published Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Gov’t Mule may be best side stage act of the Riverbend festival

Courtesy of Shore Fire Media 
Warren Haynes, head of his band Gov’t Mule, is also an active member of the Allman Brothers and plays with The (Grateful) Dead.
Courtesy of Shore Fire Media Warren Haynes, head of his band Gov’t Mule, is also an active member of the Allman Brothers and plays with The (Grateful) Dead.

IF YOU GO

What: Gov't Mule, featuring Warren Haynes.

When: 6:45-9 p.m. today.

Where: Bud Light Stage.

Admission: Riverbend pin or wristband.

After 25 years of shredding with some of rock's biggest names, Warren Haynes more than earned the title of "man in motion" long before using it as the name of his second solo album in 2011.

Haynes' first break came in 1980 when he served as a sideman for country legend David Allan Coe, but his incendiary touch on the six-string didn't stand in the spotlight until 1989 when he joined the ranks of the recently re-formed Allman Brothers Band.

Since then, he has been nearly continuously involved in projects. In addition to session work, Haynes remains an active member of the Allman Brothers and also plays with The (Grateful) Dead and at the head of his own band, Gov't Mule, which he founded in 1994 with bassist Allen Woody.

"I feel like, if I had to do one thing all the time, it would lead to burnout that much quicker," he said during a recent phone interview. "The fact that I'm able to do a lot of different things, I think, is what keeps me inspired and keeps me fresh.

"I've been lucky in that A) I've had a career that has spanned many genres, and B) I'm blessed with an audience who likes a lot of different stuff and is willing to go on a journey and see where it goes."

Tonight, Haynes will take the reins of Gov't Mule on the Bud Light Stage as a Riverbend dual headliner alongside Coke Stage artist The Happy Together Tour.

Haynes said he first felt inspired by music when, at age 6, recordings by James Brown, Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin raised the hair on his arms.

At age 12, he received his first guitar and began devouring music by Johnny Winter, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and the three blues Kings -- B.B., Albert and Freddie. As a result, he developed a fiercely soulful style that saw him into the No. 23 spot on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists.

Despite his love of the instrument, however, Haynes said he has always had a lifelong appreciation of songwriting, courtesy of an early love of poetry that developed into a deep respect for lyrics through Bob Dylan and James Taylor.

He said that abiding attraction to honest, message-driven songs continues to influence his work, whether in his solo career or in any of his numerous side projects.

"It started becoming important to me to pair my music up with lyrics that I felt had some sort of meaning," he said. "And that's the hardest thing about songwriting, I think: To create a song where the music evokes a mood, the lyric also evokes a mood, but they're meant to be together.

"That's something I've always been fascinated with."

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, young adults, technology and people of interest. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German. He previously worked as the features editor for Sidelines at Middle Tennessee State University. Casey received the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists Award of Excellence for Reviewing/Criticism in ...

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