Written by Jim Bille

From The Nighthawks to The Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers as well as Phil Lesh and Friends and many more acts in between, Warren Haynes has played with or been involved with some of the best American musical artists of the last 30 or 40 years.

Haynes is probably best known for his stint with the Allman Brothers but his own acts that include Gov’t Mule and now the Ashes and Dust Band stand up to any of his prior musical contributions or achievements. That being said, Haynes and his newest ensemble, The Ashes and Dust Band, made it to The House of Blues last Saturday night to perform for an enthusiastic crowd of fans.

The Ashes and Dust Band consists of Chessboxer, an Americana music trio based out of Nashville which features violinist Ross Holmes, banjoist Matt Menefee and bass player Royal Masat. Royal’s brother Sterling Masat was also featured on guitar and mandolin.  Along on drums Haynes has added Jeff Sipe, who has played with Phil Lesh and Friends as well as Leftover Salmon.

The show featured much of the new CD release from the band but Haynes was not about to leave Allman Brothers fans out as he also performed a few ABB numbers along with Grateful Dead,  Bob Dylan and Neil Young covers.

WH-rev2As mentioned, the show featured tunes from Haynes’ latest release Ashes and Dust. The first number of the show was “Is It Me or Is It You” from the new CD, but instead of being performed semi-acoustically based as on the album, Haynes chose to go electric which added an extra punch.

“Tough Mama”, an obscure Bob Dylan number was up next with Haynes guiding the band through a rocking version from Dylan’s 1974 release Planet Waves.

Hayne’s selection of musicians for this tour was fantastic as each band member was featured on various tunes soloing, going head to head with Haynes pairing flawlessly with his musicianship and delivery.

Ross Holmes playing was incredible as he was in the solo spotlight heavily throughout the evening displaying his fiddling prowess. Not to say Menefee and the Masat brothers’ didn’t hold their own when they too were called upon. Menefee played banjo crazy on many numbers, either on the traditional instrument or on some exotic electric hybrid banjo that he used to swap out Allman Brothers type duets with Haynes on many numbers.

One of the Allman Brothers Band classics that Haynes chose to perform was “Blue Sky”.  Haynes and company stretched the number out into a jam based free for all that featured each member of the band at one time or another taking a swipe at soloing with Haynes standing by to pull it all back together with his own inspired playing.

WH-rev3Another extended jam number from the Allman Brothers catalog was “Instrumental Illness” which again had every band member cohesively working as one musical unit in flabbergasting precision and melodic style.

Songs from the Ashes and Dust release were sprinkled intermittently throughout the show. “Glory Road”, “Spots of Time” and “Company Man” all got an extra electrical treatment adding an additional spark to the more familiar versions from the album.

Encore numbers included “Angel Band”, an a-capella song performed by the entire band which then segued into “Soul Shine”.  “Soul Shine” is a Haynes original penned song that he has featured with ABB and Gov’t Mule over the years and is a trademark number for him.

The final song “Jessica” was performed brilliantly as each band member continued the jam session one last time with an amazing version of this Allman Brothers classic.

Warren Haynes pretty much does it all when it comes to producing some of the best Blues-Rock to be heard. Whether it is in collaboration with some of best musicians in the business or solo endeavors, you owe it to yourself to take a live listen if he comes close to your town.