Gov’t Mule, Nikki Lane @ The Pub Station Ballroom
Gov’t Mule, Nikki Lane
Wednesday, August 21, 2019
Pub Station Ballroom (2502 First Avenue North, Billings, MT 59101)
General Admission /All Ages
7PM Doors/8PM Show
$39.50 Advance/Day of Show
Tickets on sale Friday, 6/21 at 10AM
Ticket price does not include Ticketfly service fee(s). Service fees(s) vary by purchase method and are applied at checkout.
Rock ’n’ roll music has always been a reflection of the times, and the new Gov’t Mule album, Revolution Come… Revolution Go, is no exception.
With Revolution Come… Revolution Go, to be released June 9th on Fantasy Records, the band again sets the tone for their legacy with its cleverly-crafted songs, intelligent lyrical commentary, and downright incendiary playing. It’s those traditions, combined with an observant eye on the present, that define their tenth full-length studio effort.
“It was very poignant that we went into the studio in Austin, Texas, to begin recording on Election Day,” Grammy Award-winning vocalist and guitar legend Warren Haynes recalls of the November 2016 recording sessions. “Like most people, we really had no idea that the election was going to turn out the way it did. That changed everything – from a lyrical perspective. It’s not a political record, per se, but there are political connotations. There are also love songs, relationship songs, and songs about working together to make this a better planet. It covers a lot of ground, but it definitely starts and ends as a rock ’n’ roll record. It’s all within the realm of what we do, but it explores a lot of territory and, in some cases, territory we’ve never explored before.”
Steeped in the roots and mystique of rock, blues, soul, and jazz, the quartet — Haynes, Matt Abts [drums], Danny Louis [keyboards, guitar, and backing vocals], and Jorgen Carlsson [bass] — is equally recognized for its stirring songwriting and storytelling as it is for the improvisational virtuosity that fuels their countless live performances. Their music has galvanized a fan base of millions around the world, reaching a place of preeminence as one of the most timeless, revered and active bands in the world whose spot amongst rock titans remains unshakable.
This record threads together moments of soul, country, and tried-and-true virtuosic, vibrant, and vital rock. A patchwork of styles, it proudly ushers along Gov’t Mule’s next phase.
“One of our missions has always been to stay together as a band long enough to bring all of these different influences to the surface,” Haynes goes on. “Blues, funk, and soul are a part of what we do. In the late ’60s and early ’70s, the umbrella of rock music had room for so many different stylistic approaches – bands that were worlds apart were still considered ‘rock’ bands. We’ve always taken a cue from that. And although I’ve said it previously about other Gov’t Mule releases, this is probably the most diverse record we’ve ever made. That’s really important to us.”
The first of two lead singles, the soulful “Sarah, Surrender,” sees Haynes’ simmering vocal delivery take center stage over a groove punctuated by congas, organ, a female back-up chorus, and jazz-y guitar licks. Evoking Curtis Mayfield and Al Green, it illuminates yet another musical facet of the band.
“‘Sarah, Surrender’ was the last song written for the project,” Haynes explains, “and was recorded in New York City in January , after the Austin sessions were done. It seemed like the missing piece to the puzzle.”
Meanwhile, the other lead single, “Stone Cold Rage,” packs a walloping punch. An ominous riff gives way to furiously funky wah-pedal cries as Haynes screams, “Mama’s gonna be a martyr.”
“‘Stone Cold Rage’ represents the divide that’s going on in our country right now,” Haynes points out about the song. “Even though it was written before the election, it was written knowing that whichever way the results went, we were going to have close to fifty percent of the nation very angry. Musically, it’s an aggressive up-tempo rock song that reflects the anger of the lyrics, but with a sense of sarcasm and humor.”
Whether it’s the rustic steel guitar of the countrified road song “Traveling Tune” or the dark twists and turns of the nearly nine-minute “Thorns Of Life,” each moment of the album comprises an unpredictable journey that somehow adds to the overall flow. Says Haynes, “We still believe in the concept of an ‘album’ having its own collective personality.”
