Gov't Mule stomps back into spotlight

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Entertainment,Music,Nancy Dunham

When musician Warren Haynes -- of the Allman Brothers, Gov't Mule and Grateful Dead -- announced his short-term intention to move into solo work, Gov't Mule fans were upset.

It's not that anyone begrudged Haynes, consistently named one of the top 25 guitarists of all time by Rolling Stone magazine, his chance to pay tribute to the R&B artists that were his first musical love. It's just that since its 1994 formation, Gov't Mule has become a musical touchstone. But now, just as Haynes promised, Mule is back and kicking with a new release "The Georgia Bootleg Box."

"I was instantly taken with the visceral nature of the music along with the rawness of the way that it was captured," said Haynes of the set of recordings he recently rediscovered about 15 years after they were recorded. "This was at a time in our career when our repertoire was small but constantly growing, not unlike our fan base."

The release is the first in the "Bootleg Series." "The Georgia Bootleg Box" is a six-disc set capturing a 1996 three-night run recorded live in Georgia. The recordings feature the band's original trio: Haynes (vocals/guitar), Matt Abts (drums) and Allen Woody (bass) and guest appearances by a young Derek Trucks and Tinsley Ellis.

Onstage
Gov't Mule
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Fillmore Silver Spring, 8656 Colesville Road, Silver Spring
Info: $35; 301-960-9999; filmoresilverspring.com

To Haynes, the recordings underscore the band's deep ties with its home state.

"[Our] connection with the state of Georgia is a deep one," he said. "Our first rehearsals were at the one-time living quarters of the Allman Brothers Band known as the Big House in Macon, Ga. ... A lot of our growth as a band took place in front of Georgia audiences."

Although Haynes credits those early days with setting the band's foundation, he also said the recent years have been the best in its musical life. That's underscored when you consider the band not only performs completely different sets each night but keeps set lists for each city to ensure there are no repeats.

"The fact that I am able to bounce back and forth from one project to another keeps fresh energy all the time," said Haynes of the variety of his musical projects. "I actually welcome that challenge. Lots of musicians complain they have to play the same thing all the time. I don't have that complaint."

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Nancy Dunham

Examiner Correspondent
The Washington Examiner