Just before kicking off the Allman Brothers’ annual New York run, Warren Haynes dropped by the Rolling Stone offices to warm up with a couple tunes. The virtuoso guitarist delivered solo acoustic versions of the Allman’s track “Old Friend” (watch it above) as well as “Railroad Boy,” a haunting, traditional blues song that Haynes covers on the latest Gov’t Mule’s new record, By a Thread.
For years, the Allman Brothers rocked a multiple-day residency at New York’s Beacon Theatre, but with Cirque du Soleil calling the Beacon home with a new show in April, the Allmans were forced to move further uptown to the United Palace Theatre. “I’m a little disappointed that we’re not at the Beacon, just because that’s our home turf,” says Haynes. “Not to say that these shows aren’t going to be great — we’re going to have a wonderful time. It’s a beautiful theater. Change can be good, too, so we’re excited about it.”
For last year’s residency — which celebrated the band’s 40th anniversary — the Allmans were joined onstage each night with surprise guests like Eric Clapton and members of Phish. And while the 2010 residency won’t be as star-studded as last year’s, Haynes says fans can expect plenty of guests. “I’m sure we’ll have some friends stop by to do a lot of collaborative jamming,” he says.
Also expect the Allmans to bring plenty of off-the-cuff, improvisational heat — particularly when it comes to the set lists, which will change each night. “Normally, at somewhere like the Beacon or the United Palace, where we’re in once place for a long time, we just want to make sure that every show is different and well-balanced, covering each era of the band,” says Haynes. “We’ll do some new stuff, some old stuff. Sometimes if the energy of the show is not flowing, we’ll kind of abort the setlist in the middle and just start calling audibles. Sometimes that works out to be better. But usually we get lucky and are able to put a set together that’s going to connect with the crowd.
After the Allmans’ run, Haynes will return to the road with Gov’t Mule, including dates opening up for the Dave Matthews Band in July. Haynes also tells Rolling Stone that he’ll be gearing up to release a solo record next year, which he recorded while simultaneously cutting the latest Mule record. “That was fun to do because we recorded in the same studio, with same and producer and engineer but they are completely different records,” says Haynes. “They have so little in common, in a good way, and I’m really excited about both of them. Sometimes you gotta find a window of time and do your best creating there, but a lot of the material for the solo record I’ve been compiling for some time now.”