After having invited 11 guest vocalists to offer different interpretations of the songs on their last studio effort, Shout!, the band wanted to keep the guests to a minimum this time around, however, Jimmie Vaughan turns up for a sizzling cameo on the super-charged “Burning Point.” Haynes says, “When I first wrote ‘Burning Point,’ it had more of a New Orleans feel to it. But when we got into the studio in Austin to record it, it took on more of a Texas vibe, and Jimmie really added to that.”
Longtime collaborator Gordie Johnson joined Haynes as co-producer for six tunes, while the iconic Don Was co-produced the powerful and moving “Dreams & Songs” and “Pressure Under Fire” along with the frontman. The latter explodes into a lyrical guitar solo as Haynes urges, “We’ve got to get out of this mess.”
“‘Pressure Under Fire’ is essentially another political song, but it comes from the standpoint that we’re all in this together, and it’s up to us to make it work,” Haynes states. “The opening line, ‘Just another song about the same thing,’ recognizes this is a message that we’ve heard before, but it needs to be said—especially now.”
Another politically-charged song, “Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground,” is the reworking of the traditional blues instrumental originally recorded by Blind Willie Johnson, to which Haynes added lyrics and the band turned into an epic gospel rock closer. “Dark Was The Night,” along with the aforementioned “Thorns Of Life” and “Revolution Come, Revolution Go,” comprise the three centerpieces of the album from a musical arrangement standpoint.
About the song “Revolution Come,” Haynes explains, “It starts out as a swinging rock song, and then it goes into this blues shuffle that feels almost like a different composition altogether. It also has a jazz improv section, but ends up where it starts out. That’s indicative of what the message is: going through all of these changes and winding up where you began.”
Haynes goes on to say, “In many ways, the chemistry between the four of us is an extension of the chemistry that the original trio had. The approach we take to the music is the same uncompromising and adventurous approach, although it’s inevitable that the music is going to grow in different directions. The common thread is the influences we choose and the way we play together, which harkens back to how important improvisation was in most of the music we all love. At the end of the day, we’re friends. Making this music is satisfying in a way that’s completely different from any other project I’ve been a part of. That’s what inspires all of us.”
Nikki Lane’s stunning third album Highway Queen, out February 17th, 2017, sees the young Nashville singer emerge as one of country and rock’s most gifted songwriters. Co-produced by Lane and fellow singer-songwriter, Jonathan Tyler, this emotional tour-de-force was recorded at Matt Pence’s Echo Lab studio in Denton, Texas as well as at Club Roar with Collin Dupuis in Nashville, Tennessee. Blending potent lyrics, unbridled blues guitars and vintage Sixties country-pop swagger, Lane’s new music will resonate as easily with Lana Del Rey and Jenny Lewis fans as those of Neil Young and Tom Petty.
Highway Queen is a journey through heartbreak that takes exquisite turns. The record begins with a whiskey-soaked homage to Lane’s hometown (“700,000 Rednecks”) and ends on the profoundly raw “Forever Lasts Forever,” where Lane mourns a failed marriage – the “lighter shade of skin” left behind from her wedding ring. On “Forever” and the confessional “Muddy Waters,” Lane’s lyrics align her with perceptive songwriters like Nick Lowe and Cass McCombs. Elsewhere, “Companion” is pure Everly Brothers’ dreaminess (“I would spend a lifetime/ Playing catch you if I can”). She goes on a Vegas bender on the rollicking “Jackpot,” fights last-call blues (“Foolish Heart”) and tosses off brazen one-liners at a backroom piano (“Big Mouth”).
“Love is the most unavoidable thing in the world,” Lane says. “The person you pick could be half set-up to destroy your life with their own habits – I’ve certainly experienced that before and taken way too long to get out of that mistake.”
