01.05.15 Gov’t Mule is Moving Forward After a Very Emotional Year
It was a very emotional year for Gov't Mule's Warren Haynes. In 2014, not only was he celebrating the 20th anniversary of the band, but he bid farewell to the group which spawned Gov't Mule two decades ago, the Allman Brothers Band. The legendary Southern rock group, fronted by Gregg Allman, officially called it quits in late October after wrapping up its annual residency at the Beacon Theatre in New York.
"The whole year has been very emotional," says Haynes. "Especially with the Allman Brothers and those last six shows at the Beacon, which were obviously no exception. The shows were good, especially the closing night. That was quite outstanding and a very good example of what that band can do. I was very proud of all of us, individually and collectively. We rose to the occasion and made it not just a marathon night of music, but a very inspired night of music."
While the Allmans may now be history, Gov't Mule keeps chugging along. The band just wrapped one of its legendary New Year's Eve's shows at the Beacon by playing a set of AC/DC covers with guest vocalist Myles Kennedy.
The New Year's Eve and Halloween shows, in which Gov't Mule covers an entire album, a particular artist or band or focuses on specific genre or theme, have been a Mule tradition for nearly a decade. "It's almost like wearing a disguise two days a year," Haynes says. "We just choose music or a theme that we'd have fun doing and that's a nice challenge. There's a lot of preparation that goes into it. It's a challenge to make it different every year and do something fun that represents some varying degree of influence with our music and audience."
As part of the band's 20th anniversary celebration, it dug into the vaults and released some recordings of some of those special shows. Back on Record Store Day's Black Friday, in late November, the band released Stoned Side of the Mule: Volume 1, the band's set of Rolling Stones covers recorded on Halloween 2009 at the Tower Theatre in Philadelphia, featuring guests Jackie Greene and Steve Elson.
Last month, the band issued Dark Side of the Mule, a set of Pink Floyd covers recorded on Halloween 2008 at the Orpheum Theatre in Boston. And in March, Dub Side of the Mule, is due for release. The set of reggae covers, featuring special guest Toots Hibbert of Toots & the Maytals, was recorded on New Year's Eve 2006 at the Beacon Theatre. It features special guest appearances by Gregg Allman & Friends along with John Popper of Blues Traveler.
Perhaps the most anticipated Mule archive release is SCO-Mule, due on Jan. 27. It's the band's 1999 collaboration with legendary jazz guitarist John Scofield. The set also features Allen Woody, the late Allman Brothers bassist who formed Mule with drummer Matt Abts and Haynes back in 1994. Woody was found dead of a heroin overdose in August of 2000 in a Queens, New York motel room. In explaining the band's philosophy, Woody once said, "In so many ways, we rely on spontaneity and unpredictability: you can get electrocuted at any time."