Sifting Through The Ashes
With a new Warren Haynes & Railroad Earth album Ashes & Dust out, JLTT talks to the Govt Mule mainman about the new collection:
JLTT : I’ve listened to the stream at this point, Warren but without any notes or info, just the titles – so this is me asking about what I am hearing
WH : That’s cool, Pete
Safe to say, it’s you stepping outside Govt Mule, Allmans et al and being your other self …
Yeah, it’s really different from anything I’ve done in the past,but it also represents a side of me that’s been there my entire life
There’s a lot of sound and vocal references here that ring bells with me..being song-oriented..for example the lead track Is It Me Or You has this Celtic fiddle and banjo, quite a sombre sound – and great slide – and evokes Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell
Y’know where I grew up, in North Carolina, with the mountains, Celtic music and Appalachian music, bluegrass, folk – it’s all very prevalent..it’s everywhere…so I am hearing all that from the time I was a wee child..thanks on the slide, it’s a nice juxtaposition with the fiddle and banjo and mandolin, I think
You’re dead right there..this record seems to tread its way through folk, blues, Celtic, country, psych..when you’ve grown up listening to this stuff and it’s part of your DNA it must all come out at some point in you’re playing WHEN you’re in the right setting
Exactly, for me it’s very comfortable …in the States I do these solo acoustic sets and the mix is very similar, though it’s me by myself it’s these kind of songs that I do and singing with the same sort of approach..this is the side of me that when I am sitting and writing…some are new and some are quite old but I have been accumulating this kind of material my whole life
It does sound almost like a diary, Warren. Like you have handed me a bunch of photographs to look through, personal ones
(Laughs) Funny you should say that – the artwork kinda reflects that, which you haven’t seen. The album title is taken from the song Spots of Time
Yes, a psych lyric and chiming with my good friends The Yardbirds’ Happenings Ten Years Time Ago…
Well I get that, sure
Coal Tattoo has some fine slide..a touch of Townes Van Zandt in feel
Well That’s one of three songs on the record written by different friends of mine that are all important, locally.That one is from Billy Ed Wheeler, now 82 years old..the most famous of all of us, he wrote Jackson for Johnny Cash and he wrote High Flying Bird ( The Airplane and Wizards from Kansas – PS) and Coal Tattoo was originally recorded by The Kingston Trio in the early 60s but I feel it’s as valid today as it was then as it’s about a coalminer’s life and the controversy, y’know. I kinda decided to revisit the song the way we used to play it, way back
James McMurty is doing that now, tales that stay relevant
Yes! Time capsules and there’s no reason to stamp a date on them
I had to thank Steve Stills for writing For What It’s Worth, which I play all the time. Switch on the TV news today, there it is!
I always love the story songs ..it was going way before Dylan but he moved it up many notches, changed everything..
Have you seen my notes, Warren? Did you break into my house? I am about to ask why we so love story songs, like Hurricane! Your number Company Man for example…
(Laughs) That’s written about my father. A great singer and still sings BUT it wasn’t a career for him, he was too busy raising children and supporting the family
He’d heard Pete Seeger for sure!
Yeah and I was lucky enough to play with Pete ..with Steve Earle and Bruce Springsteen, Ritchie Havens, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Kris Kristofferson..for his 90th birthday.. a huge highlight for me
You’re well aware that in performing you’re carrying the torch these guys lit..I once opened at a festival for Lonnie Donegan and over a cup of tea I asked whether he realised how influential he was, playing Leadbelly and Muddy Waters back then. He just laughed and said he liked it, he wanted to play it….
And sometimes it’s a simple as that..the impact is massive nonetheless
Blue Maiden’s Tale..It’s got a clean melody, pattering tempo, lighter vocal..this folk lilt, no band to worry about..it’s in Celtic and folk BUT Skip James had it it, too
Absolutely! A more melodic form of blues music..in North Carolina, a lot of the blues was indeed more melodic…mellower-sounding
New Year’s Eve is good. A regal slide sound. Almost Lowell George..it sounds an optimistic composition?
At the end of the year we all start to try to figure out how we’re going to make things better, where we can…I do love Lowell’s slide playing..melody instead of blues licks
He used to coast the notes downwards..sounded like talking not shouting
And that’s in David Lindley and Ry Cooder…..
I was going to mention David as well! Glory Road..I’ve written down ‘Jackson and Lindley style, unhurried ‘…
When you look at people who have a minimalistic approach to their style, whether it’s B B King or David Gilmour..they’re using melodies and phrases that stick in your head because they’re not just w***ing
And let’s nod to Mike Campbell and Billy Gibbons
Yes! I love both of those guys
Gold Dust Woman is the Fleetwood Mac cut, with a Celtic twist…do you know Stevie or Lindsey?
Never met them…that song came about as a bit of a surprise, because Grace Potter and I had performed it a few times on stage and when I was making this record I had the idea that with Celtic style and stripped down instrumentation it might sound really good…
I saw Grace at The Forum..cool slide player!
Yep and B3 organ…Grace and I have been friends for quite a while now
Spots of Time …it’s eerie, it’s psychedelic, the solo is wow and that reminded me of Gabor Szabo, the Hungarian jazz guy
Who I am familiar with, but I wouldn’t have made that connection..but y’know thinking about it, I’m playing this d’Angelico hollow body guitar with wound strings, so I can’t play blues as such..and not bending the strings, it makes me play differently, Pete
Isn’t this a Phil Lesh co-write?
Yes, we wrote this song several years back and I started playing it with the Allman Brothers last few years and I was thinking we’d probably record it .if we made a final record which we never did..so I decided to do it here.
It’s almost like a space blues..I’m a big Sun Ra fan..BUT Hallelujah Boulevard has this nightmare psych opening to it
With the acoustic instruments that was a prelude improvised on the spot and I think what happened was just before we did the track, intentionally recorded at midnight we were thinking of Astral Weeks..and that’s what happened, when we hit ‘record’…
The album starts off Celtic and here we are on Blue Jay Way!
Yes it goes through a lot of places
This is your Nebraska
(Ponders) In some ways, I guess it may be. Entirely different from anything else I’ve done…
Warren Haynes’ new album featuring Railroad Earth ‘Ashes & Dust’ is out now on Provogue Records/Mascot Label Group.
In addition, Warren Haynes will be performing a very special ‘Ashes & Dust’ show featuring Nashville based Americana band ChessBoxer and rock and jazz fusion drummer Jeff Sipe (The Aquarium Rescue Unit) on Saturday 21st November 2015 at St John’s Smith Square, London United Kingdom. Tickets are priced at £30, £35, & £40. For tickets and more information about the venue visit: http://thegigcartel.com/Artists-profiles/Warren-Haynes.htm or call the box office on: 0844 478 0898
Venue Address: St John’s Smith Square, Smith Square, London SW1P 3HA
(Photo in article by Danny Clinch.Thanks to Warren, Lee and Steve)