Gov’t Mule Team Up with G. Love & Special Sauce in Charlottesville

By Stu Kelly / October 2, 2023

Gov’t Mule, the venerable jam band led by the indomitable Warren Haynes, teamed up with Philadelphia-based trio G. Love & Special Sauce for a mesmerizing performance at the Ting Pavilion in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia this past Friday. The atmosphere was electric as the audience gathered in eager anticipation of a night filled with musical improvisation, timeless classics, and soulful rock ‘n’ roll. Gov’t Mule did not disappoint, delivering a captivating performance that pushed the boundaries of their already impressive catalog with plenty of surprise medleys and exciting covers. 

G. Love & Special Sauce kicked things off early with a rousing set to a plethora of enthusiastic fans who showed up early not to miss out. G. Love operates out of a musical melting pot that culls many different genres for inspiration. Most notably, G. Love credits Bob Dylan and John Hammond Jr., as well as the then-contemporary “old school” hip-hop sounds of Run-DMC, the Beastie Boys, and Philadelphia’s own Schoolly D, as musical influences. During the trio’s set, there were many fan favorites that found time to surface, including “Baby’s Got Sauce” and the penultimate “Cold Beverage,” but the highest moments of crowd participation came in the form of two surprise covers; Paul Simon‘s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” and the Grateful Dead‘s “Casey Jones.”

Gov’t Mule kicked off their set with “Bad Little Doggie,” setting the tone with its fiery guitar licks and the unmistakable growl of Warren Haynes’ vocals. “Bad Little Doggie” serves as the perfect opener, as the song fully encapsulates everything Gov’t Mule’s music is characterized by; extended improvisational jams, heavy guitar work, and a deep appreciation for classic rock and blues traditions. The band seamlessly transitioned into “Blind Man In The Dark,” unleashing a torrent of blues-infused energy that had the crowd grooving along.

One of the highlights of the night was the medley of “Lay Your Burden Down” and “Smokestack Lightning,” showcasing Gov’t Mule’s ability to weave classic blues into their own sonic tapestry with musical prowess. The transition from the soulful “Lay Your Burden Down” to the gritty “Smokestack Lightning” was a masterclass in musical storytelling, showcasing not only the band’s adept musical ability but also reaffirming that they can take the audience on a surprise musical meander at any given moment. 

“Traveling Tune” provided a moment of reflection and introspection before the band launched into “Larger Than Life,” where Warren Haynes’ searing guitar work reached transcendent heights. The crowd was treated to the ethereal “Dreaming Out Loud” before delving into the politically charged “Revolution Come, Revolution Go,” a song that took on a new resonance in the live setting. Kevin Scott joined Gov’t Mule earlier this year as their new bass player and he’s really found his footing working through their music. Scott boasts an impressive resume, having previously worked with Wayne Krantz and Jimmy Herring, to name a few. Scott is a true force of nature as a low-note engineer as he adds a unique flare and attitude to the band. 

The blues classic “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” was given a Gov’t Mule twist, with Haynes’ guitar solo captivating the audience. G. Love also returned to the stage to add his musical talents into the mix. The instrumental journey of “Trane” segued into Link Wray & The Wraymen‘s “Rumble” before a blistering cover of Sly & the Family Stone‘s “Sex Machine,” with a surprise detour into the iconic “St. Stephen Jam” from the Grateful Dead‘s repertoire, leaving Deadheads in the crowd ecstatic.

“The River Only Flows One Way” and “After The Storm” provided a moment of calm before Gov’t Mule launched into a powerful rendition of “Beautifully Broken,” complete with Tom Petty‘s “Breakdown” interlude. “I’m A Ram” had the crowd on their feet, moving to the irresistible rhythm.

A scorching version of Tom Waits‘ “Going Out West” brought a sense of swagger and defiance, and the soulful anthem “Soulshine” closed the main set with a communal spirit of unity and hope. “Soulshine” featured the trademark extended intro by Danny Louis on the keys before Haynes’ opening notes on the guitar came crashing down. Matt Abs was on fire all night behind the drum kit, as he always is. Abs is the unsung hero in the band who, night after night, proves how integral he is to Gov’t Mule’s unique sound. 

The encore was nothing short of spectacular. “30 Days In The Hole” led into a mesmerizing rendition of Humble Pie‘s “I Don’t Need No Doctor,” featuring a tantalizing “Mississippi Queen” tease, which had the audience in fits of excitement. The band returned to “I Don’t Need No Doctor” before bringing it full circle with “30 Days In The Hole,” leaving everyone in the venue on a high note. As the band put down their instruments, the opening notes of the Talking Heads‘ “(Nothing But) Flowers” came through the PA, putting an exclamation point on an incredible night of music. 

In conclusion, Gov’t Mule’s performance was a tour de force of musical prowess and improvisational genius. Warren Haynes and his bandmates took the audience on a sonic journey through blues, rock, and jam, proving once again why they are among the most revered acts in the live music scene. This was a concert experience that will be remembered and cherished by all who were fortunate enough to be in attendance. Gov’t Mule is a testament to the enduring power of live music and the boundless creativity of talented musicians.

Gov’t Mule Setlist: 

  • Bad Little Doggie
  • Blind Man In The Dark
  • Lay Your Burden Down > Smokestack Lightning > Lay Your Burden Down
  • Traveling Tune
  • Larger Than Life
  • Dreaming Out Loud
  • Revolution Come, Revolution Go
  • Good Morning Little Schoolgirl *
  • Trane > Rumble > Sex Machine > St. Stephen Jam
  • The River Only Flows One Way
  • After The Storm
  • Beautifully Broken > Breakdown > Beautifully Broken
  • I’m A Ram
  • Going Out West
  • Soulshine


  • 30 Days In The Hole > I Don’t Need No Doctor > Mississippi Queen tease > I Don’t Need No Doctor > 30 Days In The Hole

* w/ G. Love

About the author

Stu Kelly