Eric Church has covered “The Weight,” the 1968 traveler’s lament by The Band, multiple times in his career — including with Ryan Bingham during his two-night stripped-down Nashville shows in July — but his latest rendition brought an extra dose of rock & roll star power.
At the inaugural American Roots Festival in Raleigh, North Carolina, on October 18th, Church enlisted jam-rock hero Warren Haynes for a shut-the-front-door cover of the immortal anthem.
Church and Haynes — famous for his time in the Allman Brothers Band, as the leader of Gov’t Mule, and as a touring guitarist with members of the Grateful Dead — share some history as fellow North Carolina natives, and a few days earlier, both were inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame. So when Haynes stepped into the spotlight onstage in Raleigh, Church had a satisfied look in his eyes, grasping the singer-guitarist’s hand and looking even more amped up than the crowd sounded.
That soon changed, though, as Haynes unleashed a steady stream of tasty, fingerpicked leads, blistering slide-guitar solos and bluesy vocals. Joanna Cotten — an invaluable asset to Church’s live shows — added her distinct voice to the mix as each singer traded verses and grins. In fact, Church’s smile never left his face, even as he put a ton of extra English on the song’s creepy fourth verse, and especially when Haynes closed out the song with an earthy delivery that was just right for the tune’s well-worn feel.
Church will share the stage with another musical legend November 4th, when he and Hank Williams Jr. kick off the 49th CMA Awards with Williams’ new single “Are You Ready for the Country.” Haynes, meanwhile, released the more Americana-leaning solo effort Ashes & Dust this past summer. He’ll perform a string of dates in Florida this weekend.