I went to the xmas jam last weekend and as expected it didnt disapoint. I heard a lot of grumbling about the lineup this year, but I was excited because I had never seen any of the acts (at least not in the configuration they performed in there). And the last minute announcement of the avett brothers certainly didnt hurt. the show opened with warren and the blind boys of alabama. the blind boys performed beautifully as everyone expected, the respect and interest of the crowd was obvious, as I have noticed at other xmas jams there is always a high level honor given to the elder statesmens of music who are there and i really appreciate that. I like to see such reverence given by the fans and fellow musicians alike, even though these acts arent the ones that make this event sell out every year. their set like some of the others felt extremely brief, which was my only complaint of the night. If you can really complain about having so many talented acts that it is hard to fit them into one evening. Next trombone shorty and orleans avenue came out for a fun high energy set, which was also quite brief. After that came the avett brothers which for me was one of the best sets of the night, although they focused on newer material which I was not famaliar with. they even broke out a song for the first time live there. it is interesting warren didnt sit in with them, something i dont think i have ever seen happen with a major guest at the jam (this was the 4th i attended). Next came on sheryl crow who's set was basically what you would expect from her with some hit singles and such. She isnt really my cup of tea musically for say, but im not going to shit all over her as so many see fit to do, if warren saw it fit to have her there thats good enough for me. Next came the long anticipated set from string cheese which for the most part lived up to the hype. I am by no means a major cheese person but I was excited to see them live for the first time, their song selections in some regards I thought could be better but werent by any means bad. I would say desert dawn was the best tune of the whole show. Also really enjoyed joyful sound, and outside & inside with warren sitting in. They closed the set out with a bunch of guests on quinn the eskimo, this would be the closest thing anyone offered to the dead cover I was expecting at some point during the evening. Then the evening was closed out by the warren haynes band set, I was interested to see this group after having seen warren play with govt mule, p&f, allman bros, solo and with the dead numerous times. I enjoyed it, a refreshing change from govt mule which has closed the jam every other time I have went. I really liked their take on spanish castle magic and the imagine sandwich of an encore was pretty cool too. Overall the jam was great, a whirlwind of very good and varied music. It felt less laid back in a way than before probably because the added time constraints of being on TV but it was not a big difference. I would also say the venue did alot better at getting people in the door and distributing beer bracelets than in my past experiences. Warren haynes is a badass and I feel pretty blessed that this special event takes place so close to were I am from, the 25th anniversy xmas jam next year is sure to be quite an epic event.
full setlists and notes on the numerous sit-ins and such can be found here: