Born out of the Allman Brothers Band's late-'80s rebirth, Gov't Mule was a force of nature that combined talented guitarist/songwriter Warren Haynes with noted Southern-rock bassist Allen Woody. Augmented by the percussive prowess of drummer Matt Abts, Gov't Mule quickly grew from side-project status to a full-time gig. However, Woody's unexpected death in August 2000, barely a month after the band's appearance at the Kansas City Blues and Jazz Festival, left Haynes and Abts devastated. Two years later, the band has not only survived but also thrived thanks to an impressive list of friends. Starting in 2001, with the release of The Deep End, Vol. 1, and continuing this month with Vol. 2, the band has enlisted the help of an army of bass players in the studio, from legends such as Jack Bruce, Phil Lesh and the late John Entwistle to contemporary thump-stick heroes such as Mike Gordon, Dave Schools and Les Claypool. The band's current tour has seen a number of stand-ins, including former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted, proving that this Mule stubbornly refuses to die.