Warren Haynes: A Man in Motion (at the White House, Apollo Theater, Terrapin Crossroads, a Ramble and More)
Photo by Dean Budnick
Tonight marks the opening show of the Allman Brothers Band’s annual Beacon Theatre run. A few days ago, following ABB rehearsal, Warren Haynes took some time for a wide-ranging conversation that initially focused on the group’s Beacon plans but also touched on the range of activities that occupied his time in February, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award Ceremony with the Brothers, dates with Phil Lesh and Friends (including a webcast from Lesh’s Terrapin Crossroads), a performance at the White House, the Hubert Sumlin memorial at the Apollo Theatre, a gig subbing for Levon Helm at one of his famed Rambles and even some studio work with Gov’t Mule. In this feature Haynes discusses all of these happenings as well as the Live at The Moody Theatre DVD with the Warren Haynes Band, which is set for an April 24 release.
To read a preview of the Beacon Theater shows (with some hints from Haynes on what the band has in store), click here for the piece on Jambands.com.
You had quite an extraordinary few weeks in February. You performed for the President, actually you performed with the President and then a few days later you appeared at the Apollo Theater for the Hubert Sumlin memorial benefit. This meant that you played with both Keith Richards and Mick Jagger over the course of a few days. Let’s start with the Red, White, and Blues event at the White House. How did that came about and what that was like?
We got a call one day saying that this was supposed to happen and would we be available? Absolutely. Which wound up for me—I don’t know what you know about my schedule that week—but I went from the Grammy thing which became ten days in L.A.—to being in San Francisco for rehearsals and that webcast with Phil. Then we did the four days in Denver with three shows. It would have been easier for me if I had just gone to D.C. for the next three days but I had a commitment in L.A. on the 20th. So I went to D.C. on the 19th for the rehearsal for the White House, back to L.A. to the 20th, and back to D.C. on the 21st. But I would never have turned down such a wonderful opportunity. I was extremely honored to be part of it and I thought it turned out great. I had to miss one day of rehearsal but I thought the whole experience was amazing.
Did you know the President was going to sing “Sweet Home Chicago” or did that come up spontaneously?
That was totally spontaneous. That was Buddy Guy. As the President was about to leave, he said “We heard you sing Al Green. You gotta sing with us.” And the President was going, “No, no, no” and Buddy’s going, “Come on, come on, you can do it!” He was genuinely not prepared to do it. It wasn’t planned. And he genuinely was saying, “No!” and Buddy was like, “Come on!” Then finally Mick Jagger gave him his mic and there was nothing he could do, so he had to sing. But that was totally impromptu.
There’s a moment, before he does it where Michelle Obama rolls her eyes as if to say, “here we go again…”
That’s right. That was all real.
There’s also a video of you performing by yourself in the White House. How did that come about and where exactly are you?
In one of the other rooms earlier in the day. They asked me if I would do something by myself and I said sure. So I chose “River’s Gonna Rise” because it’s kind of a political statement. And the way it all comes across is that the President is introducing me.
Did you have any interaction with the President in that setting?
In this case, it was just the show itself and everybody had their picture taken with him and all that stuff. But I’ve been very fortunate to have been there four or five times.
And Mick Jagger, that was the first time you performed with him, correct?
That was a first. That was the first time for me playing with Mick Jagger and with Jeff Beck. Then two nights later at the Apollo for the Hubert Sumlin tribute, I played again with Eric Clapton and Billy Gibbons as well as with Keith Richards for the first time. So I played with Mick and Keith in a three day period, both of whom I had never played with before.
Do you have a Keith Richards story from that Hubert Sumlin night?
Eric Clapton was working up the Howlin’ Wolf version of “Goin’ Down Slow.” The Wolf version has a recitation in the beginning and in the middle that was done by Willie Dixon, who wrote “Goin’ Down Slow.” Eric didn’t want to do the recitation and he wanted someone else to do it. Originally he had asked Willie Weeks to do it and they were kind of just joking around but I could tell Willie didn’t want to do it. Now Keith Richards was sitting by the piano just watching the whole rehearsal, he wasn’t playing at that particular moment. And you could see it leading up to, “Why doesn’t Keith do the spoken recitation?” So I saw it coming and then Eric said, “Keith, you do it,” and Keith’s like, “I don’t know it.” And he said, “It’s right there on the teleprompter.” So Keith got up and did the recitation in rehearsal and then it carried over to the show, which was absolutely perfect. It was exactly what needed to happen.
In honor of Umphrey’s McGee’s return to Summer Camp this weekend, we present the group’s Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger performing this version of “The Pequod” from UM’s Anchor Drops.
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The Chapin Sisters share an tune from their new album A Date With the Everly Brothers.
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The Milk Carton Kids share the first song from their new album, The Ash & Clay.
Here is the new video from Serbian guitar ace Ana Popovic. “Object Of Obsession” appears on her latest album Can You Stand The Heat.
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