When Nigel Hall was playing around Portland a few years ago, he was one of the many local musicians hoping to build a fan base and make music a full-time career.

Now, as he prepares to play with the Warren Haynes Band at Portland’s State Theatre on Saturday, he can say he’s pretty much accomplished those things. Haynes is a rock veteran who founded Gov’t Mule and has been a longtime member of The Allman Brothers Band.

“We had met through some mutual friends, and I had heard a lot of good things about him. Then I found out what a great singer and keyboard player he is,” said Haynes of Hall. “So I’m excited for him to be able to come back to Portland to play.”

Hall, 29, lived in the Washington, D.C., area until his family moved to the Bangor area when he was 15. He eventually formed a band and became a staple of the Portland music scene. He moved to New York a few years ago to pursue more musical opportunities.

“I am excited to come back, because Portland is really where I started to cut my teeth as a musician,” he said. “I’m so appreciative of everyone in that scene.”

While in Portland, Hall played with sax player Ryan Zoidis, a former member of Rustic Overtones and the national act Soulive. While in New York, Hall met Haynes through members of Soulive.

“I met Warren when a bunch of us went to see a show by Ivan Neville and Dumpstaphunk,” said Hall. “He said then, ‘One day, we’ll play together.’ “

Haynes, 51, is a native of Asheville, N.C., and has several musical projects going at once. With The Warren Haynes Band, the focus is predominantly soul music — specifically, the soul of Haynes’ earliest musical heroes, including James Brown, Wilson Pickett, and Sam and Dave.

“That’s where I learned how to sing, from those guys, and I sang before I ever played guitar,” said Haynes.

With Gov’t Mule, Haynes’ focus is jamming on songs that blend reggae, soul, rock and a host of other genres. His work with the Allman Brothers is more about guitar-driven rock.

“It keeps things interesting,” he said. “If I only did one thing, I’d get burnt out, I think. This keeps me fresh and inspired.”

For his part in the band, Hall often plays an old-school keyboard, like a Hammond B-3 or Wurlitzer organ. Playing old-style soul is right up his alley.

“Playing keyboards with this music is fun,” he said. “I’m really into it, into being able to add the vibe.”

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

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