There’s been an overwhelming display of community in the live music scene this year. Trey playing with the Dead is obviously the biggest story, melting the Phish and Dead worlds together forever and always, but everywhere you turn this scene has been boosting itself. Al Schnier played Jerry’s guitar, Santana is announced to play with Phil & Friends at Lockn’, Roger Waters just played a full set with My Morning Jacket, etc. Everywhere you turn, live music is cross-pollinating through generations and genres, and it’s a beautiful thing.
Amongst these headlines is Warren Haynes and his partnership with Railroad Earth. Ashes & Dust is the name of the new album from these two parties, where Warren employs Railroad for their Appalachian style for an album that leans further towards “folk” than most anything else in the singer/guitarist’s career.
The day before Ashes & Dust came out, Haynes and Railroad Earth congregated at Town Hall, a venue in the heart of Manhattan, to celebrate. The intimate theatre doesn’t typically see a crowd this raucous, as the beer lines would indicate, but it does boast some of the best acoustics in the city. For this reason it is the premier and ideal venue for acoustic performances, and although Warren and RRE were plugged in, the vintage feel of their string-based sound translated extremely well in that room.
Over the course of a couple hours, the super-group delivered 16 songs, mostly stemming from the new LP. “Is It Me Or You” kicked things off, and the group spent no time flaunting the chemistry they built up in the studio together. The most obvious of which seems to be between Warren and multi-instrumentalist Tim Carbone, who spent the evening shredding the fiddle. “Wanderlust,” “Glory Road,” “Blue Maiden’s Tale,” and “Coal Tattoo” were definite highlights amongst the “first” set. Quotations are used around “first” because the set break was all of 30 seconds long, pretty much just enough to dupe some people into a smoke break.
The group swiftly returned to play “Soulshine,” which was stunning with the instrumentation on hand. John Skehan’s mandolin playing really helped to highlight that one. “Patchwork Quilt,” Neil Young’s “Comes A Time,” and “John The Revelator” closed out the set before a “Two of a Kind” encore took place. Todd Scheaffer was on deck to help close out the show, even switching off on verses on the Neil Young cover.
All in all, Warren Haynes and Railroad Earth is another gem in the forever-awesome live music scene. The jam community has transcended any imaginary boundaries created by fans to prove itself as one of the most interesting facets in music, and it seems like with Dead50, this year has been particularly eventful. Everyone has had to rise to the occasion, Haynes and RRE included, and us, the fans, have been lucky enough to reap all the benefits.