The finale of today’s main stage action at Mountain Jam in Hunter, New York found Gov’t Mule collaborating with the Levon Helm Band on seven songs made famous by the late drummer from his days with The Band. Levon band members Larry Campbell, Brian Mitchell, Jim Weider, Byron Isaacs and the horns all joined Gov’t Mule, which features Ramble regular Danny Louis on keys, for the whole set, while Justin Guip and Teresa Williams came out for most of the tunes.
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The Night They Drove Old Dixie and Up On Cripple Creek, two songs Helm hadn’t actually performed with his longtime solo group, kicked off the set before Ophelia brought the LHB back into familiar territory. Throughout the performance Larry Campbell and Brian Mitchell split lead vocal duties with Mule front man and festival curator Warren Haynes. Teresa Williams spent most of the evening singing backing vocals, but did get a few verses out front on It Makes No Difference. Gov’t Mule bassist Jorgen Carlsson sat out the first six songs while drummer Matt Abts only played on Up On Cripple Creek. The group stayed true to the Last Waltz arrangements for the most part, with the notable exception of This Wheels On Fire which featured a guitar duel between Haynes and Campbell.
Levon Helm Tribute: The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, Up On Cripple Creek, Ophelia, The Shape I’m In, This Wheels On Fire, It Makes No Difference, The Weight
All in all, the tribute included seven of The Band’s most beloved songs. A candle on the drum riser marked “Levon Helm” marked the drummer’s familiar place. Amy Helm was supposed to be part of this evening’s performance but according to Haynes “couldn’t make it” though he sent his love out to her. For the final song of the set, Warren brought out Lukas Nelson, Jorgen Carlsson and vocalist Machan Taylor, telling the crowd this performance was the only way they knew how to deal with such a tremendous loss before launching into The Weight. The Levon tribute made up the bulk of Gov’t Mule’s second set on Saturday. Following The Weight, Warren gathered both bands at the front of the stage for a group picture. Once the Levon Helm Band departed, the members of Mule emerged for a Birth Of The Mule that was heating up at press time.