Ever since the death of bassist and founding member Allen Woody,
Gov’t Mule, the blues/jazz rockers that originally spawned from the
resurrected Allman Brothers Band, have been doing some soul
searching. The quest to find a replacement has been long and hard,
but after three years of touring and two studio albums full of
all-stars and personal heroes, members Warren Haynes, Matt Abts and
Danny Louis have found a permanent bassist in Andy Hess.

Kate Green
Courtesy of ATO Records

Hess has performed for years with many top acts including the
Black Crowes, Joan Osbourne and John Scofield. But oddly enough,
this latest outfit is his first full time experience, and he’s
excited for the change. Hess said, “With a lot of these different
gigs that I’ve done over the years, I’ve always kind of felt like I
was a hired gun. And that’s cool, but this is something where I
feel more a part of it, like ‘Hey, we’re going to take a picture
and you’re in it.’ There’s different ways of how you’re treated and
how you feel.”

Despite the shift from being a bassist for hire and a
full-fledged band member, Hess maintains that there are no hard
feelings between him and his previous employers. “Most of the gigs
that I’ve gotten are through recommendation, and if you have the
goods or if they like you as a person they’ll recommend you. And
you’ll still become friends with those people, I’m John
(Scofield)’s friend, he’s someone that I’ll want to call up.”

His capability to work as a sideman in previous projects is
largely due to his ability to create fat tones without stealing the
show. He understands that one doesn’t have to play like Victor
Wooten to be an excellent bassist. “That’s not my thing, I mean
that shit’s off the hook, but it’s just not how I play. I like the
role of connecting with the drummer and being supportive of other
people.”

In the limelight or not, one can’t help but watch Hess perform –
there’s a lot to be said for a performer who can be interesting
simply by playing their instrument. “It’s not like you have to have
the right pants or whatever. It’s all about having fun and making
some good music.” Whether he’s just bobbing his head up and down or
making a face as if he’s shocked by sound, his mannerisms always
amplify his unique style.

Plans to work in the studio are also in the making, but not
before the band flexes its live muscle. Watch Andy Hess and the
rest of Gov’t Mule get further acquainted tonight at the Michigan
Theater.

 

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