Warren Haynes’ Annual Christmas Jam Ignites Harrah’s Cherokee

Photo Credit: David Simchock

Last night, Warren Haynes’ annual Christmas Jam returned to Harrah’s Cherokee Center in the bandleader’s hometown of Asheville, N.C. The charitable evening, which benefited  Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity and BeLoved Asheville, featured a steady stream of music industry heavy hitters, beginning with husband and wife duo Scott Metzger and Katie Jacoby, who opened up the night. Then, music continued with sets led by Dinosaur Jr., Brothers Osborne, Gov’t Mule, Tyler Childers and Phil Lesh & Friends. 

The event got underway after an intimate display of musicianship carried out by Joe Russo’s Almost Dead guitarist, Metzger, and violinist, Jacoby, who lent their acoustic skills to Black Sabbath’s “The Wizard.” In continuation of the evening, Dinosaur Jr. took the fabled stage next and dug into their set which included takes on “The Lung” and the recently cut “Garden.” Next, the Massachusetts band played “Been There All the Time,” “ Start Choppin’,” “Feel The Pain,” and “Gargoyle.” 

Brothers Osborne’s frame came after Dinosaur Jr. The Old Line State siblings kicked things off with “Skeletons,” followed by “Headstones” and “Shoot Me Straight.” Then, the duo delivered a take on “I’m Not For Everyone” off their 2020 EMI release. The set kept rolling with “Weed Whiskey Willie,” which came before “Dead Man’s Curve” and “Stay A Little Longer” from 2016’s Pawn Shop album. For the last number for their set, the Brothers Osborne landed on “It Ain’t My Fault.” 

The event’s host took the stage next with his Gov’t Mule collaborators for their highly anticipated Christmas Jam performance, which kicked off with “Painted Silver” followed by “Temporary Saint.” Then the band’s first guest, Rob Barraco, stepped on stage to assist the musicians on “Banks of the Deep End.” Barraco stuck around for the following number, which saw additional accompaniment by Audley Freed, who helped out on a cover of The Black Crowes’ “Sometimes Salvation.” Next, the duo stuck to the stage for the Heavy Load Blues’ track, “Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City.” 

Freed left before the start of the following number, leaving room for Gov’t Mule to welcome Mike Barnes, George Porter Jr., and Jeff Stipe, who, along with Barraco, dug into a cover of Little Feat’s “Sailing Shoes.” Next, the Meter’s original “Hey Pocky A-Way,” came before a take on “Schoolgirl.” Then, the Haynes-led ensemble ripped into The Allman Brothers Band’s “Blue Sky” to cap off their frame of music. 

Tyler Childers’ set followed Gov’t Mule and began with the original “Honky Tonk Flame” before the artist ran through a take on Kenny Rogers & The First Edition’s “Tulsa Turnaround.” Then, Childers’ set resumed with a selection of self-penned songs, including “Universal Sound,” “Way of the Triune God,” “Heart You Been Tendin’,” and “Rustin’ in the Rain.” The last song of his set, “Trudy,” featured the event host, Haynes, who stepped out to assist on the Charlie Daniels Band cover.

For the display of the evening, Grateful Dead founding bassist Phil Lesh appeared alongside Haynes, Barraco, John Scofield and John Molo for a set steeped in classic numbers plucked from the great American songbook. The frame began with the Dead original “Mason’s Children,” followed by fan favorites “Shakedown Street” and “Viola Lee Blues.” Next, the ensemble took on The Beatles’ “I am The Walrus” before working in a take on Bonnie Dobson’s “Morning Dew.” Miles Davis’ “So What” came before Haynes’ “Patchwork Quilt,” written in 1995 upon hearing about the passing of Jerry Garcia. To follow, the band pulled out a spotless “Doing That Rag” before slowing things down with “Comes A Time.”

The night’s final frame continued with a classic Grateful Dead paring of “Lady with a Fan” into “Terrapin Station.” Then, for the last song of the 2023 Christmas Jam, the group of highly regarded artists landed on the Lesh-penned “Box of Rain” from the seminal album American Beauty to cap the charitable evening in Asheville, N.C. 

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