In 2014, Lane’s second album All or Nothin’ (New West) solidified her sandpaper voice beneath a ten-gallon hat as the new sound and look of outlaw country music. Produced by Dan Auerbach, the record’s bluesy Western guitars paired with Lane’s Dusty Springfield-esque voice earned glowing reviews from NPR, the Guardian and Rolling Stone. In three years since her Walk of Shame debut, Lane said she was living most of the year on the road.
Growing up, Lane used to watch her father pave asphalt during blistering South Carolina summers. She’d sit on the roller (“what helps smooth out the asphalt”) next to a guy named Rooster and divvy out Hardee’s lunch orders for the workers. “My father thought he was a country singer,” Lane laughs. “He partied hard at night, but by 6:30 AM he was out on the roads in 100-degree weather.” That’s the southern work ethic, she says. “We didn’t have a lot of money, but I was privileged with the knowledge of how to work hard, how to learn and to succeed when things aren’t set up for me.” Creativity was an unthinkable luxury, she adds. “When people told me I should try to get a record deal for songs I was writing, I was like, ‘that’s cute – I’ve got to be at work at 10 A.M.’”
“Becoming a songwriter is one of the most selfish things I’ve ever done,” Lane says plainly. She describes writing her first song at age 25 like it was a necessary act of self-preservation after a devastating breakup. Many of her early songs, she said on Shame and Nothin’, were about the fleetingness of relationships she believed were permanent, she says. Lane’s main line of work in those days was a fashion entrepreneur (she’s currently the owner of Nashville’s vintage clothing boutique High Class Hillbilly). It brought her to cities around the country, New York to Los Angeles to Nashville. And like a true wanderer, Lane’s sound crisscrosses musical genres with ease, while the lonesome romantic in her remains. Even a soft song like, “Send The Sun,” with its lilting downward strum, is flush with bittersweet emotion. “Darling, we’re staring at the same moon,” Lane sings lovingly. “I used to say that to my ex,” she says with cheerful stoicism, “to try to brighten the long nights, stay positive.”
Highway Queen is poised to be Lane’s mainstream breakthrough. “Am I excited to spend years of my life in a van, away from family and friends? No, but I’m excited to share my songs, so they’ll reach people and help them get through whatever they’re going through. To me, that’s worth it.”
“Lay You Down” is one of those unexpected moments for Lane. “That song was inspired by something Levon Helm’s wife posted on Facebook when he was sick with cancer,” Lane says. “I was just so moved by her telling the world how much love he felt from people writing to them, and moved that because of the Internet, I was able to see that love – even from a distance.” The song became surreal for Lane and her band when her longtime guitarist, Alex Munoz, was diagnosed with cancer while they were playing it. “It deepened my perspective and the importance of keeping everyone safe,” says Lane.
On the record cover, Lane looks out on wide, unowned Texan plains, leaning on the fearsome horns of a massive steer. Wearing a vintage Victorian dress, the stark photo invokes a time before highways existed. The symbolism isn’t lost on Lane. Highway Queen was a pioneering moment for her as an artist.
“I was always a smart girl, always had to yell to be heard,” she says, “But this was the first time in my career where I decided how things were going to go; I was willing to take the heat.” Lane included the bonus track “Champion” as a small testament to that empowerment. “It makes a point,” Lane says with a smile, “That I appreciate what you’re saying, but get the fuck out of my way.”
Tickets available at thepubstation.com, Pub Station Box Office (2502 First Avenue North), or by calling (877) 987- 6487.
Dates and Times
- Wednesday, August 21, 2019 – 7:00 PM
The Pub Station
Things to Know About The Pub Station ● The Pub Station offers live music and entertainment several nights each week. ● You'll find a huge selection of microbrews on tap, including lots lof locals. 🍻 ● The atmosphere is casual. ● They serve up pizza from Pie Guys Pizzeria. 🍕 Yum! ● Happiest Ho...