Being an alleged guitarist, I can’t help but wanting to pack up my axe forever and hide under a rock when I hear cat that can really play…like one Warren Haynes of Gov’t Mule.
Having spent over 30 years in Anaheim, California, I was lucky enough to regularly attend the NAMM convention (National Association of Music Merchants), which is an annual event that spans 4 days in the sprawling Anaheim Convention Center and the surrounding hotels, right across the street from Disneyland.
The musical instrument manufacturers tend to bring in top drawer, big name musicians and bands that use their particular products to perform, either in their booth or doing a full show at one of the hotel ballrooms. That’s where I first heard Gov’t Mule in the late-’90s and was floored by the technical ability, feel and touch of Warren Haynes. Oh…I know he was part of the post-Duane, Allman Brothers rotation of guitar players that included Les Dudek and most recently, Derek Trucks. Sure, he toured with The Dead. You don’t get gigs like that by being anything other than exceptional.
But I had no idea that the quality of music I would hear in that hotel by this relatively new band would be so compelling. Nor did I know that he was the writer of the classic Allman Brothers song “Soulshine.”
I was lucky enough to get a ticket for this ballroom show. What I didn’t know that I would be hearing a power trio. So, as they took the stage, I expected nothing less than a sonic assault and having the top of my head blown off. It was. But, this group also displayed the ability to bring things down to a whisper…where you could hear your own heart beating.
I walked out of that show in Anaheim stunned, shaken and a newly minted fan. (I should also mention that I didn’t pick up my guitar for a week or two. Why bother?).
Since then, the membership has changed, the trio became a quartet with the addition of a keyboardist and they have only gotten better. These are all world-class players, but like the best bands, the sum is greater than the individual parts.
The original drummer, Matt Abts is still pounding the skins, and although the original bassist, (and fellow Allman Brothers alumni), Allen Woody is gone, he is more than ably replaced by Jorgen Carlsson. Keyboardist/guitarist Danny Louis has been supplementing the Mule sound since 2002. And, of course, you get the virtuosity of Mr. Haynes, whose aggressive attack on his strings is coupled with the lightest of touches, when needed. Plus, he has one of the most soulful voices in rock music. A smooth, slight rasp that can mutate into a growl not unlike that of the late, great Gregg Allman. Having listened to Coast OBX’s entertainment guru, (and 99 Sound DJ), John T. Harper’s interview with Mr. Haynes, I was taken aback by Hayne’s lack of pretension and his articulateness.
Expect the band to play the best of their massive catalog, but be ready for a cover song or two, that are given “The Mule Treatment.”
What makes this show even better is that they are performing at the beautiful Roanoke Island Festival Park.
The band is touring in front of their upcoming CD/DVD release “Bring On the Music — Live t The Capitol Theater.”
So…if you’re a local music fan, or on the OBX for a vacation, or a day visitor from Hampton Roads, it would behoove you to get a ticket to hear a first rate Southern Rock band that can not only touch on the best that genre brings, but put it on a tee and kick it through the music goal posts.
I should mention the opening act “The Record Company.” I checked them out on YouTube. So have over a million and a half other viewers. I dig them. A funky little trio that can rock it.
The show is this Sunday, July 7, 2019. Doors open at 5 p.m. with the music starting at 6. Tickets are a bargain at $40 and can be purchased online at BeardedFP.com and Mule.net. Bring the family because kids 12 and under are free. Don’t wait…