The whole jam band scene, like jazz, can seem daunting and impenetrable to the novice. Full of sub-genres, rules, conventions, in-jokes and set lists that change nightly, once you’re in it can be a source of endless head-scratching bafflement and joy. Pretty much kickstarted by The Grateful Dead (who are still going strong as The Dead &Co.) it’s a thriving scene, full of many major players.

And right up there amongst the jam band royalty is Gov’t Mule, founded 25 years ago by the ever brilliant Warren Haynes. Haynes was originally recruited by Gregg Allman to help revive the fortunes of the ailing Allman Brothers Band and, along with Derek Trucks, formed one of the most formidable guitar front lines ever to grace a stage. Haynes also realised that bands like Cream and Humble Pie were becoming a neglected art form, so, with Matt Abts and Allen Woody, formed the Mule, with the express intention of playing hard driving, heavy jam music.

And that they still do, with as much fire, class and commitment as they did on day one. And that’s why we’re here, to celebrate those 25 years in the only way road dogs can, with a new live release. And what a release. ‘Bring On The Music’ is – 2 CD’s, 2 DVD’s, 2 separate shows. Recorded and filmed (beautifully) at the Capitol Theatre, New Jersey on April 27/28 2018 by renowned music director Danny Clinch (go to guy for Springsteen and Pearl Jam, among many others),it’s a looong, sumptuous feast.

The DVD is definitely constructed as a tribute to the band. Songs are interspersed with black and white interviews with the band, discussing their history, ideology and influences. The concert too, has a clear narrative, many of the songs chosen by Haynes seem to have an autobiographical feel.

We commence with ‘Traveling Tune’ the closest, Haynes admits, The Mule will ever come to sounding like the Allmans. It’s filmed intimately, the cameras up close and tight. There’s little in the way of production values, the stage is often shrouded in darkness, the lighting is minimal and the only concession to props are two large wooden mules a la the ‘Revolution Come…Revolution Go’ album cover. There are no pyros or runways – when you can play as well as Haynes and co. you don’t need them.

The band quickly pick up a head of steam, Haynes rocking out on a 12-string Gibson, exuding effortless Southern cool. The band watch him like hawks, scanning for cues while he peels off furious slide licks. The show ebbs and flows, chilling for an autobiographical tune before taking off again.

The second half of the show just keeps getting better, the band stretching out into serious Deadhead territory. Psychedelic noodling abounds as do multiple extended solos. The show opens up completely, getting darker, weirder, more intense. ‘Revolution Come…Revolution Go’ heads off into New Orleans territory, keyboardist Danny Louis even picking up a trombone!

‘Time To Confess’ collides rock and reggae, a thing not many bands can do convincingly. Haynes is flying now, making up the setlist as he goes. ‘Bring On The Music’ ties it all together. Every drop of emotion is wrung out of it as the band celebrate music, family, history, band and audience. ‘Traveling Tune’ returns and Haynes again pays tribute to Gregg Allman. You keep going, you overcome adversity…with music. We finish with more bruising Southern Rock, there’s an echo to Haynes vocals, as if he’s singing from some deep, dark hole. We’re dead a long time, best live it up while we’re here.

The audio show, too, is stunning. And very different. Only three songs are duplicated and this show seems to have less of an autobiographical edge. What it does have though, is balls, and grit. It’s a more straightforward rocking affair. The band play hard and fast, roaring into each jam like there’s no tomorrow. Oh, and Haynes voice also needs a mention – soulful, raw and bluesy, it just doesn’t get enough attention. One of the great Southern rock voices.

It’s a lean, muscular affair, the band excelling, locking in to murderous grooves. James Brown is momentarily summoned, as is Stax style funk rock. ‘Blind Man In The Dark’ is 11 minutes of total commitment, scorching the earth left in its wake. There’s blues aplenty and even, at one point, flamenco. There is the obligatory major jam – ‘Trane’ heading jazzily into ‘Eternity’s Breath’ before heading into Dead territory for ‘St.Stephen’ – 17 minutes of glory simply fly by.

So, yeah, less narrative, but hey, that’s ok, sometimes a world class jam rock gig is all you need. And no-one does it better. And then, several breathless hours later, it’s all over and the band themselves, they’ll barely look back. Off to the next gig to do it all again, but, y’know, totally differently.

This is a gorgeous, classy package and, for anyone who loves rock, Southern rock, improvisation and kick ass musicianship, it’s an absolute no-brainer. The Mule are underrated rock royalty, if you haven’t done so you need to check them out and there’s no better place to start than right here.

Review by Gary Cordwell

Released by Provogue Records on 28 June 2019


Track list:


  1. Hammer & Nails
  2. Thorazine Shuffle
  3. Larger Than Life
  4. Forsaken Saviour
  5. Broke Down On The Brazos
  6. Endless Parade
  7. Lola Leave Your Light On
  8. Blind Man In The Dark
  9. Raven Black Night


  1. Traveling Tune
  2. Stone Cold Rage
  3. Whisper In Your Soul
  4. Little Toy Brain
  5. Trane>Eternity’s Breath>St.Stephen (jam)
  6. Pressure Under Fire
  7. Fool’s Moon
  8. Revolution Come, Revolution Go
  9. Bring On The Music


  1. Intro
  2. Traveling Tune
  3. Railroad Boy
  4. Mule
  5. Beautifully Broken
  6. Drawn That Way
  7. The Man I Want To Be
  8. Funny Little Tragedy>Message In A Bottle>Funny Little Tragedy
  9. Far Away
  10. Sin’s A Good Man’s Brother
  11. Mr. Man


  1. Life Before Insanity
  2. Thorns Of Life
  3. Trane
  4. Revolution Come, Revolution Go
  5. No Need To Suffer
  6. Dreams & Songs
  7. Time To Confess
  8. Comeback
  9. World Boss
  10. Bring On The Music
  11. Traveling Tune
  12. Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground