rise.” After “Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday,” The Dirty Dozen Brass Band Horns returned for “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long.” Farag later rejoined Warren Haynes Band and The Dirty Dozen Brass Band Horns for a set-closing “Sick Of My Shadow.”

“The core band originally was going to be George Porter Jr., Ivan, Raymond Weber and myself,” Haynes says of the band featured on his forthcoming solo album. “[Producer Gordie Johnson] recommended keyboardist Ian McLagan because he was living in Austin which is where we were recording and Gordie said, ‘I’ve been doing some stuff recently with Ian and he sounds amazing. What about trying a two keyboard set up so it’d be a funk version of Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson in The Band—where there’s two keyboard players playing simultaneously? So I called Ivan and he had worked with Ian before—maybe with Keith Richards—and they were friends and were willing to give it a try.”

Before Haynes took the stage with his band, Christmas Jam opened with a short performance by Widespread Panic keyboardist JoJo Hermann’s side band Missing Cats. Hermann’s five-song set was followed by Umphrey’s McGee’s inaugural appearance at Christmas Jam. A few months after UM keyboardist Joel Cummins sat in with Panic for the first time, Widespread Panic frontman John Bell made his debut appearance with Umphrey’s McGee on a cover of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine.”

Perhaps the mini-festival’s biggest commercial draw was Steve Miller Band. The group—which took Gov’t Mule out as an opening act shortly before the death of founding bassist Allen Woody in 2000—ran through a number of its biggest hits, including “Take The Money” and “Livin’ in the USA.” The band also brought out Warren Haynes for “Further Up On The Road” as well as harmonica player Carlos Reyes for “Shubada,” “Nature Boy,” “Wild Mountain Honey” and “Dance Dance Dance.” Both Haynes and Reyes returned to the stage at the end of Steve Miller Band’s set for the anthem “Fly Like An Eagle.”

Later in the night, two of the jamband scenes most well known frontman offered unique sets. John Bell opened his segment by performing a medley of Christmas songs accompanied only by a dobro. He also offered solo takes on Widespread Panic’s “Papa’s Home” and “May Your Glass Be Filled.” After Bell’s set, Gregg Allman played seven songs with a special group that consisted of several Christmas Jam regulars: Warren Haynes, former Black Crowes guitarist Audley Freed, Wallflowers drummer Fred Eltringham and Ivan Neville. Though his first solo album in over 13 years is due out in less than a month, the only number Allman played from his new record Low Country Blues is a collaboration with Haynes called “Just Another Rider.” Both The Dirty Dozen Band Horns and saxophonist Ron Holloway helped the group through the tune, which is the only original song featured on Low Country Blues. The rest of Allman’s set consisted of Allman Brothers classics like “Midnight Rider,” “Dreams” and “Melissa” and covers such as Bob Dylan’s “Just Like A Woman” and Dr. John’s “Walk on Guilded Splinters” (the latter two songs featured Bell on vocals). Allman’s set closed with a take on “Lost Highway” that included an encore appearance by Steve Miller.

In New Orleans fashion, Christmas Jam came to a close with a late night performance by The Dirty Dozen Brass Band. The ensemble opened its spot sans guests with “Ain’t Nothing By A Party” but brought out Haynes before the set’s second song, “Papa Was A Rolling Stone.” A parade of axillary musicians made their way to the stage throughout the Dozen’s set, including on such songs as “Thats What Love Will Make You Do” (Haynes and Ron Johnson), “Spanish Moon” (Haynes, Johnson, Ivan Neville and Artimus Pyle), “Superstitious” (Bell and Ron Holloway) and “Use Me” (Haynes, Bell and Holloway).

Here’s a look at Christmas Jam’s setlists by band


Smiling Assassin
The Slaughter
Step On Over Me
Over Lubbuck


Ain’t No Sunshine w/ John Bell
Miss Tinkles Overture
All In Time

WARREN HAYNES BAND (Warren Haynes, Ivan Neville, Ron Johnson, Terrance Higgins, Ron Holloway & Ruthie Foster)

Man In Motion w/ Andy Farag on Percussion & The Dirty Dozen Brass Band Horns
Rivers Gonna Rise w/ Andy Farag on Percussion & The Dirty Dozen Brass Band Horns
Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday
I’ve Been Loving You Too Long w/ The Dirty Dozen Brass Band Horns
Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley
Sick Of My Shadow w/ Andy Farag on Percussion & The Dirty Dozen Brass Band Horns


Jet Airliner
Take The Money
Mercury Blues
Further Up On The Road w/ Warren Haynes
Just Got Back From Texas
Ooo Poo Pah Do w/ Carlos Reyes on Harp
Shubada w/ Carlos Reyes on Harp
Nature Boy w/ Carlos Reyes on Harp
Wild Mountain Honey w/ Carlos Reyes on Harp
Dance Dance Dance w/ Carlos Reyes on Harp
The Stake
Livin In The USA
Fly Like An Eagle w/ Warren Haynes & w/ Carlos Reyes on Harp


Dobro Christmas Medley
Papa’s Home
May Your Glass Be Filled

GREGG ALLMAN BAND (Gregg Allman, Warren Haynes, Audley Freed, Fred Eltringham, Ivan Neville)

Midnight Rider
Just Another Rider> w/ Dirty Dozen Band Horns & Ron Holloway
Dreams w/ Ron Holloway
Just Like A Woman w/ John Bell
Walk on Guilded Splinters w/ Dirty Dozen Band Horns & John Bell
Lost Highway w/ Steve Miller


Ain’t Nothing By A Part>
Papa Was A Rolling Stone w/ Warren Haynes
Thats What Love Will Make You Do w/ Ron Johnson & Warren Haynes
Spanish Moon w/ Warren Haynes, Ron Johnson, Ivan Neville & Artimus Pyle
Superstitious w/ John Bell, Ron Holloway
Use Me w/ Warren Haynes, John Bell & Ron Holloway