Warren Haynes‘ 29th annual Christmas Jam featured a star-studded lineup that blew the roof off Asheville, North Carolina’s U.S. Cellular Center on Saturday, December 9, 2017, including sets from Haynes’ own Gov’t Mule (with a special appearance by Ann Wilson), Trey Anastasio & Classic TAB (his original touring solo lineup ft. Tony Markellis, Ray Paczkowski and Russ Lawton), The Avett BrothersBlackberry SmokeMargo Price, and a “new” band dubbed Les Bros. featuring past Allman Brothers and Les Brers members Marc QuinonesLamar Williams Jr., Bruce Katz, in addition to featured guest spots from fan-favorite players including Marcus KingBrandon “Taz” NiederauerHolly Bowling, and many more.

Only a few days later, you can now enjoy the complete audio of the 7+ hour celebration, thanks to taper D. Fries. Read the the full festival review here, or continue on for set-by-set highlights from contributing writer Michelle Wilson.

Trey Anastasio Band Busts Out “Aqui Como Alla” After 16 Years At Warren Haynes’ Christmas Jam

Opening the extensive evening of song at 6:30 pm sharp with her unique piano stylings was Christmas Jam alum Holly Bowling who also provided continuous entertainment between some of the performers. Bowling warmed up the eager crowd with piano versions of The Grateful Dead’s “St. Stephen” and “Cassidy” as well as Duane Allman’s stirring composition, “Little Martha”—the only Allman Brothers Band tune written by Allman alone.

Following Bowling, a jovial Haynes took the stage with an acoustic guitar along with Hawaii native and ukulele phenom, Jake Shimabukuro. Haynes traditionally sits in with some of his guests creating one-of-a-kind jams to the delight of the audience. Dueting on the Allman Brothers Band’s “Melissa” and finishing to rousing cheers, Haynes left the stage and Shimabukuro finished the 15-minute acoustic set with two songs including George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”

Country sensation Margo Price and her band brought a fresh sound to the Jam stage next, belting out seven high-energy numbers from both her debut and sophomore albums. Radiant in a form-fitting red holiday dress with flowing sleeves, Price and her acoustic guitar wowed with “Tennessee Song,” “All-American Made” (the title track from her latest release and a tribute to the late Tom Petty), and  “Learning to Lose,” a duet Price recorded with Willie Nelson for her new record. Returning to the small stage, Bowling and Shimabukuro kept concert-goers enraptured with “Bird Song” and “The Other One” from The Grateful Dead, and then rounded it out with a stellar interpretation of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

Atlanta, Georgia’s southern rock darlings, Blackberry Smoke, kicked off their set in high gear and never stopped. Frontman Charlie Starr sounded better than ever as the band ripped into catalog favorites such as “Fire In The Hole, “Ain’t Got The Blues” and “Ain’t Much Left of Me” with an “Amazing Grace” teaser. Sitting in with the band for an emotional “Free On The Wing” was fellow Atlanta native and slide guitar wizard, Benji Shanks. “That’s for Brother Gregg Allman,” Starr announced, in heartfelt dedication to the late Allman.

Adding some Americana into the mix, The Avett Brothers brought their particular brand of folk/bluegrass/country rock to the main stage. With their incredible harmonies, crazy-high falsettos and major fun factor, the six-song set included “Blue Ridge Mountain Blues,” “Laundry Room” (with a crowd clap-along), “Paranoia In B-Flat Major” and “Cigarettes, Whiskey and Wild, Wild Women,” written by Tim Spencer and famously covered by Buck Owens. Finishing on the main platform and moving to the small stage, Haynes sat in with The Avett Brothers to perform Merle Haggard’s “If We Make It Through December” and Bob Dylan’s “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere.”

