Dig Baton Rouge

The Mule is back

The rock’n’roll inferno continues to burn and Southern rock super group, Gov’t Mule, bears the torch. Following the release of their Blue Note Records debut, Shout!, the band is touring North America and will perform at the Varsity Theatre on Feb.13.

Gov’t Mule was formed in 1994 as a side project of The Allman Brothers Band, by guitarist Warren Haynes and bassist Allen Woody. Woody passed away in 2000 and Haynes is now accompanied by Matt Abts (percussion/vocals), Danny Louis (keyboard/guitar/trumpet/vocals), and Jorgen Carlsson on the bass.

Shout! is the group’s first release in four years. “This album puts a spotlight on the songs and the way that we interpret them, which hinges on the unique chemistry we’ve developed as a band,” Haynes explains.

Coming in the form of a double-disc set, Shout!’s second disc includes alternate vocal performances by Elvis Costello, Dr. John, Dave Matthews, Grace Potter, Steve Winwood and more.

“No one’s done this before, which is exciting,” Haynes remarked, “but it’s even more exciting actually listening to these artists sing our songs. Their performances bring new ideas, energy and sometimes even different meanings to every number.”

Blue Note Records president and Grammy award winning producer, Don Was, speaks out on Gov’t Mule’s place in contemporary music.

“The Mule holds a unique and lofty berth. They have roots that run real deep – drawing from the entire history of rock’n’roll going all the way back to Robert Johnson and the Delta. Yet, despite their mastery of past idioms, they have managed to rearrange those elements into a whole new thing. So while the music they make is quite contemporary, I dare say they have deeper roots than other bands that are creating new music.”

The idea of assembling a dream team of guest performers on the album was indirectly inspired by none other than Haynes’ friend Elvis Costello. The group’s vast range of influence combined with all-star guest performances allows for a colorful and organic finished product.

“Everyone in the band has such a wide variety of musical points of reference that a song can start in any style – from rock to blues to funk to R&B to Reggae – and end up going to a completely different place,” Haynes says.

“On Shout!, every performance of each song stands on its own, but always sounds likes us. Even if it’s a part of us that most people have never heard before.”

The Mule has become a staple act at music festivals across North America. Other than these festival appearances, the band was mostly on hiatus after 2010 while band members pursued other projects.

Gov’t Mule is back in action and touring all over the country. Next stop, Baton Rouge.

“There’s no way I could have anticipated the way we’d grow when we started,” Haynes remarks. “Everyone in Gov’t Mule brings their own personality to the music, and we’re always looking for opportunities to expand and excite ourselves.”

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