Hard Road: Gov’t Mule Meets Toots Hibbert on “Dub Side of the Mule”

March 25, 2015

Words by DJ Gravy


Jam band and festival crowds love reggae, and generally want way more than what they get in this department. The Grateful Dead, the pioneers of the field, and Phish both incorporated reggae into their sets early on, though this is not a widely known facet of either’s repertoire. While the Allman Brothers aren’t known for the same, their longtime guitarist Warren Haynes has always thrown some reggae into the mix in his own projects, particularly Gov’t Mule, the jam band he formed in 1994 with bassist Allen Woody.

Mighty High, a 2007 album by “The Mule,” featured Rastafari-inspired reworkings of earlier material, as well as a selection of reggae covers, and they have occasionally worked with Toots Hibbert over the years. At their New Year’s Eve 2006 concert at Beacon Theatre in New York City, the group brought the legendary Maytals frontman for a full hour set, backing him on some of his most classic songs including โ€œPressure Drop,โ€ โ€œ54-46 Was My Number,โ€ โ€œReggae Got Soul,โ€ as well as a rendition of Toots’ version of the Radiohead song โ€œLet Down.โ€ That performance is now seeing commercial release April 7th with Dub Side of the Mule, part of a series of archival live recordings being released by Evil Teen Records to celebrate Gov’t Mule’s 20th anniversary this year.

The show also featured a version of “Hard Road,” an unreleased, Selassie-inspired Toots track that’s been a part of the Maytals live show in recent years. With no new Toots material or shows on the horizon, as the singer continues to recover from a head injury sustained in 2013 (get well, brother), we’re pleased to be able to share something fresh from one of our favorite voices, with a premiere of “Hard Road,” as contained on the deluxe edition of Dub Side of the Mule.