Gov't Mule | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Onetime Nashville session guitarist Warren Haynes played with Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers before joining the Allman Brothers Band itself upon its reunion in 1989. Once he was in, the faithful granted him favorable comparisons to founding member Duane Allman, but apparently it wasn't enough to fill someone else's shoes, no matter how big. While they were still in the group, Haynes and bassist Allen Woody formed Gov't Mule with former Betts drummer Matt Abts, and in 1997 they left the Allmans to concentrate on the trio full-time. On record, they're nothing special: they carry on the southern blues-rock tradition but they don't add much to it besides a heavy dose of Cream; the best thing on last year's Life Before Insanity was an uncredited instrumental bonus track where Haynes's slide playing evoked Elmore James. The live show, though, is a different story. On Haynes's own compositions and a wide catalog of covers (from Howlin' Wolf's "How Many More Years" to John Coltrane's "Afro Blue" to a slow-rolling treatment of the Beatles' "She Said, She Said"), the sheer physicality of his sound and the magisterial sweep of his leads and solos always leave me slack-jawed. The death last August of Woody stopped the band short for a while, but the forthcoming The Deep End Vol. 1 (unavailable at press time from ATO, the label started by Dave Matthews) gets around it via a rotating cast that includes Bootsy Collins, Flea, Mike Watt, Jack Bruce, John Entwistle, Larry Graham from Sly & the Family Stone, Roger Glover (on a cover of Deep Purple's "Maybe I'm a Leo"), and the Allmans' Oteil Burbridge, who's filling in for this tour. Saturday, September 29, 8 PM, the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield; 773-472-0449 or 312-559-1212.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Danny Clinch.

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