Guitar guru doesn’t miss a chance to collaborate

Warren Haynes

When music fans start listing the greatest guitar players of all time, there are certain names that inevitably come up. Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Eddie Van Halen are a few of the no-brainers who should always make the Top 10.

When Rolling Stone magazine compiled its own list last year, many rock fans noted the absence of Warren Haynes. While Haynes wasn’t on the main list, he was involved in the voting, and when Rolling Stone editor David Fricke compiled his own list, he placed Haynes at No. 23, just ahead of U2’s The Edge and right behind the late Mike Bloomfield.

Talking by phone from his hotel room in Asheville with Charleston Scene, Haynes acknowledges the honor, but is also quick to shrug it off.

“I was obviously honored and flattered to be on that list, especially that high,” said Haynes, who performs with the Warren Haynes Band tonight at the Charleston Music Hall.

“But you have to take those things with a grain of salt because they’re someone’s opinion. You can’t really place people in order like that, except as an opinion, because it’s not like a sport where there are statistics to rely on. Everybody has their own taste,” Haynes says.

The Warren Haynes Band is just one of many acts with which Haynes records and tours.

Since picking up a guitar at age 11, Haynes has played with David Allen Coe and is a member of The Allman Brothers Band, Gov’t Mule, Phil Lesh & Friends and The Dead.

In addition to playing with those bands, Haynes seems to pop up frequently at other artist’s shows. This fall at the Southern Ground Music and Food Festival on Daniel Island, Haynes joined headliner Zac Brown Band onstage for a few songs, including an incredible cover of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb.”

So why does he feel the need to be one of rock ’n’ roll’s biggest overachievers?

“I’m just grateful for the various opportunities that have come along, and it’s also not wanting to turn down something that I might look back on later and say, ‘I wish I’d done that,’ ” Haynes said.

When asked about his frequent collaborations with other bands, such as Zac Brown and the Dave Matthews Band, Haynes explains the attraction.

“It’s just really fun,” he said. “I really enjoy it, and most of that stuff happens in a very impromptu way. There’s no rehearsal, you just sort of do it, and it’s fun for the musicians and the audience.”

Haynes said one of his favorite moments came in 2003 when he performed a cover of Neil Young’s “Cortez the Killer” with the Dave Matthews Band in New York’s Central Park.

“Dave and I realized that we both knew the song, so we just kind of winged it, and it turned out to be a very memorable performance,” Haynes said. The performance can be heard on the Dave Matthews Band live CD “The Central Park Concert.”

For fans of one of Haynes‘ best-known projects, Gov’t Mule, Haynes said that tonight’s show with the Warren Haynes Band will be much different.

“The bands are very different stylistically,” he said. “Also, there are only a handful of songs that overlap between the two bands. They’ll mostly be hearing songs from my new album, “Man in Motion,” as well as my first solo album, “Tales of Ordinary Madness.” It’s very different from a Mule set list.”