By: Eddie Modzelewski
Warren Hayes, the leader of Gov’t Mule and the hardest working man in the music business, has just put out the conclusion to Gov’t Mule’s last two albums, The Deep End Volumes 1 and 2, calling it The Deepest End. Haynes, along with founding drummer Matt Abts, put out the double live CD and DVD of The Deepest End concert they played in New Orleans on May 3, 2003. During this historic concert, Gov’t Mule invited more than eight different bass players to perform with them during the night, along with many special guests.
The Deepest End is a wrapping up of their “experimental bass player” phase. In August of 2000, Allen Woody, the band’s founding bass player, sadly passed away. Gov’t Mule, not knowing where the future would take them without their bass player, decided to invite the best players they could find to work on their Deep End project. After three years of a rotating stage lineup, Haynes says he looks forward to having a permanent lineup once again. The Deepest End is a culmination of Gov’t Mule’s sad yet amazing musical experimentation from the last few years.
The Deepest End concert took place on May 3, during the New Orleans Jazz festival at the Saenger Theatre. The audience knew they were in for a good show, but none of them knew of how monumental this concert would be. Gov’t Mule opened up with their song, “Bad Little Doggie,” with Greg Rzab on bass. The first set included Mule classics such as “Blind Man in the Dark” and “John the Revelator.” Joining the Mule onstage during the first set was Dave Schools of Widespread Panic, Bela Fleck, Victor Wooten, George Porter Jr. of The Meters, and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Towards the end of their set, they started to play Prince’s, “When Doves Cry,” and then they went straight into their song “Beautifully Broken.” Gov’t Mule ended the first set with a blazing rendition of their song “Mule,” with Porter on bass.
To kick off the second set, the Mule opened up with “Banks of the Deep End” with Mike Gordon of Phish on bass. The second set only got better when Haynes brought out Jack Cassidy of Jefferson Airplane to play a rendition of Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile.” Later on, Conrad Lozano and David Hidalgo of Los Lobos came out to play a version of Cream’s “Politician.” Others who played along in that set included Sonny Landreth on slide guitar and Paul Jackson Jr. and Will Lee on bass. At the end of the second set, Warren Haynes bought out ex-Metallica bassist Jason Newsted to play two thunderous classic Black Sabbath tunes, “Sweet Leaf” and “War Pigs.”
When Gov’t Mule returned to the stage following a short break after the second set, they went on to play an encore that could have been a whole other set. They played an astonishing five- song encore which rocked the Saenger Theatre like it has never been rocked before. The first song of the encore was part one and two of “Greasy Granny’s Gopher Gravy,” with Les Claypool of Primus on bass. Les stayed onstage and performed the next song, “Drivin’ Rain,” with the Mule also.
Gov’t Mule then went on to play their award-winning song “Soulshine,” and then all by himself on guitar, Warren Haynes played the song “Wasted Time.” For the final song of the encore, Gov’t Mule chose to play “Thorazine Shuffle.” This was no ordinary “Thorazine Shuffle” though. They attempted to play the song with three bass players at the same time, including Porter, Newsted and Schools.
Warren Haynes told the crowd during the concert that this show was one of the most fun nights he has ever had playing music. It’s nice to see a band that has fun onstage and gets satisfaction out of seeing their fans with huge smiles on their faces, loving the music. Gov’t Mule is a people’s band, and I’m proud to say I’m one of their biggest fans.
Warren Haynes and Matt Abts are true, hardworking entertainers, and they deserve all the credit in the world for performing night in and night out for their loyal fans. Even though they will be hitting the road with a new permanent bassist, Allen Woody will always be a part of Gov’t Mule and he will always live on through the music of Gov’t Mule. Look for Gov’t Mule on tour this winter in the New York area.