Rock band Gov’t Mule set to take the stage at Deer Valley
Gov’t Mule and Magpie Salute will perform at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 31, at Deer Valley. Tickets range from $38 to $70. They can be purchased by visiting www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/1694561.
Allman Brothers Band guitarist Warren Haynes and late bassist Allen Woody, along with drummer Matt Abts formed the blues, rock and soul trio Gov’t Mule in 1994.
Abts marvels that the band, a quartet, that will play Friday, Aug. 31, at Deer Valley, is gearing up to celebrate its 25th anniversary next year.
“We walk around going, ‘Wow!’ All the time,” Abts said. “If you ask me the dream of every musician is to play music. There is also something to say about any long-term relationship, because there is so much to draw from as the years go by.”
Abts cited some of those elements as musical chemistry, the history of the music, the friendships he has with his bandmates and the tragedies that they have shared.
“It’s hard to imagine that Woody’s been gone for 18 years,” Abts said.
Still, Gov’t Mule made the decision to carry on. The group added keyboardist Danny Lewis 15 years ago, and bassist Jorgen Carlsson has been with the band for a little more than 10 years.
“When we started as a trio, we were eager for this to succeed one way or another,” Abts said. “It’s been so rewarding as time goes by to know that we have kept it together. And the new guys, who aren’t really new anymore, have given us some new life as well. The music seems unstoppable to me. It will keep going until we stop it.”
A year ago, Gov’t Mule released its 11th studio album, “Revolution Come… Revolution Go.”
“We started recording the record on (the 2016 presidential) election day,” Abts said with a laugh. “When we started it, we were in a good mood, and, now, well, you know.”
Gordie Johnson, who worked with the band in the past, produced the album.
“We had a great time recording the album with producer Gordie in Austin, Texas, which is a great place to record and eat food,” Abt said. “Gordie is one of those guys whom I really respect. That comes into play because we all really listen to his suggestions.”
Grammy-winning producer Don Was produced a couple of tracks, “Dreams & Songs” and “Pressure Under Fire,” according to Abts.
“I respect and look up to him, as well,” Abts said. “It was mind blowing to hang out with Don for three days and see what he’s all about.”
Working in the studio is routine for Abts and the band.
“We are all comfortable with ourselves, and when we go into the studio, it’s a concentrated effort,” he said. “I worked on and recorded my parts in two weeks.”
While Abts enjoys recording albums, he prefers playing live.
“There’s a spontaneity and the feeling of being in the moment that really appeals to me,” he said.
Part of the elation is fueled by playing different sets every night.
“Whenever we play a show, we look up the last time we played in that town on our computer database to see what we played,” Abts said. “We make sure we write a set that’s completely different. Our fan base expects this, and they love the unexpected and curveballs.”
Some of those curveballs include goof-ups, Abts guffawed.
“We have made monstrous mistakes on stage, and the audience goes along with us,” he said. “They like that because it shows we’re human and not machines.”
The live performances also gives Abts some space to improvise like his jazz idols – Elvin Jones and Tony Williams.
“Jazz has a lot of improvisation, and it’s like a conversation you hold with anybody,” he said. “It’s how you speak and the ebb and flow of the conversation itself.
“If you can reach that point where it’s all part of the band’s chemistry, it’s a great place to be, because you’re no longer playing parts,” Abts said. “You’re having a musical discussion and reacting to the others. And that’s very spiritual.”
Abts got into drumming because of Ringo Starr.
“I was one of the many people who saw The Beatles on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ in 1963,” he said. “The British Invasion started then and changed everything from black and white to color.”
Abts also basked in the psychedelic music of the late 1960s.
“That was a fertile time with the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream and Led Zeppelin,” he said. “This was before the business got involved with the music, and the music as free to go anywhere it wanted to go.”
These days when Abts and his Gov’t Mule bandmates aren’t touring or recording, they are thinking of other projects.
“One of those is a live DVD that we filmed earlier this year,” he said. “We’re getting that ready for release. I don’t know when, but we’re working on it. I’ve seen clips and I’m very excited for that.”
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
A Utah Symphony woodwind trio will perform an intimate Deer Valley Music Festival chamber concert Monday at Susan Swartz Studios.