The Avett Brothers were replaced by the surprise early appearance of Ann Wilson of Heart, as Haynes and Wilson paid homage to the late Tom Petty with “Southern Accents,” the title cut from his 1985 release and sixth album. Wilson implied that it also may have been dedicated to Haynes’ own mother, who was in the audience for her son’s fabulous event. As if this dedication wasn’t heart-wrenching enough, Haynes and Wilson brought out Shimabukuro and followed it up with the Audioslave original, “I Am The Highway,” in tribute to the late Chris Cornell.

Trey Anastasio and Classic TAB took the spotlight next and offered a lively, rejuvenating set including “Gotta Jibboo,” “Burn That Bridge,” “Everything’s Right,” “Aqui Como Alla,” “Sand,” “Dark and Down,” “Set Your Soul Free” and “First Tube.” Anastasio then joined Haynes on the small stage and the two absolutely slayed Trey original “Miss You” and The Allman Brothers Band’s “Midnight Rider”. After, Anastasio exited and Bowling rejoined Haynes for a poignant rendition of Bonnie Dobson’s “Morning Dew,” a song covered by many including The Grateful Dead and 31st of February, an early precursor to the Allman Brothers Band.

Jack [Pearson] and Jaimoe were supposed to be here, but they’re not, so we’re sending this out to them and everybody else,” quipped Haynes with a devilish grin. With numerous adjustments, Les Bros. ( a revamped Les Brers, the creation of the late Allman Brothers Band original drummer, Butch Trucks) ended up featuring Haynes, Gov’t Mule bassist Jorgen Carlsson, former Allman Brothers Band drummer Marc Quiñones, and former Marshall Tucker Band drummer Paul Riddle, keyboard player Bruce Katz, and singer Lamar Williams Jr.

Appropriately, the supergroup opened with “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More” and then a rotating lineup of guests appeared for each subsequent song including long-time Haynes’ friend and founder of Asheville Guitar, Mike Barnes, on an incendiary “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” and “Southbound,” which also featured 14-year-old guitar prodigy, Brandon “Taz” Niederauer. Charlie Starr came out and played second guitar on “Blue Sky” followed by an off -the-chain “Dreams” as special guest Marcus King and Haynes traded killer licks while Williams nailed the vocals. The guitar duo outdid themselves on the set closer, “Whipping Post,” as Haynes sang out the emotion-charged lyrics, “Like a good friend told me, there ain’t no such thing as dyin’.”

Returning to the small stage as the main one was prepped for Gov’t Mule with Ann Wilson, King performed an acoustic set with a horn section and featuring guest appearances by Niederauer and Starr, the latter crooning out the blues standard, “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out.” It was refreshing to hear the young, up-and-coming stars mingling their talents with the established artists. Gov’t Mule, including Haynes, bassist Carlsson, drummer Matt Abts and multi-instrumentalist Danny Louis took the stage at the wee hour of 1:40am, and opened with “Traveling Tune” and “Thorns of Life,” two tracks off their new 2017 release, Revolution Come…Revolution Go. Then all hell broke loose with the return of the mighty Ann Wilson.

Church indeed was in session and Wilson was preachin’ the gospel. Her vocals invigorated the dancing crowd and ripped into every last inch of the venue as epic Led Zeppelin covers bounced off the walls including “No Quarter,” “Black Dog,” the Willie Dixon-penned “You Shook Me” and “Immigrant Song.” Thrown into the mix were “Cry Baby,” famously recorded by Janis Joplin and written by Bert Berns and Jerry Ragavoy, and Heart’s iconic “Magic Man,” which even brought people out from backstage. Closing it all out at 3:00am with “Where’s My Mule,” Haynes thanked everyone for coming out and the house lights came on, capping off another Christmas Jam for the books.

Listen to the complete audio of the 7+ hour celebration below, thanks to taper D. Fries, followed by the complete setlist via JamBuzz.

