Birth of the Mule in Memphis

Gov’t Mule with Eric Krasno Band
Minglewood Hall
Memphis, Tennessee
April 26, 2017
photos/words by Josh Mintz

Gov’t Mule has come a long way from its inception, the power trio brain-child of Warren Haynes and Allen Woody. While the band has long been a four-piece, the band that arrived in Memphis was every bit as down and dirty as the original trio.

The weather in Memphis was disgusting – thunderstorms and wind set the stage for a poorly-attended show, but the Bluff City showed up in force at Minglewood. With the Eric Krasno Band opening the show, it was sure to be an evening of unbelievable musicianship, and neither band disappointed.

Krasno’s band is a sheer powerhouse, and set the tone for the night. The guitarist, touring behind Blood from a Stone, is as good as they come. The band’s set was strong. “Jezebel” and “Curse Lifter,” both from the new album, were stand-out songs, but the real star was obviously Kraz’s guitar work. The Soulive/Lettuce guitar player really is as good as they come, and plays with both soul and precision, and the Memphis crowd ate it up.

Mule took the stage and Warren Haynes immediately showed why he is the total package. There are guitar players, and there are singers, and there are songwriters. Rare is it for one person to be all three, but Haynes is that guy. The first set laid the foundation for a stellar show. The band came out to a raucous version of “Slackjaw Jezebel” and never looked back.

Doing a good job of mixing up the setlist, they played a great “Lay Your Burden Down > Smokestack Lightning > Lay Your Burden Down,” and delved deep into their catalogue with “Left Coast Groovies.” Krasno came out to play an instrumental “Lively Up Yourself,” and the first set ended with a powerful “Thorazine Shuffle” with plenty of Matt Abts cowbell.

The second set was classic Mule. Jorgen Carlsson’s bass solo on “No Need To Suffer” was amazing – it was dirty, guttural bass. Woody would have been proud. “Frozen Fear” had Led Zeppelin’s “D’yer Mak’er” sandwiched in the middle, and then Krasno came back out for the highlight of the set, an absolutely blistering cover of Billy Cobham’s “Stratus.”

With Carlsson and Abts providing a beefy backbone, keyboard player Danny Louis set the stage with a great solo before Kraz and Haynes blew the roof off the place with their guitar work. It was a true musical masterpiece.

No Warren Haynes set would be complete without “Soulshine,” and the band brought almost all of Krasno’s band out to close the show with “Goin’ Out West.”

With a new record due out next month, it wouldn’t have been nuts for Mule to work some of the forth-coming tracks into the setlist, but they didn’t. Instead, they just delivered a show full of what their audience wanted to hear – classic tunes and sizzling guitar work. 

Gov’t Mule

Eric Krasno Band