Article and Photos by: Michael W. Bright
Louisville, KY- Following the sudden untimely passing of original Allman Brother Butch Trucks in January and the long-time-coming passing of Gregg Allman in May, Warren Haynes is as close to Southern Rock Royalty as we can come. Sunday night’s Gov’t Mule concert allowed Haynes to flash his bona fides then back it up with the kind of expressive, soulful, southern-style guitar playing and jamming that Brothers fans worshiped for 45 years.
There was something comfortable and deeply familiar about touring partner Blackberry Smoke’s opening 45 minute set besides the length of the hair and the smell in the air. Front man Charlie Starr’s moody slide guitar and lead vocals paired with the band’s keen harmonies reflected the best traditions of southern rock and prepped an older audience who’d dug out their faded Skynyrd tour t-shirts for this occasion.
Mule guitarist Haynes had spent the better part of the last 28 years playing guitar and touring with the Allman Brothers band, the boys who, most will agree, invented southern rock. With his band Gov’t Mule he can continue to carry the genre’s flag which dates back to 1969 give or take. His credentials are necessarily authentic, and his playing is an all consuming lifestyle.
A notable portion of the faithful stood throughout the show, hanging on the front of stage right, where Haynes spent most of the evening. If there remained any doubt about his mad skills on the shiney new red Telecaster, they were swept away by the familiar opening couplet of Jimi Hendrix’s, “If Six Was Nine,” and its following free-wheeling jam. The show continued in that same manner with the Mighty Mule barely stopping to take a breath, then leaving behind a memorable summer night.
Gov”t Mule’s tour resumes September 14th through October 14th, reconvening in Europe October 22nd. Their tour schedule is available at mule.net/upcoming-shows/.