Formed: 1995 in Atlanta GA
Blues-rock guitarist Warren Haynes has largely eschewed solo work in favor of using his talents to support a number of bands, the most notable being the Allman Brothers Band. Gov't Mule fulfills both Haynes' predilection for the band format and offers the talented singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist a creative outlet missing from his other musical collaborations.
A Musical Side Project
By 1994, guitarist Warren Haynes and bass player Allen Woody had spent half a decade playing together with the re-formed Allman Brothers Band. The two talented musicians shared an affinity for the loudly-amped, blues-based power trio sound of bands like Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience so, recruiting former Dickey Betts Band drummer Matt Abts, they formed Gov't Mule as a musical side project and released their self-titled debut album in 1995.
While continuing to tour with the ABB, Gov't Mule enjoyed a modicum of success among fans of the growing mid-1990s "jam band" movement. The Mule released a live album as its sophomore effort, Live At Roseland Ballroom culled from the band's New Year's Ever 1995/New Year's Day 1996 shows. When the Allman Brothers Band finished up its 1997 tour, Haynes and Woody left to focus exclusively on Gov't Mule. The band's third disc, 1998's Dose, showed an evolution in the band's sound, incorporating more of a Southern rock vibe alongside the band's trademark heavy blues-rock sound.
Life Before Insanity
Gov't Mule's two-disc Live...With A Little Help From Our Friends captures the energy and vitality of the band's 1998 New Year's Eve concert, the trio joined onstage by friends like the Allman Brothers Band, the Black Crowes, and guitarist Derek Trucks. The entire show would later be released as a four-disc set with concert video. After a couple of years of heavy touring, the band would release their most accomplished studio set to date, Life Before Insanity, in early 2000. Tragically, Allen Woody would be found dead in his New York City hotel room on August 26th, 2000.
With plans already in place to record their next album, Haynes and Abts decided to use guest stars for 2001's The Deep End, Vol. 1, which includes contributions from bassists like Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Cream's Jack Bruce, the Who's John Entwistle, and Bootsy Collins, among others. The sessions proved so fruitful that a second edition, The Deep End, Vol. 2, was released the following year, featuring Les Claypool of Primus, ex-Metallica member Jason Newsted, and former Hendrix sideman Billy Cox. A documentary film of the sessions, called Rising Low, was filmed by Phish bassist Mike Gordon.
Gov't Mule sojourned back into the studio with two new band members, bassist Andy Hess and keyboardist Danny Louis, to record 2004's Deja Voodoo. Using the band's blues-rock blueprint as a musical foundation, the newly-expanded Mule used Louis' raging keyboards to add an element of Southern funk to its sound. The same line-up followed two years later with High & Mighty, another critically-acclaimed effort that was supported by the band's constant touring and lively performances at festivals like Bonnaroo, All Good, and Mountain Jam.
The Mule took an unexpected musical detour with 2007's reggae-tinged Mighty High, which included guest appearances from Jamaican legends Toots Hibbert and Willi Williams. Bassist Andy Hess would leave the band in 2008, to be replaced by Jorgen Carlsson for 2009's By A Thread. A return to the Mule's hard-driving blues-rock bluster, By A Thread is supported by a lengthy band tour extending into 2010. Aside from Gov't Mule, Haynes continues to play with the Allman Brothers Band whenever Gregg Allman calls, and the guitarist spent the summer of 2009 touring with members of the Grateful Dead as The Dead.[/p
Recommended Albums: While any of the live discs provide a showcase for the band's talents, Gov't Mule's Dose is one of their most adventurous outings, an inspired mix of blues and rock with a Southern slant, and including both a traditional Son House song and a Beatles' tune. Deja Voodoo, featuring a new line-up, comes in a close second, although every Mule fan has their favorite among the band's growing catalog.
Gov't Mule - Select Discography
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- Gov't Mule (Relativity, 1995)
- Live From Roseland Ballroom (Foundation Records, 1996)
- Dose (Capricorn Records, 1998)
- Live...With A Little Help From Our Friends (Capricorn Records, 1999)
- Life Before Insanity (Capricorn Records, 2000)
- The Deep End, Vol. 1 (ATO Records, 2001)
- The Deep End, Vol. 2 (ATO Records, 2002)
- The Deepest End, Live In Concert (ATO Records, 2003)
- Deja Voodoo (ATO Records, 2004)
- High & Mighty (ATO Records, 2006)
- Mighty High (ATO Records, 2007)
- By A Thread (Evil Teen Records, 2009)