Gov't Mule: Side Project Turned Huge Success


In 1989, the Allman Brothers Band reformed because of the success of their Dreams box set. With the addition of Warren Haynes as the permanent lead guitarist and vocalist and Allen Woody as a bass guitarist to the Allman Brothers, a new bond was formed. During the Allman Brothers breaks, Haynes, Woody, and a drummer Matt Abs came together as Gov’t Mule. By 1995, the band released their self titled debut album, Gov’t Mule. The Album was produced by Michale Barbiero. On New Year’s Eve in 1995, the band played Roseland Ballroom. They opened for Blues Traveler. They recorded their set and later released Live from Roseland Ballroom in October of 1996.

Eventually, The Allman Brothers were not producing and releasing new material. This led to Woody and Haynes leaving the band to shift their attention to Gov’t Mule full time. By early 1998, Gov’t Mule released their second album Dose. They were joined by several members from other successful bands like The Black Crowes, Parliament, The Derek Trucks Band, and even members from The Allman Brothers for their New Year’s Eve concert that was later released as Live… With A Little Help From Our Friends. The performances showed the bands’ influences when they covered songs from major bands like Jimi Hendrix, Humble Pie, Black Sabbath, and Neil Young. This was released in March of 1999.

Within the next year, the band was back in the studio recording their next album, Life Before Insanity. This album was released in February of 1999 and although the band had already experienced some previous success, they wanted more commercial success with their third studio album. Then darkness struck the band when one of the founding members, Allen Woody was found dead in New York City on August 26 of the same year. By September 21st, the band had already organized and created a benefit concert for Woody’s daughter, Samantha Woody. The Allman Brothers. Phill Lesh and Friends, Jimmy Herring, Edwin McCain, and The Black Crowes were just a few of the supporting acts that performed at the concert. Through the fall of 2000, Haynes and Abts continued to open for Ben Harper and The Innocent Criminals. Their subsequent "Smile at Half Mast Tour" that followed was named in reference to a poem Haynes wrote for Woody's funeral.

At the benefit show and after at some of the other shows, Haynes decided to appear with The Allman Brothers Band again. With Dickey Betts' departure from the Allmans, Haynes came back full-time to the band at the beginning of 2001 and has continued splitting his time between the Allman Brothers and Gov’t Mule.

The following year, Haynes, Abts, and Barbiero began recording a tribute album for Woody. This album included some of Woody’s favorite bass players. Some of the bassists featured included Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jake Bruce formerly from Cream, John Entwistle of The Who, Mike Watt of Minute Men, Les Claypool of Primus, Chris Squire of Yes, Stefan Lessard of Dave Matthews Band and others. The sessions in the studio resulted in two records The Deep End, Volume 1 which was released in 2001 and The Deep End, Volume 2, released in 2002. A documentary was also filmed of the recording sessions who was made by Mike Gordon, the Phish bassist, and entitled the documentary Rising Low. After a while of having different keyboardists and bassists fulfill their touring engagements in support of their album, they eventually had to fill the the spot of the wonderful Allen Woody. That is where Danny Louis for keyboard and Andy Hess for bass came in to play, they were eventually permanent members of Gov’t Mule after filling in at different shows.

Between the years of 2004 and 2008, the band released five studio albums, three of which had some charting success. These albums included Déjà Voodoo, Mo’ Voodoo (EP), High And Mighty, Mighty High, and Holy Haunted House. Two of which were released independently, and the others were released on the label ATO. With their first release with the new band, Deja Voodoo actually won the Jammy Award for Best Album and was the last studio album that Michael Barbiero as their producer and engineer. The band continues to tour and actually became a staple act at music festivals including, but not limited to Bonnaroo, Wakarusa, Mountain Jam, All Good and more.

In June of 2008, Gov’t Mule performed as a power trio for the first time since 2000 with their regular bassist Andy Hess. But, by September of 2008, Haynes wife actually announced that Andy Hess would be leaving the band and a new bassist would be in place for tour in the fall on her Sirius radio show. Jorgen Carlsson was the replacement and had already been rehearsing with them for a total of six months prior to the announcement.

From 2009 to 2019, they released a total of seven studio albums and three live albums. Seven of these albums charted and had some success commercially. With 23 albums and one certified gold, they may not have had a lot of commercial success, but the fans absolutely adored them!


Written by Brooklyn Beccue

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