After featuring Allman Brothers alumni, Derek Trucks, it felt appropriate to write about blues and rock guitarist, Warren Haynes. Haynes can be heard most often with the Allman Brothers and his own project, Gov’t Mule. Haynes has also toured with several other big name acts and he always delivers a great show. He plays guitar and sings with a raw passion that always leaves me wanting more. I collected a few articles that offer a background on Haynes and a lesson about his approach to slide guitar. You’ll also find a few video performances in the post too. Enjoy!
Gibson Lifestyle write up a good feature about Warren Haynes that sheds some light on his upbringing in the music world. Check it out here at http://www.gibson.com/en-us/Lifestyle/Features/warren-haynes-0504-2011/.
It’s been 18 years since Warren Haynes last entered the studio to record a solo album, but he’s no slacker. Haynes has been busy. Very busy. As rock’s foremost MVP singer-guitarist, the burly native of Asheville, North Carolina has been constantly on the move and in the spotlight for the past two decades.
During that time Haynes has belonged to three of the greatest live groups in rock history: his own Gov’t Mule, the Allman Brothers Band and the Dead. And while barely catching his breath between their tours and studio sessions, he’s also hit the road with Phil Lesh & Friends and cut tunes with the late bluesman Little Milton, his Allmans’ guitar foil Derek Trucks, hard rockers Corrosion of Conformity, Dave Matthews and many others.
No wonder it’s taken Haynes so long to get back into the studio to make the follow-up to his first solo disc, 1993’s Tales of Ordinary Madness. And no wonder his new album — on the revived Stax label, no less — is called Man in Motion.
Haynes describes the title track as “a snapshot of someone who is evolving and in constant change, written with myself in mind. I feel that musicians are students for life, so it’s important for me to always seek new experiences and throw myself curves, to remain inspired and challenged, and to grow. And while I’ve been thinking about getting back to another solo studio album for a long time now, I’ve had other things demanding my attention for at least the last 15 years.”
Make that three decades, because the truth is the golden-toned six-string virtuoso has not slowed down since he joined country music outlaw David Allan Coe’s group in 1980 at the tender age of 20. From there Haynes was handpicked by Allman Brothers founding guitarist Dickey Betts for his own Great Southern band, and then integrated into the Allmans’ line-up.
“I feel like I’ve connected the dots from one opportunity to another,” Haynes says, “and that’s pretty much been my story. I’ve been open to anything exciting that’s come along, whether it was joining the Allman Brothers, who were a tremendous influence on me when I was learning to play guitar, or founding Gov’t Mule.”
Making Man in Motion gave Haynes an opportunity to connect the dots once more — this time to his musical beginnings.
“Before I started playing guitar, I wanted to be a singer, right from the age of five or six,” he regales. “And what I wanted to sing was soul music. My brothers and I had just a handful of albums. They were the ‘best of’ collections by Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett, James Brown, the Temptations, Aretha Franklin… and later by the three Kings of the blues: Freddie King, B.B. King and Albert King. In fact, it was hearing B.B. and Freddie that made me realize you could be a great singer and a great guitar player. So I decided to model myself after them.”
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Man in Motion brings the heart of classic ’60s and ’70s soul and blues pumping back to life, stoked by Haynes’ timeless prowess as both a high-wire singer and a powerhouse guitarist. He draws on his deeply rooted vocal and six-string syntax to create melodies that frame the past and present, fusing classic themes of love, desire and loss with bristling, contemporary energy.
Tunes like Haynes’ uplifting “The River’s Gonna Rise” — an anthem of hope — and the Albert King-influenced string bender, “A Friend To You,” ring with the same authenticity as William Bell’s Stax-label jewel, “ Every Day is a Holiday,” the disc’s sole cover.
“In soul and blues, the vocal is really the centerpiece,” Haynes explains. “My singing has always come from a soul and blues direction, and Man in Motion really gave me a chance to bring that into focus.”
Nonetheless, there’s no shortage of numbers like “Sick of My Shadow,” which straddles the terrain of Haynes’ guitar universe, blending rock, soul, R&B and jazz in its introspective mix.
Fans of Haynes’ growling, distinctive signature six-string approach in Gov’t Mule and the Allman Brothers will notice a subtler — if no less adventurous — palette of guitar tones on Man in Motion.
“I was going for a kind of pre-rock sound,” Haynes explains. “These songs, based in soul and blues, really require cleaner tones to pay respect to the era that inspired them and to really get to the emotional heart of the matter. I used the wah-wah and a few other effects, but there’s a lot of B.B. King, Albert King and Freddie King influence on this album from a guitar standpoint.”
Although Haynes employed his Gibson signature model Les Paul Standard guitar for some numbers, a clutch of vintage Gibson semi-hollowbody instruments — ES-335 and ES-345 models from his extensive collection — account for most of the tracks, plus an archtop hollowbody that inspired his jazz break on “Sick of My Shadow.”
As usual, Haynes improvised his solos, playing live to two-inch tape along with the core band of fellow virtuosos that he assembled at Willie Nelson’s Pedernales Studio near Austin.
“I wanted to record this album just like the classic records that influenced me,” he notes. “The band played together on all the songs and we avoided overdubs. Even most of the vocals were live. It was important to catch the energy and emotion of music being made live by a group of great musicians.”
