By Pete Zamplas- The Asheville Amadeus 2019 festival will rock socks off with Rachmaninoff, and a special collaboration of Grammy-winning hard rocker Warren Haynes with the Asheville Symphony Orchestra.
The ten-day festival is March 15-24, and has concerts, workshops and a fashion show, featuring the Asheville Symphonettes.
Warren Haynes Presents Dreams & Songs: A Symphonic Experience is Sunday, March 17 at 7 p.m. That second show was added last week, after the one on March 16 sold out. The venue is 2,354-seat Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, at 87 Haywood St. Tickets are $46-$72, and go on sale via Ticketmaster this Thursday, Feb. 21 at 10 a.m. Presale tickets (via WarrenHaynes.net) went online Tuesday.
Asheville native Haynes has fronted jam band Gov’t Mule for 25 years and for 23 albums, and also the Warren Haynes Band starting in 2010.
He gained worldwide attention playing guitar with the Allman Brothers Band in 1989-97, and with former Grateful Dead members. He has accompanied the Dave Matthews Band, and Derek Trucks Band.
Haynes is acclaimed as among the finest virtuosic guitarists, and is known for up to 15-minute guitar solos.
The all-star rock lineup for Asheville Amadeus has Haynes on lead electric guitar, keyboardist John Medeski of jazz-rock-funk fusion jam band Medeski, Martin & Wood, Allman bassist Oteil Burbridge, and Asheville-based Jeff Sipe who drummed for Leftover Salmon. Sipe and Col. Bruce Hampton founded the Aquarium Rescue Unit. Sipe’s own band is jazz fusion, and recently played in Asheville.
Joining them is Asheville Symphony, for what organizers call a “symphonic take on his (Haynes’) classic, career-spanning material” and also songs of the Allman Bros. and Grateful Dead.
“We’re delighted to have the opportunity to perform with this master musician,” festival organizers stated.
Haynes is known for assembling star rock musicians, as he has done since ’88 for his annual Christmas Jam to benefit local Habitat for Humanity. His Warren Haynes & Friend act in ’05 included Medeski, and was the house band for the late-night talk show Last Call with Carson Daly.
His third and latest solo CD is entitled Ashes & Dust. This brings to “fruition” acoustic originals he has penned but did not fit his hard rock bands, he notes on his website. “I’ve been writing songs all my life (since age 14) from a more folky, singer-songwriter, even Celtic direction.” The Americana band Railroad Earth recorded on his CD, and Grace Potter helps sing Fleetwood Mac’s “Gold Dust Woman” rustic ballad on it.
Haynes, now 58, wrote “story song” lyrics for the CD that “transport you to another place and time.” He likes to achieve “balance between structure and focus, and improvisation” in the studio with even more jamming in concert.
The other festival main star is noted “Rach” pianist Garrick Ohlsson. He plays twice. First is on Saturday, March 23 at 2 p.m. He performs then in Wolfe, with the Asheville Symphony Youth Orchestra’s four orchestras and percussion ensemble. They will play works of Wolfgang Amadeus (thus the festival name) Mozart, Edvard Grieg and Arturo Marquez. Tickets are $25, or $15 per youth.
Ohlsson also headlines the Finale Concert (Masterworks 6) on Sunday, March 24, 4 p.m. in Wolfe. Ohlsson will play Rachmaninoff’s intricate Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, and Piano Concerto No. 2. Tickets start at $15, and are $93 for unique on-stage seating. A 32-foot stage extension puts the symphony closer than usual to the audience. This show is touted as an epic “celebration of musical gluttony.”
Ballet with Bach and Rach is March 17, noon and again at 1 p.m. Dancers will interpret Johan Sebastian Bach and Sergei Rachmaninoff pieces, with neoclassical ballet. The venue is Ballet Conservatory of Asheville Studios, at 6 East Chestnut St. Tickets are $10, or $5 per youth.
The free festival kickoff and craft beer release is Friday, March 15 at 5 p.m. in Burial Beer Co. Taproom at 40 Collier Ave. in Downtown Asheville’s South Slope section. The new beer is The Righteous and Barbaric Souls Imperial Stout, inspired by “lavish and profound” Mozart and with flavor hints of chocolate and apricot.
Violinist Midori (Goto) was the Asheville Amadeus headliner two years ago, and rejoiced in teaching local youth musicians in festival workshops.
Asheville Symphony debuted in 1960. Its music director is Darko Butorac.
For festival tickets, call 254-7046, visit the symphony office at 27 College Place’s Suite 100 in Asheville. Check ashevillesymphony.org, for links to all 22 festival events, and to buy their tickets.