Gov’t Mule Lets Their “Soulshine” at the Fillmore
Legendary Band Stops in Charlotte on Their 2019 Summer Tour
Legendary rockers Gov’t Mule are having one of the busiest summers of their career. In the midst of their 2019 Summer Tour, the band just released a live album Bring On The Music-Live at the Capitol Theatre on June 28th which was recorded back in April of 2018 at the Port Chester, NY venue. Following up the record in a few weeks will be a live concert film which was put together by world-renowned film-maker and photographer Danny Clinch. The band first got its start back in 1994 when guitarist and vocalist Warren Haynes and then bassist Allen Woody formed Gov’t Mule as a side project while playing in the Allman Brothers Band as a way of sharing their love of sixties power trios like Cream and Mountain. Drummer Matt Abts, who had played with Haynes in Dickey Betts’ band, came on board and their self-titled debut was released in 1995 to much critical acclaim.
When it became clear that no new music would be forthcoming from the Allman Brothers band, Haynes and Woody left in 1997 to concentrate all their efforts on Gov’t Mule. After the death of Allen Woody in 2000, the band continued on with a string of different bass players before Andy Hess who was with the band from 2003-2008 and current bassist Jorgen Carlsson who has been handling bass since 2008. OK, so that’s enough of a history lesson for now. The band is known for their live performances and this past Friday night they brought a spectacle of sound and light to the Queen City playing to a packed house at the Fillmore.
I arrived early enough to just barely beat the thunderstorm that was bearing down on the city and was grateful for the cool, air-conditioned environment of the Fillmore. Since I had some time before the opening band took the stage, I made my way around the venue, stopping to check out the merch tables in the back and chatting with fans and other like-minded lovers of music.
Soon it was time for The Record Company to hit the stage and kick off the evening. This was my first time seeing them live and by the end of the first song, I was duly impressed by both their sound and stage presence. Led by vocalist and guitarist Chris Vos, the band is a great blend of blues, classic rock, and punk. Bass guitarist Alex Stiff and drummer Marc Cazorla provided an ultra-tight rhythm section that was a perfect match for the riffs of Vos. The Record Company first started by hanging up mics and doing live recordings in Stiff’s living room and they still have that raw, unadulterated feel to them.
They put in a more than a solid set that had everyone on their feet and raring to go with Vos grabbing a blues harp at times and doing jumps that would put a young, metal band to shame. If you haven’t check these guys out yet, do so now. This is a band that plays quality, timeless rock with songs that are catchy and grab your attention.
During the short break before the main event, I had some more time to chat with people and hear their stories about the band and how they became fans. It was then that I quickly discovered that Gov’t Mule, known to fans simply as Mule, fostered a real sense of community among their fanbase. Much like the Grateful Dead back in the sixties and seventies, fans were following the Mule from city to city and town to town along the tour.
I ran into people that saw the band the night before in Asheville and who would be making the trip to Greensboro as well Charlottesville, Virginia. It was a very cool experience to be able to see how important the band was to these fans and it very much changed my perspective on things in a good way. Of course, we were all here for the music and when the lights in the venue went dark, the room exploded with shouts of “Mule! Mule!” and a sense of relief that very soon all their troubles would be washed away at least for a few hours as everyone gathered together in celebration. Gov’t Mule played two full sets with a short break in between and their set was truly a great mix of original songs, covers, and extended jams.
Guitarist and vocalist Warren Haynes is a true icon and when he picked up his Gibson and strapped it on, you just knew magic was about to happen. It was wonderful to see how much Haynes still enjoyed playing for his fans. There was a gentleman pushed up against the barricade screaming Warren’s name and telling him that he was at the previous night’s show in Asheville to which Haynes pointed right at him and gave him the all-important nod of appreciation. Haynes was as always mind-blowing and amazing and at times he would close his eyes, losing himself in the moment and the music.
Drummer Matt Abts and bassist Jorgen Carlsson kept the pace while keyboardist and guitarist Danny Louis added an extra dimension of sound to the evening’s mix.
A highlight of the first set was the cover of the Allman Brother’s Band’s “Soulshine” which had the venue dancing, swaying, and singing along. The second set took on more of a jam session feel with an ultra-cool cover of “Starship Trooper” by Yes taking things to an entirely new level. If two sets, were not enough to soothe your soul, Mule returned for an encore of the Tom Waits song “Get Behind the Mule” to round out a night of exceptional musicianship and outstanding performances.
It’s been twenty-five years since Gov’t Mule first hit the scene and they are showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. A live show is the best way to check them out as a Mule show is not just a concert but an experience. Check them out this summer when they hit up a city near you.Click here for upcoming shows and ticket information.