Warren Haynes adopts new musical affiliations at a dizzying pace. The last 20 years in particular has seen him constantly busy with The Allman Brothers Band, The Dead and his own Gov’t Mule and Warren Haynes Band groups, for starters. For his new album, Ashes and Dust, he was in a rootsy, acoustic mood, and so he teamed with New Jersey’s Railroad Earth, with whom he has jammed occasionally over the years. They are currently on a joint mini-tour that comes to Town Hall in New York tonight, and the album comes out tomorrow.
“I’ve been writing songs all my life from a more folky, singer-songwriter, even Celtic direction,” Haynes told Relix.com. “For a while, I’ve been compiling songs that didn’t necessarily fit in with Gov’t Mule or the Allman Brothers or even my last solo album. So this record was really a chance to bring a lot of that music to fruition. It’s really given me the opportunity to take a lot of songs I love, that didn’t have a home, and build a home for them.”
Railroad Earth, whose music blends elements of bluegrass, country and rock, is fronted by Todd Sheaffer of From Good Homes, who co-wrote one song with Haynes for the album. The band’s other members (fiddler-guitarist Tim Carbone, mandolinist John Skehan, multi-instrumentalist Andy Goessling, drummer Carey Harmon and bassist Andrew Altman) have played with a variety of other Jersey bands as well. Guests on the album include Grace Potter (who duet with Haynes on “Gold Dust Woman”), Shawn Colvin, Allman Brothers Band members Oteil Burbridge and Marc Quiñones, and longtime Willie Nelson sideman Mickey Raphael.
Highlights include “Company Man,” a fond portrait of Haynes’ father; the soulful ballad “Glory Road”; and the expansive “Spots of Time,” co-written with The Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh. Haynes has said the album was recorded quickly, with just a few takes for each tracks, but Haynes and Railroad Earth give the impression that they’ve been playing together, heavily, for many years. Just like you’d expect from a bunch of old pros.
Here is a video of Haynes and Railroad Earth performing together: