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Archive for the ‘Allman Brothers’ Category

As with many Allman Brothers fans, I’ve been a fan since the 1970s. I vaguely remember seeing Derek and the Dominos during college (I assume Duane Allman was present), not knowing much about them at the time. It was Friday, October 30, 1970 in the SUNY Albany gym (thank you internet!). Little did I know how great Duane and that short lived band would be or how enamored I’d become with the Allman Brothers Band.

I remember one time taking the subway to, what seemed to me a remote park in the Bronx, to see the Allman Brothers and another time borrowing a car and traveling an hour to another college campus to see them. I remember how worn out my vinyl copy of Live at the Fillmore East got and how devastated I was when my stereo got stolen with one record of the double album still on the turntable at the time. It wouldn’t have been so bad except I couldn’t find another copy of that exact same record.

The Allman Brothers Band in 1969

I was a late bloomer to the annual Allman Brothers event at the Beacon, but was lucky enough to have seen some great concerts there. Unfortunately, the passionate guitar of Duane Allman and the melodic guitar of Dicky Betts were absent in the current configuration. Both Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes were too atonal, too self absorbed for me, although I continued to go year after year.

I was surprised, however, how much I enjoyed Gregg on his own. The horn section, absent at ABB concerts, added a much appreciated change to many of the reworked Allman Brothers songs as well as Gregg’s own tunes. I’ve seen him several times on his own, the most notable was around New Years many years ago in the West Hampton Performing Arts Center, a more intimate venue. I was scheduled to see him at City Winery last November but those concerts got postponed until next July and ultimately they were cancelled.

The one thing that amazes me from the obituaries I’ve read is the lack of mention of his Searching For Simplicity album. I personally think it’s his best. It’s the kind of blues that allow you to wallow in your own, if you happen to be in that frame of mind. You can sing and feel as low as you want. However, if you’re in a good mood, you can sing and understand another man’s blues while not wallowing in your own. For a time, it was a CD that was always in my car while another copy was at home. If you haven’t listened to it, I highly suggest it.

Before you suggest that I’m idolizing the man, I will readily admit that his autobiography, My Cross to Bear, was very much less than stellar and didn’t come close to Please Be With Me, his niece Galadrielle Allman’s tribute to her father, Duane, and in his interview at the time the book was published with Stephen Colbert, he came off as a buffoon. But, the man could sing and he could play the guitar and he could draw in audiences.

The good ones are dropping like flies, it seems…Gregg Allman, Butch Trucks, B.B. King, J. Geils, Chuck Berry, Leon Russell. People who had an impact on Rock N Roll.  And while I realize that at my age I should expect the musicians of my age to start dying off, it is with great sadness when I hear of another one biting the dust. The only salvation is that, hopefully, that concert in the great beyond is going to be one hell of a show.

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PleaseBeWithMePlease Be With Me: A Song for My Father Duane Allman authored by his daughter Galadrielle is a daughter’s homage to the father she never really knew. Duane died when Galadrielle was one year old.

Unlike the illiterate and inane My Cross to Bear, Gregg Allman’s autobiography, this book is well written. Rather than concentrating on the drugs and women that Gregg chose to dwell on, Galadrielle chose to honor her father by talking about his devotion to music, his growth as a musician and both those musicians who influenced him as well as those he influenced. The list of musicians that he played with daunting: Aretha Franklin, Boz Scaggs, Eric Clapton, King Curtis and more. And any Allman Brothers/Duane fan will readily extol the virtues of his music, from the amazing Layla to the extraordinary Loan Me a Dime (one of my personal favorites) with Boz Scaggs. It would have been nice to see how he would have developed musically if he had lived.

Galadrielle does not gloss over the drugs and women because they had major impacts on the band and their families. But on the other hand, it was not her focus.

While you can see that Galadrielle idolized her dad, Please Be With Me is a pretty even-handed biography and one worth reading.

Next on the list, I guess, is One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band by Alan Paul. That should complete my Allman Brothers Band reading list.

 

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As some of you may know, I’m a big Allman Brothers Band fan. Not the biggest, but big enough. I’ve seen Gregg perform solo a good number of times and the Allman Brothers Band pretty much regularly at the Beacon Theater in New York. So Gregg’s autobiography was a must read, regardless of the reviews, which were pretty good.

My Cross to Bear is an interesting read. It’s like sitting in Gregory’s (his real friends call him Gregory, not Gregg) living room over a cup of coffee (since he’s alcohol/drug free) and listening to him ramble on about his life, his brother, his wives, bandmates, etc. He doesn’t ‘diss’ anyone nor does he reveal any major revelations. His alcohol and drug abuse, as well as that of his bandmates, made for a turbulent life.

However, My Cross to Bear is more notable for what it doesn’t say. Searching for Simplicity is far and away Gregg’s best solo album as well as, in my humble opinion, one of the best blues albums around. It apparently is one that Gregg’s proud of as well. Yet there’s scant mention of it and there’s no mention of why he never plays songs from it in his concerts.  Hittin’ the Note is the best (and only) Allman Brothers album produced recently and he barely mentions it, other than to say Jaimoe came up with the title from one of Berry Oakley’s pet phrases.

While My Cross to Bear is a must for Allman Brothers fans, I’d rather have heard less about the tos and fros of his travels and more about the making of some of the best music we’ll ever hear.

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