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The City Journals

Gov’t Mule jams for three hours at Red Butte

Sep 30, 2019 03:41PM ● By Spencer Belnap

Gov’t Mule played for several hours at Red Butte Gardens amphitheater. (Spencer W. Belnap/City Journals)

By Spencer W. Belnap | [email protected]

Red Butte Garden’s summer concert series has brought a wide array of artists to Salt Lake City this year. Most shows sold out, and the amphitheater continues to remain one of the most popular outdoor venues in Utah. On Sept. 4, it was an “Evening with Gov’t Mule,” a classic rock and jam band that has been touring around the world for 25 years. 

Since this show was called an “Evening with Gov’t Mule,” that meant there was no opening artist or band. The four group members played two sets of songs with a brief intermission in between. In total, they played for roughly three hours. Concerts like this are rare, and the nearly sold-out crowd in attendance was pleased.

“I just love them,” Beth Bell said. She is an Ogden resident, but made the journey south for the concert. “I saw them at Deer Valley last year, and they played for almost three hours there, it was amazing. I love his voice. A lot of people like when they just play music, but I really like the voice.”

Bell was referring to lead singer Warren Haynes. He has a deep voice that seemed particularly fitting in a venue below a mountain range. His raspy vocals echoed across the amphitheater lawns and surrounding gardens and hillsides. The wind was calm but steady during the show, causing Haynes’ long hair to flow majestically. One could tell this was a man very much in his element, below an open sky and adoring audience. He rarely said anything between songs, letting the music speak for itself. 

The audience was a mix of men and women mostly of the baby boomer generation, with some younger adults and a smattering of children as well. You could tell some have been loyal followers of the band for years. One man had a well-worn concert T-shirt on from 2009, when Gov’t Mule played a show in Colorado. 

The intermission provided opportunity for guests to mingle amongst themselves, or walk around the beautiful creek and well-maintained paths. The amphitheater was slightly cooler than other pockets of Salt Lake that night, but still in a comfortable 85-degree range. 

Sugar House resident Michael Pepe was at Red Butte for his first time and reflected upon the ages of people in attendance that night. 

“There’s a lot of baby boomers here and not a lot of our age,” Pepe said, referring to younger groups like millennials. “It kinda feels like we haven’t done a good job of passing this music onto the next generation. That jam music, that kind of roots type stuff, so it’s a little sad.”

Gov’t Mule may have primarily built their large and loyal following decades ago, but it’s evident they have no intentions of slowing down. They have released a new album of either new original jams or a live concert recording almost every year. They play dozens of shows in arenas and venues around the world. After the stop in Salt Lake, they were headed to Las Vegas. They wrap up a long stint of tour dates the first part of October.