Gov’t Mule Plays Thundering Set in Lincoln

Gov’t Mule
The Venue at Thunder Valley
February 15, 2024

Photos by Paul Piazza.

Gov’t Mule performed at The Venue at Thunder Valley Casino in Lincoln recently. The legendary, incendiary jam quartet (they originally began as a trio in 1994), who are led by guitar maestro Warren Haynes, were celebrating their 30th anniversary in front of an eager Friday night crowd at the barely one year old venue outside of Sacramento.

Warren Haynes

Danny Louis, who has been there on keyboards for 22 years was present, but drummer founding Matt Abts was missing due to  illness. Filling his place on this night was the ageless Johnny Molo (Phil Lesh and Friends, Bruce Hornsby, Moonalice) and he was absolutely phenomenal on drums.

Last year, the band were joined by the amazing bassist Kevin Scott (Colonel Bruce Hampton, Wayne Krantz). He merged with the group following the departure of long-tenured bassist Jorgen Carlsson, who decided to call it quits.

Kevin Scott

So. What we saw was a four-piece that not only jelled before our eyes, but suddenly was a volcanic force of musical mastery and powerful hypnotic love. All of it was unleashed upon the Friday night crowd in Lincoln. And they revelled in it!

Naturally, this wasn’t a surprise to the longtime Mule fans in attendance, who have come to expect nothing but the very best from this band. There were brilliant interpretations of the American songbook, some galloping Mule standards, and a surprise sit in at the end.

Warren Haynes

Earlier in the evening, Gov’t Mule had touched on some of their cornerstones like “Banks of the Deep End” and “Sco Mule,” as well as the “Allman Brothers 1994 classic “Soulshine,” which is a song written by Haynes. The guitarist spent over 20 years in two different stints with the Allman Brothers.

They had also covered beautiful standard like Allen Toussaint’s “Get Out of My Life, Woman,” Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind” and “Turn On Your Love Light” by Bobby Blue Bland. That’s just a small sampling of the many beautiful covers the band chose to interpret on this evening. They have mastered that aspect of the craft in many forms and always manage to turn it into their own.

Lukas Nelson

As the night wound down, the group were joined onstage by Lukas Nelson (son of Willie), who opened with a great set with his band Promise of the Real. They paired on a couple of stellar covers to close the show. With Nelson, they played “Almost Cut My Hair” by Crosby, Stills Nash & Young, a song which many feel best captured the essence of the counter culture movement  and the epic “Cortez the Killer” by Neil Young and Crazy Horse. The latter plowed deep into the heart of the darkest heart of colonialism. Powerful and moving both. People were talking about this for days to come.

Lukas Nelson

Nelson and his band Promise of the Real opened the show. The quintet played a solid one hour set that mostly focused on Nelson’s excellent work with Promise of the Real and also featured a couple of his father’s compelling standards. These were “Every Time He Drinks He Thinks of Her” and “Bloody Mary Morning.” Nelson who floored a worldwide audience playing a stunningly beautiful version of his father’s “Angels Flying Too Close to the Ground” at the big guy’s 90th birthday concert, has continued to grow as an artist and this night only took that notion further into the stratosphere. His own “Find Yourself” and “Just Outside of Austin” underscored that in a big way on this night.


Gov’t Mule

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real