Published on April 16th, 2013 | by Ballard Lesemann0
Warren Haynes and Gov’t Mule Step Out Again, Bootlegs in Hand
Gov’t Mule’s musical roots run mighty deep in Georgia. Lead singer/guitarist Warren Haynes, drummer Matt Abts, and late bassist Allen Woody jammed, recorded, and performed all over the state during their formative years in the mid-1990s, from old Allman Brothers haunts in Macon to the nightclubs and music halls of Athens and Atlanta.
For Haynes, Gov’t Mule’s dynamic musical journey is never-ending, despite the unexpected detours and challenges.
“I like so many different types of music and I’ve studied so many types of music. I express myself in different ways,” Haynes says. “A band like Gov’t Mule has a lot of influences and covers a lot of territories, as far as genres are concerned. When you play in a different situation, you’re responding to the sound of the musicians you’re playing with. That can carry over to whatever guitars, amplifiers, and effects might be involved, but you’re definitely resounding to the music of each individual thing. I think I’m very fortunate to have that opportunity. A lot of musicians might have the complaint that they don’t get to express themselves in a lot of different ways.”
Last fall, Haynes and his Mule cohorts took a look back at their early days when they released the six-disc Georgia Bootleg Box (Evil Teen), the first installment of a “bootleg series” of live albums. The collection documents a three-night stint at Athens, Ga.-based venue the Georgia Theatre in April 1996. Tracks from shows at the Roxy in Atlanta and the Elizabeth Reed Music Hall in Macon are in there, too. It’s the band’s first major release since 2009’s 11-song studio album By a Thread.
“The band has definitely evolved since that time,” Haynes says. “The original Gov’t Mule was changing and growing constantly. When Woody passed away in 2000, we were forced into a change of direction because it didn’t make sense to chase a chemistry that was gone.”
Haynes has pursued additional musical projects in recent years, including playing lead guitar on the road with the Allman Brothers and members of the Grateful Dead. He also toured around the country last spring with his side group in support of a soulful solo album titled Man in Motion.
“Timeless music exists for a reason,” says Haynes. “When you make music with the proper amount of integrity and intent — and there has to be some talent in there as well — that music is classic. Whenever I go back and hear the music I grew up listening to, it reminds me that that music raised the bar forever. If you’re hoping to be a rock ‘n’ roll band, you’ve got to compete with the greatest rock ‘n’ roll music ever made, and that’s not an easy task. Our challenge is always in front of us, because we’re choosing to keep that spirit alive and take into the future.”
Gov’t Mule’s fall and spring tours are their first major road trips since 2010. Haynes and Abts will have keyboardist Danny Louis and bassist Jorgen Carlsson on stage with them in North Charleston this week. It’s a different lineup with a classic Mule spirit.
“Anyone who’s ever lost a band member — especially a band member as important as Woody was to Gov’t Mule — they’ll agree that you don’t try and search for that ever again,” Haynes says. “You want to turn the page and open a new chapter. You want to take the same music and the same spirit and find a new chemistry that rivals the old chemistry. That’s what every band that’s been in this situation is faced with — and I know that first-hand from playing with the Allman Brothers and the Grateful Dead.”
Local fans will get to experience the Gov’t Mule chemistry when Haynes leads the band on its “Prepare to Shout! Tour” through the Lowcountry for a concert on April 21.
“I think we’ll be bringing out a lot of older hardcore fans, and we’re going to bring out some people who’ve only heard about Gov’t Mule and will get the chance to be a part of it for the first time,” Haynes says. “I meet people at shows, and sometimes, they’re 13 or 14 years old. It’s invigorating to hear them talk about seeing their first Gov’t Mule show and how they got turned on to it. It’s the same young people who’ve just discovered Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix. Gov’t Mule is one of the few entities out there that’s keeping that spirit going, you know?”
Gov’t Mule plays at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m. on Sun. April 21. The Revivalists will open the show. Tickets are available for $31. Visit mule.net and northcharlestoncoliseumpac.com for more.
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