Warren Haynes discusses new Gov’t Mule album, coming Peach Fest performance
In a year marred by the deaths of two founding members of the Allman Brothers Band, the artist lineup for the annual Peach Music Festival, launched by the Southern rock fathers in 2012, will include friends, family members and alumni of the iconic band.
It seems only fitting that co-headlining one day of the four-day, roughly 55-act event — which takes place Aug. 10 through 13 at The Pavilion at Montage Mountain in Scranton — will be hard-charging blues-rock outfit Gov’t Mule, a quartet fronted by guitar titan and former long-tenured Allman Brothers Band member Warren Haynes.
Mule, which released its critically-acclaimed 10th studio album, “Revolution Come … Revolution Go,” on June 9, will perform a prime-time set on Aug. 12, an evening that also features a performance by Widespread Panic and an “all star” tribute to the recently departed Gregg Allman and Butch Trucks.
The record, which showcases political perspective and personal examination by songwriter Haynes, has been celebrated for singles like “Stone Cold Rage,” which alludes to the chasm that has split ideological factions in the U.S.
“The few political songs on this record were written from an observer’s standpoint,” Haynes said. “It’s mostly about the division going on in the country.”
The title track is a raucously funky anthem that highlights the lack of change enacted as presidential regimes turn over.
“It’s a tongue-in-cheek take on that,” Haynes said. “It feels like nothing’s really getting done.”
As a lyricist, Haynes has tackled the political arena since founding Gov’t Mule as a power trio with late bassist Allen Woody and drummer Matt Abts in 1994, when the Allman Brothers weren’t busy touring.
But for “Revolution Come … Revolution Go,” Haynes lent his pen to solutions as well as to problems. “Pressure Under Fire,” for example, is a call to unity.
“It’s kind of a ’60s mantra of everyone working together,” Haynes said. “I think it’s what is needed right now. It’s up to the people more than any other time in my lifetime to get involved and speak their minds.”
Diversifying subject matter, Haynes deals with self-scrutiny in the soulful “The Man I Want to Be,” and life on the road — a subject approached by such Americana legends as Willie Nelson and Jackson Brown — in the rootsy “Traveling Tune.”
“This record probably has more personal reflection and more personal relationship songs than anything else,” Haynes said. “In some ways, there’s the obvious: I’ve been doing this quite a while now. But also, Gov’t Mule just celebrated our 20th anniversary as a band. I’m looking back at the good and the bad over the previous 20 years, the ups and downs.”
The current Mule lineup has been in place for roughly a decade and is comprised of Haynes, Abts, multi-instrumentalist and longtime collaborator Danny Louis, and bassist Jorgen Carlsson.
“Every year you stay together is exponential in your overall growth and performance ability of the band,” Haynes said. “You tend to get better as time does on. Relationships and bonds and communication, musically speaking, gets better all the time. Even though we’ve been through a lot of changes, the chemistry of the band is better than it’s ever been.”
Mule’s Peach Festival set is billed as Gov’t Mule & Friends and will include, at least, revered jazz guitarist John Scofield. Without giving too much away, Haynes talked about planning the set.
“It’s still all being put together at this point,” he said. “It’s going to be a surprise, but also a surprise to us, because a lot of the last-minute spontaneity turns out to be part of what’s happening. We’ll make as many arrangements as we can, but there’ll be last-minute adjustments when we see who can do what. We have so many friends and musical family members who’ll be with us. We’re excited to see how it all shapes up.”
Enthusiastic for the musical family with whom he’ll reunite, Haynes reflected upon the musical family with whom he’s played his last sets.
“Losing Butch and Gregg so close together has been an enormous loss for all of us and the musical community as well,” Haynes said. “We were all very close friends who went around the world together and shared life together.”
At the time of Hayne’s conversation with the Weekender, the “all star” lineup for A Peach Tribute to Gregg Allman & Butch Trucks had not been announced.
“That’s still in the planning stages,” Haynes said. “I’m not sure what all that’s going to be, but I’m sure that it’s going to be wonderful.”
Last week, Live Nation announced that lineup will feature original Allman Brothers drummer Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson, Allman Brothers alumni Chuck Leavell, Oteil Burbridge, Marc Quinones and Jack Pearson, and a group of other accomplished musicians that includes family members to the honorees Devon Allman and Duane and Vaylor Trucks.
Haynes is not on the list that ends with “and more,” so any appearance in the tribute by the musical colleague and dear friend to Allman and Trucks will have to be another surprise.
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or on Twitter @TimesLeaderMatt.
IF YOU GO
What: The Peach Music Festival
Where: The Pavilion at Montage Mountain, 1000 Montage Mountain Road, Scranton
When: Aug. 10 to 13
Additional information: Single-day passes range from $60 to $75 depending on the day. Four-day general admission passes currently cost $135. For additional ticket packages and updates on ticket pricing as the event nears, visit thepeachmusicfestival.com.