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Gov't Mule
The Georgia Bootleg Box

Evil Teen

The cd booklet contains photos of a barely two-year-old Gov’t Mule with Warren Haynes, Allen Woody and Matt Abts looking like badasses who would be more likely to bust up a joint than to rock the house. On The Georgia Bootleg Box the trio does the latter for audiences in Athens, Atlanta and Macon; three complete shows on six CDs.

Because it’s so early in the band’s existence these April 1996 concerts have a lot of repeated material. That doesn’t matter so much when the members find new terrain to travel, especially on each night’s opening numbers, “Blind Man in the Dark” and “Mother Earth.” Other tracks such as “Going Out West” and “Birth of the Mule” mix ferocious force with nimble and tasteful interplay among the the threesome, while “Trane” not only transitions into jams on Mahavishnu Orchestra’s “Eternity’s Breath” and the Grateful Dead’s “St. Stephen” but gets better with each additional performance. Also, a great deal of history is caught on these tapes. Songs played here will eventually show up on the “Dose” and “Life Before Insanity” albums including “Thelonius Beck,” “Birth of the Mule” and “John the Revelator.” The encores receive an added boost when Derek Trucks and Tinsley Ellis make guest appearances.

Since the passing of Woody, the Mule has expanded its membership, instrumentation and sound but the group’s collective nod to rock, soul, reggae and jazz can be heard fully formed here. The members embodied the might of a power trio; an Americanized version steeped in this country’s roots music with an equal embrace of the blues-based rock from artists across the sea. Even at such an early period of their existence they went beyond their core musical foundation and spoke a musical language that excited themselves and produced immediately devoted fans. At that time both artist and audience were discovering the new territories being explored by bands that jammed. As these discs show, it felt so good.

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