Warren Haynes and Gov’t Mule play Friday in Vail
Rolling Stone calls Warren Haynes one of the 100 Best Guitarists of All Time.They’re correct, of course, and you’ll get to see why when he and Gov’t Mule play Friday night in the Gerald Ford Amphitheater.Haynes got to be one of the world’s top guitarists by playing all the time – with the Allman Brothers, the Grateful Dead and his own band Gov’t Mule – and pretty much any time he feels like it. The man loves to play.”I’m lucky to do what I love for a living. It doesn’t feel like work. It is, there’s work involved, but I’m enjoying almost every minute of it,” Haynes said during a recent phone interview.The band was in Denver Thursday, Vail tonight and at the Telluride Blues and Brews Festival on Saturday; then they’ll head for the West Coast.”That’ll be an action-packed week,” Haynes said.Haynes has been doing this more than 30 years. He started young, touring as a teenager, so he still has a lot of miles left in him. “It’s longer than it feels,” Haynes said from his hotel room between shows. “If you enjoy your work it doesn’t seem like work.”Haynes earned his reputation as a member of three of rock’s greatest live groups: The Allman Brothers Band, The Dead and his own Gov’t Mule.He toured with Gregg Allman between the time the Allman Brothers broke up, sued each other all over the judicial system, and reformed for the Allman Brothers 20th anniversary tour.”And here it is 24 years later,” Haynes said.The Grateful Dead asked him tour with them a few years back. When he’s not touring or recording with them, he’s on the road with Gov’t Mule.We caught up with him while he was taking four weeks off – sort of. He had a few shows tucked into the vacation; the man has no natural aptitude for leisure.They can go several nights without repeating songs, which is good for both the band and the audience because Gov’t Mule hasn’t taken a year off since 1994.”We talked about it, but it never seemed to work out,” Haynes said. About that nameHaynes tells it this way. In 1994 they were on tour and looking for the right name for their band. James Brown was playing a show in a town they’d played the night before, so a couple guys stuck around to watch the Hardest Working Man in Show Business work that crowd.During the show Brown was dancing with his wife and the guys noticed she was so generously endowed that she’d never have to worry about seat cushions, pointing out that she was endowed “like a government mule.””We need to name our band after James Brown’s wife big ass,” they told Haynes.So they did.Haynes says he can now tell the story because she died on the operating table during cosmetic surgery not long after that, and the Godfather of Soul has been gone for a few years now.”The ironic thing is that James Brown is one of my heroes,” Haynes said.’Real stories about everyday people’As a kid Haynes wanted to be a singer, and he wanted to sing soul music, he said.”My brothers and I had just a handful of albums, Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett, James Brown, the Temptations, Aretha Franklin. That led to the three kings of the blues: Freddie King, B.B. King and Albert King,” Haynes said.He heard B.B. King and Freddie King and realized you could sing and play, and he’s been doing both ever since.”In soul and blues, the vocal is really the centerpiece,” Haynes explained. “And it’s not about irony or smoke-and-mirrors. It’s about telling real stories about everyday people in an honest way. Honesty in music trumps everything else.”Haynes has a stack of Grammy wins and nominations, and stuck with the guitar. He’s ranked 23rd on Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.”Haynes recorded his first solo album in two decades, “Man In Motion.” It harks back to his earliest days on the road and in this business.”It’s a record I’ve been waiting a long, long time to make,” Haynes said.His list of credits read like a Who’s Who in the music industry.He has performed or cut tunes with a diverse array of musicians including Phil Lesh & Friends, James Hetfield, Bob Dylan, John Lee Hooker, Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, Dave Matthews, Kid Rock and most recently with his longtime hero B.B. King.Haynes has played New York City’s historic Beacon Theater nearly 300 times, more than any other artist. He has written dozens of songs for a wide array of artists including Garth Brooks, Gregg Allman, Phil Lesh, Little Milton, John Mayall, George Jones, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi and Buckwheat Zydeco.That doesn’t include the 25 songs he’s written for the Allman Brothers Band.Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.