Gov’t Mule brings new tunes to Harrah’s
Ryan Summerlin November 4, 2013
If you go
What: Gov’t Mule
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2
Where: Harrah’s Lake Tahoe
Tickets: $36.30 plus fees
A Saturday performance by longtime rockers Gov’t Mule will find the band riding high.
The group is back on the road following a yearlong break, is promoting its new album “Shout!” and finding a fun challenge in its live performances, according to guitarist and singer Warren Haynes.
“We’re at a really good place,” Haynes said during a Tuesday phone interview in between rehearsals in L.A.
“Shout!,” a double album and Gov’t Mule’s first studio record since 2009’s “By a Thread,” was released Sept. 24.
Audiences on the West Coast leg of the “Shout!’ tour have received the new songs well, Haynes said, even if it is hard to predict what tracks the band will play on any given night.
The band has only repeated three songs in the past four nights, Haynes said.
“We really like playing a different set list every night,” said Haynes, who is also a longtime member of the Allman Brothers Band.
“Shout!” is the most comprehensive look at the eclectic band and is a collection the group probably couldn’t have pulled off earlier in its nearly 20-year career, Haynes said. He said Gov’t Mule has come full circle in a lot of ways and has found a great chemistry.
“The inventive and incendiary musical performances throughout both discs spring from the jazz-like philosophy and creative language the Mule’s members have developed together,” according to a press released announcing the album’s release. “They’re the rare rock ‘n’ roll group with an improvisational heartbeat, which allows all four musicians to expand on the songs’ themes in non-formulaic ways. That quality distinguishes the finest jazz, blues and rock recordings of the ‘50s and ‘60s, but is largely absent in modern music.”
“The Mule holds a unique and lofty berth,” added Blue Note Records President Don Was in the release. “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.”
All of the band’s wide-ranging influences can all be found on “Shout!”: From rockers like “World Boss,” to the reggae-infused “Scared to Live,” to the Americana of “Forsaken Savior,” to the psychedelic “When the World Gets Small” and the garage rock of “Funny Little Tragedy,” Haynes said.
The album includes a second disc with Elvis Costello, Dr. John, Ben Harper, Toots Hibbert, Glenn Hughes, Jim James, Myles Kennedy, Dave Matthews, Grace Potter and Steve Winwood delivering alternate vocal performances of the new Gov’t Mule songs. The concept developed organically after a few of the artists were invited to perform guest vocals on a couple tracks, but their talents deserved a bigger stage, Haynes said.
“I know it’s cliché, but I love every guest performance on the album,” Haynes said. “Each took it to their own place, which we were encouraging.”
Hearing Gov’t Mule songs reinterpreted by other artists may influence Haynes songwriting. It will definitely influence how the songs are played live, Haynes said.
In addition to getting to hear younger artists’ take on Gov’t Mule on the second disc, it was inspirational for Haynes to hear artists he grew up listening to, like former Deep Purple bassist Glenn Hughes, sing his songs.
“It’s really a special feeling, as a singer and songwriter, to hear someone you grew up listening to interpreting your music,” Haynes said.