By Brian Ives
Over the weekend, Warren Haynes performed at the Peach Festival, on a lineup that featured several of his fellow former Allman Brothers Band members: Gregg Allman, Jaimoe, Butch Trucks and Oteil Burbridge all played with their current projects. (Percussionist Marc Quinones is part of Allman’s solo band; the only missing member of the final lineup was guitarist Derek Trucks.)
Haynes and Jaimoe joined Allman onstage during his set, delighting Allman Brothers fans. Meanwhile, Jaimoe, Burbridge and Quinones joined Butch Trucks, so it seems that the relationships between the ex-Brothers are still pretty solid. We spoke to Haynes about saying goodbye to the Allmans and the about band’s final year. Of course, there was also the business of his excellent new solo album, Ashes and Dust, which sees him teaming up with the band Railroad Earth.
This album is a definite departure from Gov’t Mule and the Allman Brothers Band.
Well, I’ve been thinking about this sort of record for probably six or seven years. At one point I was going to do a record with Levon Helm and Leon Russell and T-Bone Wolk. And T-Bone passed away, and then Levon passed away, and the whole project kind of just faded away. Some of these songs would’ve probably been on that record, and of course, I’ve been writing a lot since then as well.
I’ve accumulated dozens and dozens of songs through the years that kind of all have a similar folky sort of direction; they’re coming from more of a singer-songwriter type place. And I’ve been looking for the right way to capture that in the studio, and when I started working with the guys in Railroad Earth it made sense. There’s a lot of wonderful playing, but it’s very much a “song” record. You know, Gov’t Mule could make this kind of record, but I wouldn’t feel good about asking that band to do something quite so traditional. Not that this is necessarily a “traditional” record, but it has traditional aspects about it. It was important to me to kind of find the right voice and build a home for these songs that didn’t have a home prior. And once we go into the studio, I realized that that was the right decision; things were just happening organically and falling into place.
But would you ever play any of these songs live with the Mule?
I can see playing some of these songs with Gov’t Mule and possibly even some songs from Man in Motion, my last solo record. For the most part, I tend to try and keep them a little separate, but a little overlap here and there is a good thing I think, especially just to shake things up and do something different, you know.
I think Steve Earle once said that every album he does is a reaction to the prior one; is that how you feel about this album?
Well, I guess in the back of my mind I have this list of things that I really want to do and I keep checking them off. Before I made Man in Motion, I wanted to make a record that combined soul music with blues, and now I’ve done that. And now, for this record I wanted to make a record that captures songs that I wrote on acoustic guitar. There’s so many of these type of songs, I feel like there will be at least one follow-up to this record, but there’s still other things I would like to do. I wanna make a traditional blues record; I wanna make a jazz-influenced instrumental record. But this direction is something I can see carrying into the future.