One of Asheville’s most popular holiday traditions is taking a one-year hiatus. The Warren Haynes Christmas Jam has raised $2.7 million over 20 years for the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity, but Haynes said Tuesday he and the Jam are skipping 2019.
Haynes is an Asheville native, longtime guitarist with the Allman Brothers Band and founding leader of the Southern rock jam band Government Mule. Haynes threw his first Christmas Jam in 1988 and, through the Jam, began raising money 10 years later for Habitat for Humanity. That money has paid for building nearly 60 homes in West Asheville, South Asheville and Candler.
Despite icy, snowy conditions outside, Dave Grohl’s performances lifted the 30th anniversary 2018 rendition into perhaps the most memorable in the Jam’s history. Beyond two nights at the U.S. Cellular Center, musicians continued with an impromptu jam at the Orange Peel. Over the years, Ben Harper, Trey Anastasio, Michael Franti, Steve Earle, Grace Potter and Jason Isbell are among others who have graced the Jam stage.
In a written statement, Haynes gave no concrete reasons for skipping the 2019 Jam other than to say “it feels like the right time to take a brief moment to press pause. We have poured our heart and soul into creating this annual event and our commitment to serve the Asheville community and Habitat for Humanity remains strong.” Through a publicist, Haynes didn’t respond to a request to elaborate.
Haynes’ brother, Brian Haynes, was fired in September as an assistant manager with Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity after 13 years with the nonprofit. At the time, Brian Haynes, an Asheville City Councilmember, told the Asheville Citizen-Times he was fired after protesting the company’s anti-marijuana policy and refusing to take a drug test.
NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed the total money raised by the Christmas Jam for Habitat for Humanity.