The line snaked down a steamy 14th Street a full hour before, but Warren Haynes made the wait worthwhile, playing a full solo set then patiently signing CDs. Haynes’ reputation stems largely as an incredible guitarist, but I was in time for much of soundcheck, and, as always, felt the thrill of his fabulous voice wash over me like a dive into cool water. Big time radio DJ Ken Dashow confided that he believes Haynes has one of the great rock and roll voices, yet his vocal talent often gets lost in the maelstrom of Gov’t Mule, the Allman Brothers, the Warren Haynes Band and his other large scale projects. That said, it sure didn’t get lost at the Guitar Center.
Though backed by a wall of guitars, Haynes played his own Gibson ES335 Custom throughout, opening with “Patchwork Quilt,” his homage to Jerry Garcia, before beginning the good-natured repartee with the audience which continued between songs. “Any requests that we may or may not do?” he asked before launching into “Sick of My Shadow,” a personal favorite.
Haynes’ Mt. Jam Festival, a joint venture with Woodstock, NY’s WDST would begin in two days, so naturally there were a few plugs, including references to the Saturday tribute to the late Levon Helm, which will include members of Helm’s band, Gov’t Mule and special guests. Haynes appeared to be very sincere when he said it would be “special,” as it undoubtedly will be, right there in Helm’s neighborhood.
Although he ended the performance with an eight-bar blues, the late-set “One” really tugged at the heart strings. That ethereal tone when he sang the line “Love is the temple” made me want to go to church and give thanks.
– Suzanne Cadgene