Gov’t Mule goves UVM a kick

It seemed like all of UVM was on Central campus on Saturday afternoon to not only celebrate the coming of summer but also to listen to and appreciate music. This year’s Springfest was jam-packed with jive, funk, and a lot of soul. The headliners, Gov’t Mule played a captivating show and left the audience hungry for more. The level of talent in this band is amazing. Warren Hayes, named one of the best guitar players ever by Rolling Stone Magazine, showed off his slide-guitar skills and rocked every one of those solo’s that the audience loved so much. I had the opportunity to interview Matt Abts, the drummer for the band and find out a little bit more him, his music, how Gov’t Mule came into being and where they’ve been since. Matt started playing music while living in Panama as a young teenager. His father was in the Army and he and his family moved every two years. His family eventually moved to the United States, and after graduating high school, Matt played in bar bands up and down the east coast. By moving the Florida, he was struck with good luck when he moved almost next door to Dicky Betts, a former member of The Allman Brothers. Matt said that after having a musical conversation with Betts, it turned out that he was looking for a drummer for his band and ended up playing with them for five years. During those five years, Matt met Warren Haynes while they were both playing on an album for the Dicky Betts Band called “Pattern Disruptive”. Warren went on to play with the reunited Allman Brothers where he met Allen Woody who would later become one of the legs of the tripod that was Gov’t Mule. The idea for the band was started while both Warren Haynes and Allen Woody were still a part of the re-formed, Allman Brothers. Whenever the Allman Brothers played in LA, (which is where Matt was living at the time), all three of them would get together for jam sessions, said Matt. I asked Matt how he felt when they decided to start the band. He said it was “exciting”, they wanted to see how far they could get with it. In 1994, Haynes and Woody decided to leave The Allman Brothers to focus their attention on Gov’t Mule. Matt said that his level of expectation for the band at that point was that, “Anything can happen”. Five years and four albums later, Allen Woody passed away suddenly. Matt and Warren decided to record two albums, “The Deep End” volumes 1 and 2, with all of Woody’s favorite bassists as guest artists as sort of a tribute. 2003 brought about the addition of two new members to the band: Bassist Andy Hess and keyboard player Danny Louis. I asked Matt why he and Warren decided to add a Keyboard player after so many years of being a power trio. “A trio is good,” he replied, “but it’s also limiting.” In 2004, Gov’t Mule released their first album as a new band, called “Deja Voodoo”. Gov’t Mule just started a new tour the second week of April and it has been going very well. Life on the road, he said “is an acquired taste but it’s part of our lives. It’s very hard work but the two hours on stage [at every show] make up for the bad things.” I asked what was coming up for Gov’t Mule. “We have eighteen new songs.” Said Matt. Eleven of which will be on their new album, “Mr. High and Mighty”, scheduled to come out in August. On Saturday, Gov’t Mule had hundreds of people dancing and singing along with them. Soulive got the crowd excited, Toots and the Maytals got the crowd on it’s feet but it was Gov’t Mule that kicked the celebration into gear. From watching the audience, their reaction to the band and their appreciation for their music, Gov’t Mule was communicating with their audience. It was as if they were telling them, with the lyrics to one of their most famous songs, “You gotta let your Soulshine, shine until the break of day.”