His cast of world-class players includes a trio of New Orleans R&B kingpins: bass legend George Porter, Jr. of the Meters, keyboardist-singer Ivan Neville and drummer Raymond Webber, who helped Haynes nail Man in Motion’s R&B, blues and soul-soaked grooves. Veteran Small Faces and Rolling Stones pianist Ian McLagan, folk-blues sensation Ruthie Foster and tenor saxist Ron Holloway joined them. Foster and Neville are perfect vocal foils for Haynes’ own blend of sugar and gravel, and as a threesome they conjure harmonies that sound right out of the original Stax and Hi Records Memphis soul playbooks.
“For this kind of music,” Haynes adds, “that vocal chemistry is essential. I was really fortunate. I put my wish list of musicians together and they were all available and excited about the project.”
Haynes is touring behind Man In Motion this spring and summer while Gov’t Mule is on hiatus, and then regrouping with his Mule-mates to write and rehearse songs for their 17th album.
“There are other projects I want to do, too,” he relates. “I’m interested in recording a singer-songwriter oriented album with more acoustic instruments, a jazzy instrumental CD and a straight-up blues record. But like Man in Motion, those albums will have to wait until the time is right.”
The next article offers an introduction to the slide guitar featuring Warren Haynes. Haynes talks about a few of the open tunings he started out with on slide guitar and should be a great tool to use for those of you interested in your slide playing. Find the full article here at http://www.guitarworld.com/jam-session-warren-haynes-getting-started-slide-guitar.
When I first started to play slide guitar, I would play in standard tuning. I soon discovered that many slide guitarists tune their strings to form a chord, such as D (low to high: D A D F# A D), E (E B E G# B E), G (D G D G B D) or A (E A E A C# E). These are the most widely used tunings for slide playing. Each one enables you to form a major chord anywhere on the neck by simply positioning the slide directly over any particular fret. Of course, you could also form a major chord by barring your index finger across the strings behind any given fret.
FIGURES 1a and 1b illustrate how to get from standard tuning to open E and open A tunings, respectively.
Let’s start by familiarizing ourselves with some standard chord forms in open E tuning. Standard 12-bar blues is often referred to as a “I-IV-V” (one-four-five), because the progression uses the one chord, the four chord and the five chord of whatever key you’re in. In the key of E, E (major) is the I (one) chord, A is the IV (four) chord and B is the V (five) chord.
FIGURE 2 illustrates these chords played in open E tuning. As you can see, the IV chord, A, is formed by barring a single finger across all of the strings at the fifth fret, and the V chord, B, is produced by barring at the seventh fret. Another E chord is formed by barring at the 12th fret.
Now let’s try the same thing using a slide. First, you’ll need to decide on which finger of your left hand you wish to “wear” the slide. Most slide players wear the slide on either their middle, ring or pinkie finger. Johnny Winter, Lowell George and Ry Cooder use their pinkies; Duane Allman wore the slide on his ring finger, which is the finger that Derek Trucks and I use; and Bonnie Raitt and Ronnie Wood use their middle fingers. Each finger has its own advantages and disadvantages, so you need to experiment with each one and decide which finger works best for you.
Once you’ve figured this out, you’ll need to find a slide that fits your finger comfortably. It shouldn’t be too tight or too loose—just snug enough so that it won’t move around too much. The other decision you’ll need to make is whether to use a glass slide or a metal slide. I’ve used both, and my preference is to use the original glass Coricidin bottles (Coricidin was a cold medication no longer available), which is the type of slide Duane used.
When placing the slide against the strings, it should be directly above and parallel with the given fret. Apply even pressure with the slide so that it lightly presses against all of the strings. The strings should not come in contact with the frets, so make sure you don’t press them down too far. Lightly lay any remaining fingers that are behind the slide—between the slide and your guitar’s nut—across the strings. Your ring, middle and index fingers should lay lightly across the strings. “Damping” the string like this will help eliminate unwanted overtones and will allow the notes and chords you play with the slide to sound clearer.
In open E tuning, an A chord can be sounded by laying the slide across all of the strings directly above the fifth fret. Likewise, a B chord is sounded by positioning the slide above the seventh fret and the high E chord is sounded by moving the slide up to the 12th fret. When playing slide, always keep in mind that, unlike conventional fretting, in which you push the string down behind the fret with one of your fingers, the slide should be positioned directly over the fret (that is, unless you intentionally want to go below or above the pitch of the intended note). If the slide is not directly above the fret, or is not parallel to it, at least some of the notes you’re playing will be improperly intonated, which means they’ll sound out of tune and sour. Again, sometimes experienced slide players intentionally do this for dramatic effect. My advice, though, is to strive for good intonation when starting out.
Now let’s try doing the same thing with the slide in open A tuning, as shown in FIGURE 3. In the key of A, A is the I chord, D is the IV chord and E is the V chord. In open A tuning, an A chord is sounded either by strumming all of the open strings or laying the slide against the strings at the 12th fret and strumming them; a D chord is sounded by positioning the slide at the fifth fret; and an E chord is sounded by moving it up to the seventh fret. One thing to keep in mind when using open A tuning is that, unlike open E tuning, in which the root note of each chord is on the sixth string, the root note is on the fifth string. Unless you intentionally want to have a fifth of the chord on the bottom of the voicing, you may want to strum the top five strings when playing chords in open A tuning.
I found a treat on YouTube. Joe Bonamassa sat in with Warren Haynes and his band, Gov’t Mule, for a killer rendition of “Breakin’ up somebody’s home.” Check it out here at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnLs7tpsnw0&feature=related.
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Lastly, I found a cool interview with Haynes about his history with the Allman Brothers. When the video was created, Haynes had been with the group 20 years, and they were celebrating the band’s 40 year anniversary. Check it out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AvPq8UMnCs.
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Warren Haynes is a great player that always seems to play from his heart. I look forward to the music he has yet to make.