Warren Haynes on Mountain Jam 2016: ‘It Was a Really Wonderful Weekend’
Warren Haynes is a Mountain Jam institution. In addition to playing at the event with his band Gov't Mule every year since its inception in 2005, Haynes is involved in producing the now-four-day festival and is one of several people who help select each year's lineup. In 2016, Haynes even stepped up and performed a solo set when originally scheduled artist Gary Clark Jr. had to cancel at the last minute.
"This year was really fun," Haynes told The Boot on Sunday (June 5), Mountain Jam 2016's final day. "It was a great lineup of music. Up until [Sunday], the weather held out very well. I thought it was a really wonderful weekend."
Admittedly, Mountain Jam has gone through a number of changes in its 12 years: The first Mountain Jam was a one-day event designed to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Radio Woodstock, featuring Gov't Mule; Medeski, Martin & Wood; Robert Randolph & the Family Band and Xavier Rudd. Today, Mountain Jam is a four-day, camping-included festival that features jam bands, still, but also folk, rock, soul, Americana and more.
"We try to make it more diverse and keep branching out and bringing in different genres of music," Haynes notes. "It still has the same spirit it started with, which is a lot of jam bands and stuff, but ... it's really kind of growing in a lot of new directions.
"I think to go too far away from the original spirit would be the wrong thing to do," he adds. "What we're trying to do is figure out a way of appealing to people that love a lot of different types of music, but people who look at music as something very important in their lives."
Indeed, even with the addition of acts such as Jason Isbell, that free-flowing, collaborative spirit is alive and well. Throughout Mountain Jam 2016, the artists could be seen playing with and praising each other: For example, Isbell checked out Courtney Barnett's set before his own performance on Friday (June 3), then stuck around to jam a bit with Wilco later that night.
"Anytime you play music with people in a situation other than the one you're used to, it's always a nice, fun challenge," explains Haynes, who showed up onstage during sets from Umphrey's McGee, the Marcus King Band and more, "and for me, I love so many different types of music that it's important to explore as many of them as possible."
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