Holly Bowling

01 /St. Stephen
02 Free
03 Proxima B
04 Cassidy
05 Little Martha

Holly Bowling – piano


Warren Haynes and Jake Shimabukuro

06 Melissa


Jake Shimabukuro

07 While My Guitar Gently Weeps
08 Dragon

Jake Shimabukuro – ukulele


Margo Price

09 Nowhere Fast
10 Tennessee Song
11 Wild Woman
12 Hurtin’ (On The Bottle)
13 Learning To Lose
14 All American Made
15 Paper Cowboy

Margo Price – guitar
Jamie Davis- lead guitar
Kevin Black- bass
Luke Schneider- pedal steel and dobro
Dillon Napier- drums
Jeremy Ivey- harmonica and guitar
Micah Hulscher- Keys


Holly Bowling and Jake Shimabukuro

16 Bird Song (6/8)
17 Hallelujah

Holly Bowling – piano
Jake Shimabukuro – ukulele


Blackberry Smoke

18 Fire In The Hole
19 Let It Burn
20 Waiting For The Thunder
21 Free On The Wing (w/ Third Stone From The Sun and Mountain Jam) *
22 Ain’t Got The Blues *
23 Ain’t Much Left of Me

Charlie Starr – guitar, vocals
Paul Jackson – guitar, vocals
Richard Turner – bass
Brandon Still – keyboards
Brit Turner – drums
* with Benji Shanks


The Avett Brothers

24 Blue Ridge Mountain Blues
25 Cigarettes, Whiskey, and Wild Wild Women
26 Black Mountain Rag
27 Laundry Room
28 Paranoia in B Flat Major
29 No Hard Feelings

Seth Avett – guitar, vocals
Scott Avett – banjo, vocals
Bob Crawford – bass
Joe Kwon – cello


Warren Haynes and The Avett Brothers

30 If We Make It Through December (Merle Haggard)
31 You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere (Bob Dylan)


Warren Haynes and Ann Wilson

32 Southern Accents (Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers)
33 I Am The Highway * (Audioslave)

* with Jake Shimabukuro – ukuele


Trey Anastasio Band (“Classic TAB”)

34 Gotta Jibboo
35 Burn That Bridge
36 Everthing Is Right
37 Aqui Como Alla
38 Sand
39 Dark and Down
40 Set Your Soul Free
41 First Tube

Trey Anastasio – guitar, vocals
Bob Markellis – bass
Ray Packzowski – keyboards
Russ Lawton – drums


Warren Haynes and Trey Anastasio

42 Miss You
43 Midnight Rider
44 Morning Dew *

* with Holly Bowling – piano


Les Bros

45 Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More
46 In Memory of Elizabeth Reed *
47 Southbound **
48 Blue Sky ***
49 Dreams ****
50 Whipping Post ****

Warren Haynes – guitar, vocals
Marc Quiones – drums
Paul Riddle – drums
Jorgen Carlsson – bass
Bruce Katz – keyboards
Lamar Williams Jr – vocals

* w/ Mike Barnes – guitar
** w/ Mike Barnes – guitar, Craig Sorrells – trumpet, Brandon Niederauer – guitar
*** w/ Charlie Starr – guitar, vocals
**** w/ Marcus King – guitar


Marcus King Band

51 Jealous Man *
52 Where I’m Headed **
53 Rita Is Gone ***
54 Nobody Knows You ****

Marcus King – guitar, vocals

* with Stephen Campbell – guitar
** with Stephen Campbell, Brandon Niederauer – guitar
*** w/ Stephen Campbell – guitar, Dean Mitchell – trombone, Kyle Snuffer – saxophone, Craig Sorrels – trumpet
**** w/Craig Sorrels, Stephen Campbell, Dean Mitchell, Kyle Snuffer, Charlie Starr – vocals and guitar


Gov’t Mule

55 Traveling Tune
56 Thorns of Life
57 No Quarter *
58 Black Dog *
59 Cry Baby *
60 Mother Earth *
61 Immigrant Song *
62 Magic Man *
63 Mule **

Warren Haynes – guitar, vocals
Jorgen Carlsson – bass
Danny Louis – keyboards, trombone
Matt Abts – drums

* with Ann Wilson – vocals
** with Craig Sorrells – trumpet

[Photo by Michael Yanko from Rock Legends Photography]