Mule brings friends to the Ryman

Gov’t Mule w/ Donovan Frankenreiter

Ryman Auditorium

Nashville, TN

November 12, 2006


Gov’t Mule blows in to Nashville every fall for a show at The Ryman Auditorium.  It always proves to be one of the best shows the building sees all year, and the list of musicians waiting to pick up passes is almost as long as the fans.


Due to a box office snafu, I missed the highly anticipated Donovan Frankenreiter set with the exception of the very last song.  However, the whole set sounded wonderful from the lobby of the mother church.  Despite the bad fortune of missing Donovan, the night still looked promising because there were two sets of Gov’t Mule on the way.


“John the Revelator” is always a fabulous start to a Mule show.  Danny Louis strutted his multi-instrumental prowess with flawless trumpet work to accompany Warren Haynes’s fiery vocals.  “Time to Confess” followed suit with tenacity.  Matt Abts and Andy Hess were driving the ship with hard edgy drums and thundering bass.  The perfect acoustics of the auditorium had the stained glass shaking and the wooden pews on the verge of splintering. 


Throughout the whole first set the band played with an edgy attitude, destroying “Mr. High and Mighty” and “Bad Little Doggie” with a massive wall of sound.  Segueing into “Lola Leave Your Light On,” they continued to offer up massive amounts of crunchy, fist pumping rock and roll.  Before taking a small set break they offered up “Brand New Angel,” another immense track from the new album, High and Mighty.


As sure as there will be a second set, so shall there be friends when Gov’t Mule plays in town.  Sometimes a cast of many, and on some occasions only one or two.  Jack Pearson seems to be one that is always invited out.  The former Allman Brother took Warren’s place after he left to pursue Gov’t Mule full-time.  The two guitarists alone make the skies cry out, and together they are capable of stratospheric levels of play.  Jack joined in on “Soulshine”, a song that has a special significance to Warren and his Nashville family, in particular Allen Woody’s father (who resides in Nashville and is present at most of the bands Nashville shows).  Staying onboard for “Sco-Mule” Jack and Andy Hess found the groove, and let loose some pure unadulterated funk.   


Matt Abts may be one of the most talented drummers around.  During a lengthy drum solo he attacked his kit.  He played with mallets and bare hands, at times it looked like a couple of extra limbs; Abts was eventually rejoined by the band for a spectacular rendition of “Presence of the Lord”.  They then offered up a few more from the new release, “Streamlined Woman” and “Unring the Bell.”  “Unring the Bell” may be the most exciting track from the new album with its’ underlying rootsy reggae vibes and fat guitar tone.


To end in fine fashion the Mule invited out their new friends and tour mates Donovan Frankenreiter and keyboardist Eric Brigmond for a jazzed up “All Along the Watchtower.”  Though it could have gone on for a song or two longer, Gov’t Mule offered Nashville yet another fine performance.