The annual Christmas Jam took place last night at the U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville, NC with a slew of collaborations on the night as Bob Weir, Gov’t Mule, Eric Krasno, George Porter Jr., John Medeski, Allison Krauss, Branford Marsalis and many others appeared throughout.
For starters, Holly Bowling offered up her piano arrangements of Grateful Dead and Phish tunes, kicking the night off with tunes like “Cryptical Envelopment,” “Taste” and “The Inlaw Josie Wales.” Bowling would reappear later on in the night for a few intermission sets, mixing in curs like “Help On the Way,” “Bird Song,” “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing” and “Crazy Fingers,” among others.
Haynes then hit the stage for his customary, brief solo set on the night, playing “The Real Thing” and “And It Stoned Me” before country artist Jamey Johnson welcomed Allison Krauss during his set. Krauss would sit in numerous times throughout the night.
A funk superjam of sorts commenced shortly thereafter as George Porter Jr., Eric Krasno and John Medeski took the stage for a funk set with the help of Branford Marsalis (who also joined Michael McDonald on “I Keep Forgettin’” later on in the evening), Terence Higgins and Marcus King throughout the night. The band also brought out Weir for a take on “Sugaree” as well as “Iko Iko.”
Weir started his set solo, with an early take on “Easy to Slip” before welcoming Alison Krauss for “Peggy O.” Weir’s core band on this night included longtime collaborator Steve Kimock as well as drummer Duane Trucks and Don Was. The quartet dipped into Blue Mountain tunes “Ghost Town” and “Only a River” before welcoming Warren Haynes, Holly Bowling and Branford Marsalis for “He’s Gone” and a closing segment that featured “Eyes of the World,” “Truckin’” and “Ripple” before departing.
Christmas Jam also honored the famed Last Waltz with a special set led by Warren Haynes, Michael McDonald, Don Was, Jamey Johnson, John Medeski and Terence Higgins. The group dug into tunes like “Up On Cripple Creek,” “The Shape I’m In,” “Georgia On My Mind” and “The Weight,” featuring Bob Weir and Krauss. The vocalist would also reappear on “Helpless” before Bob Margolin and Smokey Greenwell sat in on “Mannish Boy” and “Further On Up the Road.”
Headliners Gov’t Mule took the stage with a number of special guests to close out the evening, kicking things off with drummer Rocky Lindsley leading the way on “Mule” and “32/30 Blues,” with the latter featuring Mike Barnes, Marcus King and Smoky Greenwell. “Sco-Mule” found Jeff Sipe join the fold along with Branford Marsalis, with the closing combo of “Dreams” and “Mountain Jam” finding Duane Trucks relieving Lindsley on drums and Paul Riddle, Steve Kimock and Marsalis helping bring the evening to a close.