Warren Haynes: Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag
Given the breadth of his influences, the openness of his approach and the range of his musical contexts, it’s not surprising that some of the compositions that Haynes has written over the years didn’t feel suitable to any of his existing bands—until now.
Recorded on vintage equipment in a Texas studio with top-notch talent (including George Porter Jr., Ivan Neville, Ian McLagan, Raymond Weber and Ruthie Foster), the Warren Haynes Band’s Man In Motion harkens back to the soul music of Haynes’ youth. The album is exposing Haynes to some new listeners, who may have found his earlier efforts to be too loud, heavy or steeped in improv.
Still, he is quick to dismiss any notion that the album is an effort to reorient himself toward the mainstream. “I’ve been doing this too long to chase anything,” he says. “Whatever airplay I’m getting, I’m getting because people like what I’ve chosen to do and not because I’ve chosen to do something that’s similar to other things that are currently successful.
“Any time you second guess the market, it’s going to change before you know it, anyway. Soul music was my first love. Before I ever heard Cream or Jimi Hendrix, my heroes were James Brown, Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding. So it’s more of a full-circle thing for me, and there was no trying to determine whether it would be less appealing or more appealing than what I was doing. It was being able to express myself in a way that felt honest. ”
One can hear this in the editing (or lack thereof) on the tracks that Haynes and fellow producer Gordie Johnson selected for Man In Motion. “When we recorded the record, right up to the very end, we could have opted for shorter versions—less guitar solos, less jamming—but the final decision was going back to the way I felt and Gordie felt when we were kids listening to music,” offers Haynes. “You’d hear these records fade. And it seemed like just when the band started cooking, they faded out and you always wondered what happened that you didn’t get to hear. We wanted to give people the parts that they wouldn’t have gotten to hear.”
Gov’t Mule was on a predetermined hiatus for 2011—one that they discussed for a few years but postponed after bassist Jorgen Carlsson replaced Andy Hess in late 2008. In fact, Haynes cut Man in Motion immediately after By a Thread in the spring/summer of 2009 in the same Texas studio, but shelved because he felt it was important—for Mule’s longevity—to make sure that the new lineup with Carlsson gelled on the road. The Allman Brothers Band scaled back their tour itinerary, so that the members could focus on their other projects after Gregg Allman’s liver transplant limited his ability to work in 2010. 2011 would be the first time since 1994—the year that Gov’t Mule began—that Haynes didn’t log substantial time on the road with both groups.
After reviewing his tour itinerary, one might be tempted to strip him of the “Hardest Working Man” badge that the media continues to pin on him—if the very designation were not so misguided. Haynes observes, “I think way too much is made of that. Housewives work harder than me. I don’t consider what I do to be hard work. There are a lot of jobs out there where I wouldn’t last two weeks. That’s doesn’t mean I don’t give 100 percent to what I do given the conditions of my employment. There are no guarantees in any situation, but in the music business especially, you can give 110 percent and still not be successful. I think people who work hard are just reducing the odds that are against them.”
This work ethic has seen him bound from one musical setting to another, including a marathon day on June 29, 2002 at Deer Creek Amphitheater in Indiana when he took the stage for nearly six hours as a member of Gov’t Mule, the Allmans and Phil Lesh & Friends. More recently, on May 16, 2009, he performed with both the Allman Brothers and The Dead, who shared a bill at The Gorge in Washington state.
Throughout the years, a few critics have wondered whether his commitments to multiple groups might take a creative toll on Haynes. But he has consistently offered a contrary view and continues to do so, explaining, “I think from a learning standpoint, the inspiration factor outweighs the draining factor.”
Matt Abts echoes this sentiment. “Warren has thrived from his involvement with the Allman Brothers, the Grateful Dead and the Mule,” the drummer relays. “He understands them as different musical entities and they all require a different kind of nurturing, a different kind of stroke. I’ve learned from him that it’s a good way to not to be stuck in the same musical pool. You get other things thrown at you, and these elements can later come in to whatever you’re doing at any given time. So it’s a healthy thing for sure.”
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.
Dame shares a song from her new EP Preventions of Heartbreak.
Golden Bloom stopped by Relix to perform a tune from their latest EP No Day Like Today.
The Chapin Sisters share an tune from their new album A Date With the Everly Brothers.
Minneapolis-based Night Moves share a song from their record, Colored Emotions, live at Relix.
Cloud Cult share a song from their latest album live at Relix.
The Giving Tree Band enjoy a spring day on the Relix rooftop, while performing a classic Grateful Dead tune.
Canadian singer-songwriter Hayden performs a duet with his sister-in-law Lou Canon. The song appears on Us Alone his first record on Broken Social Scene’s Arts & Crafts Productions.
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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