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Author: Subject: Gov't Mule: last of a dying breed?

Zen Peach





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  posted on 12/31/2008 at 11:45 PM
By Tom Murphy Jr.
Senior Reporter

You may not be able to tell by listening to pop radio, but rock’n’roll is alive and well thanks to Gov’t Mule.

Unless you are tuned in to the local classic rock station, it is rare to hear the kind of soulful guitar sound made popular long ago by the likes of Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin.

But a lack of mainstream airplay hasn’t deterred Gov’t Mule from enjoying success. In fact, it probably helps.

“The charts have always been filled with stuff that’s less than amazing,” said Warren Haynes, lead vocalist and guitarist. “It would be easy for me to get frustrated with that but I have been so fortunate in my career. Gov’t Mule gets away with murder because we do exactly what we want to do and our audience keeps growing.”

Gov’t Mule formed in 1994. They began as a side project, a collaboration between Haynes, drummer Matt Abts and the late bassist Allen Woody. Haynes and Woody were also both members of the reunited Allman Brothers Band. In 1997, Gov’t Mule could no longer be just a side project. Both Haynes and Woody officially left the Allman Brothers Band to focus on Gov’t Mule. But, as the band’s popularity was escalating, tragedy struck. On Aug. 26, 2000 Woody was found dead in his hotel room.

“After Allen passed away, our first thought was to end Gov’t Mule,” Haynes said. “Each member is so important to the chemistry that not having one of those members changes everything drastically.”

Haynes said he spoke with many different musicians who had lost band mates and continued to make music, such as Phil Lesh of the Greatful Dead, who lost Jerry Garcia; Gregg Allman, who lost his brother Dwayne; and Dave Grohl of Nirvana, who lost Kurt Cobain.

“The overall message that everybody was trying to get through was ‘I know you don’t think you can keep going or maybe that you even should keep going, but you’ve got to. You’ve got to keep the music alive,’” Haynes said. “‘You’ve got to take it where it’s supposed to go, even though this is a very difficult time for you.’”

When the band did continue, they held a tribute concert featuring 25 bass players from around the world. Each song on the set was played by a different bassist in honor of Woody. The event sparked the return of Gov’t Mule and they have not stopped since.

The band has enjoyed much success from numerous nationwide tours to a Grammy nomination in 2003 for the song “Sco-Mule.” They have sold over 1.5 million downloads on their website, Mule.net, and to this day they have sold over a million albums — all this without being on mainstream radio.

But for Haynes, it is not success that drives him, it’s the love for music. Aside from Gov’t Mule, Haynes plays solo acoustic shows and sits in with other bands and musicians. He is also once again a member of The Allman Brothers Band.

“The Allman Brothers Band were one of my favorite bands growing up,” Haynes said. “I played a lot of their music as a teenager. I joined the band in 1989. I’ve known Gregg Allman for over 25 years now and it’s an extreme honor to be on stage with him and to be writing and recording songs with him.”

Haynes said while the Allman Brothers Band had been influential for decades, he is very pleased with the music currently being produced by the Allman Brothers Band.

“I think the most important factor of the overall picture of our relationship is that the music that we’re making right now is extremely vital and important, and in some ways as good or better than the music that the band had made in the past,” Haynes said. “That’s what makes us fired up about what we’re doing.”

Right now, for Haynes, the focus is on Gov’t Mule and the upcoming Kinder Revolution Tour. Gov’t Mule will be playing at the Royal Oak Music Theatre on Nov. 11. Haynes said that it is always special to play in the Detroit area.

“Detroit is a rock ‘n’ roll town, it always has been,” Haynes said. “There’s a vibe that you get when you come to play. When you think of Detroit you think of serious rock ‘n’ roll fans, so with Gov’t Mule being part of a dying breed in my mind, which is a real rock ‘n’ roll band, it’s a perfect fit.”

The up-and-coming band back door slam will open for Gov’t Mule. Originating from the Isle of Man, a tiny kingdom in the Irish Sea near Liverpool, they have only been in America for less than two years. Guitarist, singer and songwriter Davy Knowles leads the group. Drummer Ross Doyle and bassist Adam Jones complete the trio. Knowles said he is very excited to be part of this upcoming tour.

Back Door Slam has been seen on Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Early Show, and recently completed a tour with Kid Rock and Lynyrd Skynyrd. The band has also become very popular on YouTube, especially with their rendition of Jimi Hendrix’s “Red House.”

“I remember playing that song as a pub band back on the Isle of Man in front of 20 people. And to play it at Bonnaroo or a big gig like that it’s a big thrill, just to be lucky to have come so far, but still playing some of the same songs. Back then we would’ve never dreamed of playing in front of 10,000 people,” Knowles said.

Knowles said he does believe the classic rock sound is dying out to some degree but great rock ‘n’ roll music can still be heard by bands like Kings of Leon and the White Stripes. And while they are influenced by some of the classic rock icons, they are not accepting the responsibility to keep the style alive.

“We’re not on a mission,” Knowles said. “We’re just trying to play the music we enjoy.”
It is fair to say that rock ‘n’ roll may be dying, but with bands like Gov’t Mule and Back Door Slam continuing to play great music in front of devoted fans, it can never truly be dead.
http://www.oaklandpostonline.com/read_article.php?id=710

 

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Peach Head



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  posted on 1/1/2009 at 12:26 PM
Everything I just read is totally true and real, but ROCK N ROLL is timeless and ageless so it will fade at times and at other times it will SHINE sort of like the finish on Warrens Les Paul.
 

True Peach



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  posted on 1/1/2009 at 04:08 PM

 

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Pete

 

Peach Bud



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  posted on 1/1/2009 at 07:37 PM
quote:
Everything I just read is totally true and real, but ROCK N ROLL is timeless and ageless so it will fade at times and at other times it will SHINE sort of like the finish on Warrens Les Paul.

Agreed. Music itself is timeless, it comes in waves without every forgetting the past. I've had many conversations regarding the evolution of music, but it was always with a center-point of mainstream music. Music itself brightens and wanes like the moon, I'm just glad I share the time frame of Mister Warren Haynes and thee Gov't Mule.

 

Zen Peach



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  posted on 1/2/2009 at 10:40 AM
I'll never forget when guitar based rock first revived as a major thing with the Seattle grunge in the early 90's. After growing up in the 80's I never thought it would return. I thought we were going to be hearing synth pop and MTV bubblegum forever. So it is true. Rock will never die, it just goes into hibernation sometimes. It's now been around for more than fifty years and shows no sign of abating.

 

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