All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Live Reviews

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Gov't Mule Marches On: Live in Hampton Beach, NH

Doug Collette By

Sign in to view read count
Gov't Mule
Casino Ballroom
Hampton Beach, New Hampshire
October 30th, 2009

Gov't Mule have long been savvy enough to invite like-minded artists on tour with them, ranging from Xavier Rudd to Back Door Slam to Robert Randolph. Few co-bills, however, have been so potent on paper as this 2009 fall jaunt with Jackie Greene. In Hampton Beach, the individual attractions were more successful collaboratively than playing on their own.

Jackie Greene commanded the stage with the Grateful Dead's Phil Lesh and Friends in 2007 and 2008, but took a more understated approach to his opening set in New Hampshire, perhaps too much so. Playing electric lead and rhythm guitar as well as piano and harp on some of his choicest recent material, Greene gave hint of his ample stage presence, but nevertheless sold himself a bit short to an audience ready to party on a Friday that happened to be Cabbage Night (some attendees came already costumed for Halloween).

The Beatles' "Taxman" and the Grateful Dead's "Deal," not surprisingly, got the the most spirited response, but Greene might have played more upbeat songs like his own "Like A Ball and Chain" or just re- sequenced what he played. Rather than start so slowly, with "Don't Let the Devil Take Your Mind" the melancholy "California" appearing at mid-point during his forty-five minutes on stage, he could have let it rock earlier and more often, if only to work the audience into a frenzy.

That's precisely what Californian Greene did when he appeared during Gov't Mule's set to offer harmonica on "32-20 Blues." Never at a loss for confidence—some might call it braggadocio—the slight, hirsute young man took advantage of his full-fledged solo (clearly audible, unlike much of his own set, where acoustics suffered from the physical layout of this venue) to go face to face with Mule bassist Jorgen Carlsson. The two of them dug their way into the familiar Bo Diddley beat that morphed, not surprisingly, into Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away," via the Grateful Dead arrangment. This interval proved at least as telling, if not more so, than the formal Mule encore on which Greene joined the quartet for The Beatles' "Don't Let Me Down" and the Dead's "Sugaree."

The ongoing attraction of Gov't Mule live is their unpredictable nature, much of which has to do with how carefully Warren Haynes, more clearly than ever the leader of the band these days, tailors the setlists to the venue and the audience. October 30th found selections from Mule's first studio album in three years, By A Thread, sprinkled throughout two lengthy sets highlighting the more elemental approach of the new material, at the same time addressing the party-minded, restless crowd.

"Broke Down on the Brazos," for instance, is a sparse rocker, which permitted Haynes and Carlsson to face off in front of drummer Matt Abts, almost to the exclusion of keyboardist/guitarist/vocalist Danny Louis (who forfeited his solos to the latter this particular evening). "Inside Outside Woman Blues" isn't quite a straight blues, given its nod to Hendrix during the second segment, but it is nevertheless without direct precedent in the Mule canon. "Frozen Fear" is likewise unusual for its compact pop-rock structure, but simply represented, in a slightly different form, a less open-ended approach than this band often takes in the live setting.

Teases of the Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black" and The Allman Brothers' "Blue Sky" aside, there were few segues and less collective improvisation than Gov't Mule often offers. Haynes had accurately discerned the attendees' limited attention span and adjusted accordingly. Heavy riffing predominated, in the form of "Brand New Angel"; and, as the first set closed, Jackie Greene came on stage with whole band, for a genuinely crowd-pleasing "That's What Love Will Make You Do."

Throughout the evening, the audience exhibited as much surprise as appreciation for Jorgen Carlsson's presence as an increasingly prominent member of The Mule. One year to the day since his debut on stage with the group, the comparatively youthful bassist's instrument(s) resounded throughout the Ballroom during solos like the one he took on Free's "Mr. Big." There's an edge in his playing increasingly inviting comparisons with original Mule member Allen Woody's, but Jorgen Carlsson is definitely his own man, as his inscrutable absorption in his playing belies its force.


Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read 2018 Hope College Jazz Organ Summit Live Reviews
2018 Hope College Jazz Organ Summit
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: March 23, 2018
Read Vlatko Stefanovski's performance at the Macedonian Philharmonic Orchestra's Concert Hall 2018 Live Reviews
Vlatko Stefanovski's performance at the Macedonian...
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: March 23, 2018
Read Noa Fort at Cornelia Street Café Live Reviews
Noa Fort at Cornelia Street Café
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 21, 2018
Read Cologne Open 2018 Live Reviews
Cologne Open 2018
by Henning Bolte
Published: March 21, 2018
Read Jon Faddis at The Wheel Live Reviews
Jon Faddis at The Wheel
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 20, 2018
Read Dixie Dregs at Lincoln Theatre Live Reviews
Dixie Dregs at Lincoln Theatre
by Eric Thiessen
Published: March 18, 2018
Read "Arturo Sandoval at the Blue Note" Live Reviews Arturo Sandoval at the Blue Note
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: October 30, 2017
Read "Stick Men at Havana" Live Reviews Stick Men at Havana
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 25, 2017
Read "Mindi Abair at The Empress Theatre" Live Reviews Mindi Abair at The Empress Theatre
by Walter Atkins
Published: December 8, 2017
Read "Earl Thomas At Biscuits & Blues" Live Reviews Earl Thomas At Biscuits & Blues
by Walter Atkins
Published: July 22, 2017
Read "38th Annual Detroit Jazz Festival" Live Reviews 38th Annual Detroit Jazz Festival
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: September 15, 2017