By: Rod Lockwood
30 June 2005
The Toledo Blade
No offense to James Brown, none at all, but Warren Haynes has to be the hardest-working man in show business.
When he comes to Toledo’s Stranahan Theater Wednesday holding down an essential role in the venerable Allman Brothers Band’s deluxe twin-guitar jam-o-rama, Haynes will have literally just jumped off the tour bus of his own band, Gov’t Mule.
Tuesday night the man Rolling Stone selected as 23rd best guitarist ever will play a set with the Mule in Milwaukee, wait for the Allman Brothers gear to be set up, then take the stage with them. Then it’s two months with the southern rock archetypes before going back to the Mule for more touring.
Don’t expect to hear him complain. “It’s exhausting in the way playing a sport is exhausting, but at the end of the night you feel exhilarated, which is great,” he said in a phone interview. “Playing music is the best job you can have, and it’s not hard work like digging a ditch.”
Last year Haynes played with The Dead, the reformed post-Jerry Garcia version of the Grateful Dead. And he played with the Phil Lesh Trio, an on-again/off-again gig with the Grateful Dead’s bass player.Then there’s his work with Gov’t Mule and his live solo acoustic disc that came out last year …
Haynes started playing guitar at age 14, honing an approach that is equal parts greasy slide guitar virtuosity and pure fiery power. He was weaned on the blues and bands like Cream and the early version of the Allman Brothers, not knowing he would one day replace Duane Allman, who died in a motorcycle accident in 1971.
He met Gregg Allman and former Allmans’ guitar player Dickey Betts in the early ’80s while he was serving as a sideman for country singer David Allen Coe, and they were working on their solo albums.
He joined the Allmans in 1989 and is credited with infusing energy into a band that had gotten stale, forging a tight musical relationship with Betts.
After growing up listening to Duane Allman — and the likes of guitarists Eric Clapton and blues great B.B. King —Haynes said he was ready to join the band.
“Most of the stuff I learned from those guys I learned before I ever met them,” he said. “But when you get in the inside of something like that you get a whole new insight into how it all connects, and how the dots connect, and how the chemistry of the people comes together.”
Haynes split the group in 1997 to pursue solo opportunities and work with Gov’t Mule. He came back to the band in 2001, the same year Betts either left the band or was sacked, depending on who you believe.
Now his guitar cohort is Derek Trucks, the nephew of drummer Butch Trucks, who along with Gregg Allman and percussionist Jaimoe are the members left from the original lineup. Both guys are slide players, but they’ve found room in the arrangements to fly off on the kind of extended solos that make the Allmans one of the prototypical jam bands.
“Improvisation exists at all levels, whether you’re just playing a short song or a really long song with intricate solos,” Haynes said.
The best part is meandering off musically into uncharted territory before finding your way back to the original groove as a band.
Numerous examples of it exist on the band’s latest double-disc live release “One Way Out,” featuring the kind of long southern-fried jams the group’s loyal audience expects every night.
“We get lost on a nightly basis and that’s what’s great: finding your way back,” he said. “We’re on a journey and getting back is part of the excitement.”
Taking the trip with Haynes, Allman, Jaimoe, and Trucks are Oteil Burbridge on bass and Marc Quinones on congas and percussion.