Wednesday’s show at Sprint Pavilion gives Charlottesville fans a chance to wish Gov’t Mule a happy silver anniversary. It’s also a chance to celebrate a comprehensive new concert film and album package that honors the past but barrels toward the future.
“Bring on the Music — Live at the Capitol Theatre” was filmed live at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York, on April 28 and 28, 2018. The director is renowned photographer Danny Clinch. If you’re even a casual fan of rock and country music, you’ve been enjoying his images for years; in recent years, he also has been building a reputation as a film director.
Gov’t Mule’s new two-CD, two-DVD set was released June 28 in digital and vinyl formats, and the deluxe CD/DVD package and Blu-ray will come out July 19.
“It’s our first actual concert film,” guitarist Warren Haynes said. “We’ve had some concert DVDs in the past, and some say, ‘What’s the difference?’, and I say, ‘Danny Clinch.’
“He has done a lot of cool music films the past few years and has turned into the go-to guy everybody turns to and trusts.”
Part of the fun was deciding which songs to include. Selections reach back to 2000 with “Life Before Insanity,” the title track of Gov’t Mule’s album that year, and “Mr. Man” from 2004’s “Deja Voodoo.” The band’s most recent studio collection, “Revolution Come ... Revolution Go,” is well represented, too. Some staples from the band’s catalog are presented in fresh arrangements.
“We made sure we did something from each stage in our career,” Haynes said. “With two DVDs and two CDs, it’s five and a half hours.”
For Haynes, it’s time to look back in gratitude at the surprisingly satisfying path a simple side gig has taken over a quarter of a century.
“Since Gov’t Mule started as a side project to the Allman Brothers, we never expected to do a second album,” Haynes said. “It kind of built its own steam and became its own band. We continued to make the best decisions we could at the time.”
Haynes and bassist Allen Woody formed Gov’t Mule with drummer Matt Abts during a 1994 break from the Allman Brothers Band. Haynes called the band’s mission “selfishly making ourselves happy first — and like-minded people were drawn to it.”
Fans embraced the band’s blend of rock, blues, jazz and soul elements, and “Bring on the Music” includes songs from throughout the group’s history. It documents the band’s growth and depth over time as unexpected successes — and losses — shaped it.
“When Allen Woody passed away in 2000, we were immediately faced with the question of whether to go on,” Haynes said.
After losing Woody, Haynes and Abts performed with a who’s who of gifted bassist friends — John Entwistle, Bootsy Collins, Flea, Phil Lesh and Les Claypool, to name a few — before making the shift from trio to quartet, which opened appealing new musical possibilities in time to release “Deja Voodoo” in 2004.
The current lineup of Haynes, Abts, keyboardist Danny Louis and bassist Jorgen Carlsson has been in place since 2008. Carlsson “has an uncanny similarity to Allen Woody on the bass,” Haynes said. “Since Woody was such a huge part of the sound, it needs to stay that way. That element will always be there.”
Woody’s lasting presence is an uplifting one.
“He looms large in our daily life for a lot of reasons — one of which was he was one of the funniest people I’ve ever met,” Haynes said.
The current lineup has spent a decade making the most of a fruitful chemistry that thrives on collaborating and playing up each other’s strengths. Spend a little time with “Revolution Come ... Revolution Go” to get a feel for the band’s sense of ensemble — and with the new live recordings to sense its exquisite reactions to feedback from the audience.
“Since we kind of take a jazz approach to all our music, it relies on communication,” Haynes said. “Consequently, the audience is a part of that equation. They’re like the fifth member. I think a lot of them realize how important they are.”