If the sadly defunct H.O.R.D.E.
If the sadly defunct H.O.R.D.E. festival was still hitting sheds in 2000, it might have sounded something like this two-disc live set, recorded that year at Gov't Mule/Allman Brothers Band guitarist/ vocalist Warren Haynes' annual Christmas jam in Asheville, N.C. (his hometown). A gorgeous recording, this benefit for Habitat for Humanity follows the 2000 set Wintertime Blues, which featured the Mule, Susan Tedeschi, and others. On its follow-up, major players on the jam-band circuit (the Mule, the Allmans, Col. Bruce Hampton & the Aquarium Rescue Unit, etc.) are joined by the likes of Kevn Kinney, Edwin McCain, and Texas guitar slinger Chris Duarte on a set that includes a good mix of smokey roadhouse blues (the Allmans' swaying send-up "Soulshine" and Duarte's thrilling "Baddness") and rare acoustic performances. It's the latter that make this set truly special—Kinney and Blues Traveler's John Popper delivering "Scarred but Smarter," Haynes alone on the heartfelt "I'll Be the One," McCain and Haynes doing "Solitude," and all four on "I Shall Be Released." A must-have for the many Mule fans and Allmans collectors.—WO