Warren Haynes, the Man In Motion releases a solo album of soul
:: Warren Haynes Band ::
:: Ogden Theatre :: May 24 - 25 ::
By Timothy Dwenger
For years, people in the industry have referred to Warren Haynes as “The Hardest Working Man in the Music Business.” Haynes is constantly on a stage or in a studio somewhere with southern rock icons The Allman Brothers Band, The Dead, the band he founded Gov’t Mule, or one of the countless other projects he has contributed to over the years. Though he appears very calm and collected onstage, Haynes is a man constantly in motion. He is constantly creating and it is clear from listening to him that music flows through his veins and seeps out almost uncontrollably.
This spring, for only the second time in his storied career, Haynes is releasing a studio album that features solo material that wasn’t written with The Allman Brothers or Gov’t Mule in mind. In fact, the appropriately titled Man In Motion focuses on the genre of music that is at the core of his musical being: soul. It’s an album that showcases his gravel-and-honey voice as much, or more, than his guitar playing, and one that he has been aching to make since he first opened his mouth and started to sing.
When he set out to assemble the studio band for Man In Motion, Haynes was aiming high. “I put together my wish list of who would be my first-choice musicians to make the record with and thankfully everybody was available,” he said in recent interview with The Marquee from his home in New York City. The resulting cast of players reads like a who’s who of funk, blues and soul heavyweights with the legendary George Porter, Jr. of The Meters holding down the low end alongside the great New Orleans drummer Raymond Webber. On keys, Haynes enlisted two of the best in the business when he tapped Ivan Neville of Dumpstaphunk and Ian McLagan, a veteran of the Faces and the Rolling Stones. To round out the sound, Haynes asked Ruthie Foster to lend her powerful pipes to the mix and Ron Holloway joined the group on the tenor sax. Together, these seven musicians combined forces to become an immensely powerful soul band that is easily capable of transporting listeners back to the golden age of soul and R&B.
Once everyone had assembled down in Texas at Willie Nelson’s Pedemales Studio near Austin, the work began. “We were in the studio with the musicians for about six days and we recorded very old school; we would learn one song at a time,” Haynes said. “I would show the guys a song on the guitar and we would start rehearsing in the studio. When it felt like we were getting close to the song coming to fruition, we would start rolling the tape and try and capture one of the very early takes. We did this for a couple of reasons: one, this kind of music thrives so much on interpretation and improvisation that it’s good to capture that early energy, and then two, when you are dealing with musicians of this caliber, they are going to start bringing the magic early on so we don’t want to dwell on it, we want to kind of get a snapshot and move forward.
“We were recording with all of us live in the same room. We were looking at each other while we were recording to analog tape. I think most of the songs you hear on the record were complete takes. There might have been a couple where we used half of one take and half of another or something like that, but for the most part we stuck to the old school approach,” he said.
As is true with many bands in the “jamband” genre, where most of Haynes’ projects loosely fit, he is at his best when up onstage in front of thousands of dancing and smiling fans. “We are trying to capture the magic that we know we are capable of onstage, in the studio, and that’s the reverse of what I think most bands are trying to do. They try to replicate onstage what they have done in the studio. It was really fun just seeing the music grow because each take was totally different. When all was said and done we had to choose one and it was tough picking which one it was going to be,” said Haynes.
Of the 10 tracks that Haynes and his producing partner Gordie Johnson chose to represent him as a soul music artist, there is one cover and nine songs that he wrote, calling on influences like Albert King, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and B.B. King. It is a very complete album of roadhouse soul that shows Haynes’ depth as an artist while paying tribute to the musicians that made him who he is today. His guitar spars with Holloway’s sax while Neville’s organ swells in the background and Porter’s bass dances across the low end in perfect time. The intimate nature of the album seeps through the speakers and at times it feels like you are sitting in the studio alongside his group as they feed off each other.
Haynes may be a “Man In Motion” but he has managed to capture an amazing stop-action snapshot with this record, and it’s one that is sure to make an indelible mark on an already remarkable career.
:: Warren Haynes Band ::
:: Ogden Theatre :: May 24 – 25 ::
:: Belly Up :: May 26 ::
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