Stability gives Allman Brothers members room to do own thing

When guitarist Warren Haynes first joined The Allman Brothers Band, he didn’t think it would last be

When guitarist Warren Haynes first joined The Allman Brothers Band, he didn’t think it would last beyond a year.

“I joined in 1989 for the reunion tour, and the band had not played together for nine years at that point,” Haynes said recently from his home in Westchester County, a few days after playing the second annual Peach Festival with the Allmans and his own group, Gov’t Mule, in Scranton, Pa.

“[The band’s members] had made a lot of statements to the effect of they would never play together again, so it was a big surprise to me in 1989 when I got the call to join the band when they wanted to reunite. We all thought it was just for the anniversary tour.”

Haynes has now been with the venerable Southern rock institution for close to 25 years, except for three years in the late 1990s when he left to focus on Gov’t Mule. Haynes was first brought on board by original guitarist Dickey Betts, after playing with Betts’ solo band for two years. In 2001, when Haynes rejoined the group, he replaced Betts.

The Allman Brothers Band, with Steve Winwood

When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Saratoga Performing Arts Center, 108 Avenue of the Pines, Saratoga Springs

How Much: $65, $55, $45, $35, $29.50 (lawn)

More Info: 800-745-3000,,

Since then, The Allman Brothers Band has experienced its longest-running period of stability, with the lineup of Haynes, guitarist Derek Trucks, bassist Oteil Burbridge and percussionist Marc Quiñones, alongside original members Gregg Allman on vocals and Hammond B-3 organ, drummer Butch Trucks (father of Derek) and percussionist Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson.

“The musical chemistry in this band worked very well from the first moment we all played together,” Haynes said. “From the beginning of this band, the personal chemistry was good as well, meaning everybody gets along well, which is a plus. In the case with any band, no matter how great the chemistry is, it’s only going to get better after 100, 200, 300 shows, and the longer you can keep something together, the more it will grow into something. … That’s one of the great things that comes from that: That way of playing music can’t be conjured up any other way.”

These days, The Allman Brothers Band — originally formed in Jacksonville, Fla., in 1969 by Gregg Allman and his guitarist brother, Duane, who died in a motorcycle accident in 1971 at age 24 — often ends up taking a backseat to its members’ other projects. Haynes is busy with both Gov’t Mule and his solo career — he released a solo album, “Man in Motion,” in 2011, and a new Gov’t Mule album, “Shout!” is due out later this year. Allman’s 2011 solo record “Low Country Blues” was his first in 13 years. And in 2010, Derek Trucks disbanded his solo group to form the bluesy Tedeschi Trucks Band with his wife, Susan Tedeschi; the band released “Made Up Mind” this year.

The Allmans’ upcoming performance Wednesday night at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center is part of a 14-date tour that began with the Peach Festival. Steve Winwood opens.

Touring isn’t the only thing that’s slowed down for the Allmans. The band hasn’t released a studio album since “Hittin’ the Note” in 2003, and it doesn’t look like that will change this year, although they have some new songs.

“We’ve started to work up a little bit of new material that we’ve been playing live, so we’re a little closer to making a record than we were a year ago, but there are no immediate plans to record,” Haynes said.

“I’m sure everybody would love for us to put a record out, and maybe we will,” he continued. “But Gregg’s record, the Tedeschi Trucks record, the Gov’t Mule record and my solo record all speak for themselves and stand on their own.”

Different approaches

“Shout!,” Gov’t Mule’s 10th studio album, is a different kind of record than fans are used to the band releasing. The two-disc set features one disc of new songs performed solely by Gov’t Mule — Haynes, drummer Matt Abts, keyboardist Danny Louis and bassist Jorgen Carlsson — and a disc featuring different versions of the same songs performed with guest vocalists. The all-star guest list includes Winwood, Dr. John, Dave Matthews, Grace Potter, Ben Harper, Elvis Costello, Frederick “Toots” Hibbert of Toots and the Maytals and Jim James of My Morning Jacket, among others.

“It’s all great singers who in some cases are close friends, but in all cases are people that I have some sort of working relationship with,” Haynes said. “One of the things I like about the array of artists we chose is that half of the singers are older and half of the singers are younger, so you get a glimpse of people we were influenced by and also people who we currently admire and listen to.”

When the Allmans finish touring, Haynes will hit the road again with Gov’t Mule. For him, the different approaches he uses with the Allmans, Gov’t Mule, his solo projects and his occasional touring with Phil Lesh and The Dead help to keep things interesting and fresh.

“I think everything that we all do influences everything that we all do,” Haynes said. “As an example, when I go work with the guys in the Grateful Dead or Phil Lesh, or Gov’t Mule, or the Warren Haynes Band, when you come back to any of those projects, including the Allman Brothers, you bring a fresh perspective with you. I think more than anything else, it keeps you from getting burned out on just doing one thing all the time.”

Categories: Entertainment

Leave a Reply