Around town: Warren Haynes’ Christmas Jam returns for 32nd year

Jam session: Last year’s Christmas Jam was the first since 2018. The annual event attracts a sellout crowd. Photo by Jay Blakesberg

Christmas Jam, a uniquely Asheville holiday tradition in its 32nd year, will kick off at Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville on Saturday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m. The marathon concert, led by hometown Grammy Award-winning musician Warren Haynes, will feature Slash and Myles Kennedy, Billy F. Gibbons, Jason Bonham‘s Led Zeppelin Evening, American Babies, Clutch and Haynes’ band Gov’t Mule, as well as surprise guests and local musicians.

The event, which has been known to run for six hours or more, will benefit Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity and BeLoved Asheville. 

Haynes says that his team starts making calls to artists in the spring and that they try to include musicians who have never been involved and those who have expressed interest.

“Slash and Myles Kennedy and Billy Gibbons have all talked about coming in the past, and this is the first time it’s worked out schedule-wise, so that’s really good,” he says. “In the case of Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Evening, we were on tour together and hanging out a lot, and I just brought it up. And he’s like, ‘Let’s do it.’

“I like a diverse lineup, to be covering as many different styles as possible. This year is pretty rock, last year was a little country-leaning. It just changes depending on who’s available.” Haynes adds that a previously unannounced performance from trio John Medeski, George Porter Jr. and Joe Russo was recently confirmed.

This year, presale tickets were sold to locals in person, after Haynes received feedback from local community members that they were being shut out due to online ticket sales. He says it’s “an amazing feeling” to see how much the event has grown since it started in 1988. “The very first one was just local musicians jamming for the love of playing together and donating what small money we would make to charity. None of us had any idea that it would go well beyond that, especially to the level that it has.”

The Benefit Concert Volume 20, multi-CD/DVD/vinyl collection sets from the 30th annual Jam recorded live in December 2018, will be released Friday, Dec. 8. The collection features performances from Dave Grohl, Eric Church, Joe Bonamassa, Grace Potter and Mike Gordon, among many others.

“There’s something about not just the event itself but the music that gets played at Christmas Jam that is so beautiful and honest,” says Haynes. “It’s music being made by musicians that are giving. And there’s something about that that reminds everyone of why we became musicians in the first place. And some of the best music I’ve ever heard has taken place onstage at Christmas Jam. Yeah, I really want to keep it going as long as we can.”

Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville is at 87 Haywood St. For more information, visit

An Appalachian Christmas Revue

Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre is offering pay-what-you-wish tickets for “Christmas Time’s a Comin’: An Appalachian Christmas Revue.” The annual holiday show plays Thursday, Dec. 7, and Friday, Dec. 8, at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 9, at 2 p.m., at the Owen Theatre on the campus of Mars Hill University.

The show will feature performances by members of the theater company accompanied by a live band playing holiday classics in a bluegrass style.

“We believe that live theater is a transformative experience that should be accessible to everyone,” says William Tyler Ezzell, managing artistic director, in a press release. “Offering pay-what-you-wish tickets for our Christmas Revue [is] our way of giving back to the community and ensuring that everyone can experience the magic of the holiday season.”

Owen Theatre is at 44 College St., Mars Hill. For more information, visit

‘Crechefest’ returns

“O Come Let Us Adore Him: Christmas Creches from Around the World” returns to First Baptist Church of Asheville from Wednesday, Dec. 6, to Wednesday, Dec. 13, after a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over 250 Nativity sets from over 60 countries will be on display during the event, also known as #crechefest on social media. The free exhibit will be open to the public during the week from 5-8 p.m. and on the weekend from noon-6 p.m.

The event will highlight the cultural diversity of crèches on display, while honoring the common theme of Christ’s birth.

The last event in 2019 attracted over 2000 attendees. A virtual event was held in 2020.

First Baptist Church of Asheville is at 5 Oak St. For more information, visit

A book on growing up in Asheville

Asheville native Joseph Scotchie‘s ninth book, The Asheville Connection: The Making of a Conservative, was published this past summer. It is the final in a trilogy, preceeded by 1970 and When New York Was the World.

The memoir is Scotchie’s reflections on growing up in Asheville and visiting with his grandparents in Youngstown, Ohio, in the 1960s — a period he calls “normal.” For him, normalcy meant “father-mother-children” family units, better public schools and safer streets.

“Americans were optimistic about the future — proof positive was that couples had more children and at an earlier age,” he says.

Scotchie believes busing was the reason for the middle class fleeing school districts and “ruining” public education and the two-parent family unit.

“The immigration bill of 1965, plus illegal immigration, has transformed America possibly to the point of no return,” he adds, and says that because a larger percentage of the American population was white in the ’60s, “there was not the identity crisis plaguing the country today.”

Scotchie says he was inspired to write by reading memoirs of Alfred Kazin and H.L. Mencken in college, as well as his friend Paul Gottfried‘s recent book, Encounters: My Life with Nixon, Marcuse, and Other Friends and Teachers.

Scotchie currently lives in New York City but treasures his Asheville memories. “Growing up in an area that has produced so many world-class writers … has been an inspiration to me for decades and remains so to this day.”

For more information, visit

Blue Ridge Guitar Camp application deadline

Applications for the third annual Blue Ridge Guitar Camp are due Monday, Jan. 1. The camp, hosted by Bryan Sutton, will take place on the campus of Brevard Music Center from Wednesday, May 29-Sunday, June 2. Instructors for this year’s camp include Chris Eldridge, Courtney Hartman, Michael Daves, Jake Workman and Charlotte Carrivick.

For more information, visit




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About Andy Hall
Andy Hall graduated from The University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication. After working at the United States Capitol for ten years, she has returned to her native state to enjoy the mountains — and finally become a writer.

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