Words by: Rich Lieberman :: Images by: Dino Perrucci
Gov't Mule :: 09.06.07 :: Rumsey Playfield :: New York, NY
New York's Central Park played host to a fantastic summer of great music. One of the most impressive schedules in recent memory delivered a diverse lineup from Levon Helm to the Beastie Boys. The lush confines of Rumsey Playfield offered up something for all musical tastes as many major acts that came through town made it a stop on their tour schedule. With so many great and historic venues and stages in New York City, there is something very special about performing and attending a show in the park as the sun drops beneath the treetops revealing the lights of the NYC skyline in the background.
| Warren Haynes - Gov't Mule|
09.06 :: NYC
As the summer came to a close, Gov't Mule headlined a hot triple bill for this year's version of "Rockin' the Burro" with the help NYC's own power trio Earl Greyhound and Vermont's soulful Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.
Gov't Mule has had a stellar year. They've picked up a lot of new fans with the release of their highly acclaimed studio effort High & Mighty, an extremely successful third annual Mountain Jam and an already legendary performance at this year's Bonnaroo. Gov't Mule continues to challenge themselves to deliver a fresh, dynamic live performance night after night - each show different from the last, an abundance of material to pull from, classic covers reworked and the prospect of special guests always looming. All this has contributed to the rise and success of the Mule. Their near constant worldwide tour schedule is exposing their sound to a broader audience all the time.
On this gorgeous evening, Rumsey Playfield opened its doors early for this mini Mule fest. The sun was bright but the hometown crowd thin when Earl Greyhound took the stage to offer up their brand of in-your-face rock & roll. The start time was a bit too early for those just getting off work, but necessary due to the 10 p.m. curfew imposed on live music in the park due to local noise ordinances. Earl Greyhound will rock you to your core with their melodious soul and brawny stage presence. I highly recommend checking out this trio and their new release Soft Targets.
Next, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals ripped through a tight and extremely soulful set. Potter fronts this band with her incredible voice and sassy, sexy stage presence. She did not disappoint this New York crowd. Sporting an eye-popping mini dress and leather boots, she hooked the audience from note one. Whether behind her Hammond B3 or out front abusing her Gibson Flying V guitar, Potter is a rock star. The Nocturnals lay down an organic, timeless brand of American rock & soul. They are Scott Tournet on guitar, Bryan Dondero on bass and Matt Burr on drums. The now full venue was up and dancing. They played a nice mix of material including crowd favorite "Stop the Bus," as well as new material off of the recently released This Is Somewhere, which marks the coming of age for this relentlessly touring act. This young band, led by the 24-year-old Potter, is fast making a name for themselves, and it's well deserved. On this evening, they laid the perfect groundwork for the main attraction. The crowd was now fully ready for some "Music for your Ass!"
| Grace Potter :: 09.06 :: NYC|
Last year, Gov't Mule hatched the idea of playing a summer outdoor show for its NYC hometown base, and named the show "Rockin the Burro." The inaugural show rocked the Borough of Brooklyn at the McCarren Pool. Wolfmother opened and it was a success. This year, they came back to Central Park where The Mule last played in 2003 with George Porter Jr. taking the bass duties and Robert Randolph opening the show. They returned to this stage four years later as a fearsome foursome with two studio albums under their belt and renewed vigor. Along with the legendary Warren Haynes, Gov't Mule consists of founding member Matt Abts on drums, Danny Louis on keys and Andy Hess on bass.
Warren Haynes, with his sweet but powerful voice, sang the first verse of "John the Revelator," a song penned in the 1930s by Blind Willie Johnson, a cappella. The band was locked in through the first part of the set, which included great versions of "Banks of the Deep End" and "Sco-Mule" before really taking off with the assistance of the talented background vocals of Machan and Elaine Caswell for a heartfelt, emotional version of "Million Miles from Yesterday." The lyrics are so very poignant, and with the added punch of the background vocals it took that musical emotion to another level.
| Gov't Mule :: 09.06 :: NYC|
Up next was a rollicking version the Steppenwolf classic "Don't Step on the Grass Sam." This song always 'ignites' the crowd. Haynes' guitar work was in top form as they launched into a great selection of songs from High & Mighty and a sprinkling of Mule classics. The new songs sound amazing live. After a killer drum solo by Abts, the band launched into scorching second half of the set with soaring guitar work on "Bad Little Doggie," which gave way to three fierce songs off High & Mighty before ending with "Blind Man in the Dark." Judging from the reaction of the capacity crowd, Gov't Mule had indeed "Rocked The Burro!"
With the curfew approaching, the band walked back on stage quickly with good friend and special guest Jimmy Vivino on guitar. Vivino played Central Park earlier this summer with Levon Helm's band and is guitarist for Late Night with Conan O'Brien and The Fab Faux. They had fun with the encore, playing a trifecta of impressive blues songs to close "Rockin the Burro II."
Gov't Mule continues to bring it up a notch each time I see them perform. Warren Haynes is still the hardest working man on the circuit, and the band and its management team keep finding new and innovative ways of keeping it fresh for their fans. Catch you on a NYC Burro next year!
09.06.07 :: Rumsey Playfield :: New York, NY
John The Revelator, Slackjaw Jezabel, Banks Of The Deep End, Sco-Mule, A Million Miles From Yesterday with Machan & Elaine Caswell, Don't Step On The Grass Sam, Slow Happy Boys, Brighter Days, Like Flies,Drums, Bad Little Doggie, Mr. High & Mighty, Brand New Angel, Unring The Bell with Machan & Elaine Caswell, Blind Man In The Dark.
Encore: 32/20 Blues, Come On Into My Kitchen, Gonna Send You Back To Georgia (all with Jimmy Vivino)
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