Warren Haynes Ogden Theatre, Denver, CO 4/1/16
photos and words by Bill McAlaine
Warren Haynes swept through Denver on April Fool’s Day, with his newest collaboration, the Ashes & Dust band which has been touring behind his newest album, of the same name. Though Haynes has explored all kinds of music throughout his career, this side of him delves deeper into the bluegrass acoustic realm, and shines yet another bright light on the capabilities of one of the most versatile and talented touring musicians of our time. Backed by all the players, in the string based band, ChessBoxer, and his old friend Jeff Sipe on drums, the Ashes & Dust Band is a solid mix of eclectic musicians that are masters of their craft.
The sold out Ogden Theatre crowd welcomed Haynes with open arms, and a readiness to soak in his new project. Kicking things off with the title track, “Is it Me or Is it You,” it became immediately apparent that we were in for a magical night that would highlight the unique stylings of each player and their quickly polished connections with one another, in what seemed like an ensemble that had been playing together for many years. The diverse repertoire powered on with a stunning rendition of “Patchwork Quilt,” which is a note to the late Jerry Garcia, and included several songs from the new album including “Company Man,” “Stranded in Self Pity” and “Spots in Time,” which featured a rollicking “Ants Marching Jam.” The highlight of the night appeared as a tribute to the Beatles, with a magnificent presentation of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” that showcased the banjo stylings of Ross Holmes and the sublime fiddle arrangements of Matt Menefee. Reaching back in to the days of the Allman Brothers, the band puts its own unique twist and style into “Come into My Kitchen.” “Blue Sky” and “Jessica,” while meshing together their unique blend of string-styled rock and roll, and the signature vocals and axe, from the man himself.
Feeding off the vocal audience energy, Ashes & Dust brought the whirlwind, of a show home, with the blissful “Angel Band” into the crowd-favorite anthem, “Soulshine” for their first encore. As the packed house continued its roar of admiration, a second encore followed, that highlighted the show opener Jonathan Tyler and bandmates, Chase McGillis, Ryan Ake and Aaron Haynes for “Two Of A Kind Blues” which led into “Pride & Joy” and then back into “Two Of A Kind Blues.” Just when you think Haynes has done it all, the game gets upped once again.