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Published: 2013/01/01

Gov’t Mule Celebrates the Three Kings

Photo by Dino Perrucci

Gov’t Mule celebrated the music of The Three Kings—Freddie King, Albert King and BB King—at New York’s Beacon Theatre last night. With the exception of 2008, Mule has hosted their New Year’s show at the Beacon every year since 2002.

Kirk West, The Allman Brothers Band’s former “tour mystic” and a longtime member of the Gov’t Mule family, started the show with his traditional, spirited introduction for the group (he introduced them at their first show and at many events during the past 18 years). Gov’t Mule look the stage and kicked things off with “Bad Little Doggie,” a song that also opened classic New Year’s shows in 1999 and 2009.

Gov’t Mule’s second set paid tribute to The Three Kings. The group divided their set into three different sections, each of which honored a different King. The Chronic Horns, an ensemble featuring Buford O’Sullivan, Pam Fleming, Jenny Hill and Steve Elson, backed the members of Mule during the entire set. West, who is also an expert blues photographer and historian, introduced each of the three segments, which were loaded with cover debuts. However, Gov’t Mule has notable played Albert King’s “Born Under A Bad Sign.”

Midnight fell during Gov’t Mule’s tribute to BB King. After their New Year’s countdown, the group moved into a version of “When Love Comes To Town” featuring Warren Haynes Band singer/keyboardist Nigel Hall. At the end of their set, the members of Gov’t Mule invited Hall, Machan Taylor and Warren Haynes Band/Royal Family singer Alicia Shakur for a set-closing “Hummingbird.” The three singers were collectively known as The Ass-ets last night. Then, Hall moved downtown for his own show at the Blue Note.

Additional guests sat in with Gov’t Mule during their third set. After high-energy versions of “Thelonius Beck” and “Beautifully Broken,” Mule brought out the Chronic Horns, guitarist Oz Noy and longtime band harmonica collaborator Hook Herrera for “The Hunter and “How Many More Years.” The song also included a drum segment.

Gov’t Mule wrapped things up with a Three Kings medley during their encore. With the help of the Chronic Horns, the band offered a swirl of songs from all three Kings that began with Albert King’s “I’ll Play The Blues For You” and moved into BB King’s “The Thrill Is Gone,” Freddie King’s rendition of “Ain’t No Sunshine” and the end of “The Thrill Is Gone.”

Haynes will return to the Beacon in March with The Allman Brothers Band for their annual run of shows.

Here’s a look at last night’s setlist via

Monday, December 31, 2012, Beacon Theatre, New York, NY

Set I:

Bad Little Doggie with Kirk West Introduction
Left Coast Groovies
About To Rage
Streamline Woman
Endless Parade
Monkey Hill with She’s So Heavy ending
Brighter Days

Set II: Three Kings with Chronic Horns (Buford O’Sullivan, Pam Fleming, Jenny Hill & Steve Elson)

Freddie King

Kirk West Introduction
Pack It Up*
I Got The Same Old Blues*
Only Getting Second Best*
Texas Flyer*
She’s A Burglar*

Albert King

Kirk West Introduction
Blues Power*
Crosscut Saw*
Down Don’t Bother Me*
Born Under A Bad Sign

B.B. King

New Years Countdown >
When Love Comes To Town* with Nigel Hall
To Know You is to Love You*
How Blue Can You Get?*
I Got Some Help I Don’t Need*
Hummingbird* with The Ass-ets (Machan Taylor, Alicia Shakur & Nigel Hall)

Set III:
Thelonius Beck
Beautifully Broken
The Hunter > with Chronic Horns, Oz Noy & Hook Herrera
Drums >
How Many More Years with Chronic Horns, Oz Noy & Hook Herrera

Three Kings Medley: with Chronic Horns
I’ll Play The Blues For You* >
The Thrill Is Gone* >
Ain’t No Sunshine* >
The Thrill Is Gone

*First Time Played


There are 7 comments associated with this post

Strop Stabler January 1, 2013, 14:58:15

No King Diamond? Sheeya!

POPPA January 1, 2013, 15:54:56


Rose January 1, 2013, 16:04:56

A great show and what a wonderful way to bring in the New Year, with Gov’t Mule and my beloved Famuley. Dino, I didn’t even see you once last night! and still you got a great shot of Warren and Hook. Happy Mule Year to all.

Tom January 1, 2013, 16:38:22

What CAN’T Warren do?!?!? Wish I was there…

Giles January 1, 2013, 17:08:53

Fantastic Mule as always. so solid. The 3 kings are as deserving of a Mule tribute as any American masters could be, and Warren’s reverence for their innovations was present all night in his earth shattering playing. Mule’s ability to throw out these seamless sets with guests coming and going all night always amazes me on New Years, they truly define what makes a great band. Get behind the Mule if you want to get your fucking mind blown.

jshired@ January 2, 2013, 23:20:34

Warren and gov. Absolutely the highest level of musicians. Warren love for music and the soul he puts behind every word and note is astonishing

Pam Fleming January 3, 2013, 00:33:34

The Chronic Horns has a blast doing another New Year’s with The Mule! Lots of Love to all of you in 2013. -Pam (trumpet)

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