Raising the bar on rock n roll | VailDaily.com

Raising the bar on rock n roll

Charlie OwenVail, CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily

Warren Haynes is about as old-school as they come. He hails from a time when rock stars earned their fame and reputation instead of relying on the Internet to do all the heavy lifting. One look at Haynes musical career reveals a man whos experienced the shifting tides of the industry and survived long enough to claim success. Having played guitar for The Allman Brothers Band, the remaining members of The Grateful Dead, started a solo career, a record label (Evil Teen) and now his own band, Govt Mule, Haynes knows a thing or two about longevity his career as an axe-master spans a quarter of a century. Many of todays aspiring rock stars may never have heard of him, despite Rolling Stone magazine naming him one of the greatest guitar players of all time. Hes humble and polite, two traits that most guitarists with his skill dont know the meaning of.Haynes is a classic-rock star in a modern world and hes OK with that. Thursday night, Govt Mule comes to Dobson Ice Arena as part of this years Spring Back To Vail festival. Now the band he started as a side-project while still playing with The Allman Brothers Band in 1994 is a full-fledged touring machine and has released a dozen albums. We kind of just took it one step at a time not knowing what to expect, you know. We definitely didnt have any expectations of it being around 15 years later, Haynes said.

Govt Mule is basically an improvisational hard-rock band. Haynes tried to model the bands sound after power-trios like Cream and Mountain while consciously following The Allman Brothers jam band approach to live playing. The result is a powerful arena-rock appeal with plenty of room for injected creativity. Drummer Matt Abt, keyboardist Danny Louis and bassist Andy Hess round out the bands current lineup and together Haynes said they tour 75 to 100 days out of the year in the states and abroad. With such a monumental career in the rock n roll racket, how does a musician whos seen and done it all keep improving his game?Well, I think the key for us is that were constantly trying to keep things fresh and keep moving into new directions, Haynes said. Haynes is big on learning as much as he can from his own musical idols. He makes no apologies when it comes to incorporating their sounds into Govt Mules something he said he and his bandmates do often without straying from Mules original formula. According to Haynes, expansion and experimentation with sound is the only way for bands to grow past imminent stagnation.Were lucky in the way that we get to explore all the different genres of music that we do and get away with it all under the heading of a rock n roll band, Haynes said.

Haynes doesnt want to be pigeonholed like so many other bands fare. To avoid it, they put out experimental albums, like their latest, Mighty High. Mighty High features reggae versions of classic Mule songs and features guests like Michael Franti and Willi Williams. But besides trying to remain unique in a field of clones, Haynes said that recognizing the roots of the music all musicians emulate, then competing with them, is an even harder task.People dont want to hear mediocre rock music. The bar is really high for rock bands, Haynes said. With legends like Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The Who and Pink Floyd still being looked up to as the standards, Haynes said its important for musicians to keep one foot in the past and one in the present.As a matter of survival bands must learn to excel in concert because the mutating music industry may not always be there for recordings and sales. That is why Govt Mules chances of remaining successful are very good, Haynes said live shows are what they do best.

Haynes also said there have been some good side-effects from the industrys changes. For one, thanks to the Internet musicians are now able to get their music into the hands of people who would otherwise never get a chance to hear it. Mediums like My Space and You Tube have helped people discover bands who only a couple of years ago would have been hopelessly trying to get a recording deal with some faceless label.Haynes possesses mountains of knowledge when it comes to all things music and it would do any musician some good to listen what he has to say.Few things surprise him after seeing so much, but one thing that still shocks him is how willing mainstream musical acts are to cut corners to find success rather than focusing on their art and keeping their integrity. Its so much more fulfilling to be good at your craft than it is to have 15 minutes of fame, Haynes said.And while many of todays pop stars may only have a few minutes left, Haynes said he has always prepared to be in it for the long haul. Now hes just happy to be a branch on the musical family tree that at one time he could only dream about. High Life writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 748-2939 or cowen@vaildaily.com.

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