Rapt attention

Saturday, May 27, 2017


So who's left, Jaimoe? I first saw the Allman Brothers back in a time when practically no one had heard of them, they were a backup band for I want to say Steppenwolf at the first show of theirs I attended but went through the mental archives and can't put my finger on it. Maybe 1971. Post Hourglass but not a household name yet.

I remember being astounded at how tight they were, maybe the tightest syncopated groove of anybody this side of James Brown. And the idea of two drummers was new to me at the time, haven't seen the Grateful Dead yet. They were wonderful. Got to see Duane. Berry. Awesome.

I had my coming of age during a time that I call the blue jean bands - Dead, Allmans and The Band. Straight ahead American roots music. My pals and I would argue about their relative merit but we loved them all. The Watkins Glen lineup. A well crafted sound that held up for decades and through numerous painful losses, for all three bands.

The Allman Brothers were a southern psychedelic band, the first.

There was a good reason they were associated with the psilocybin mushroom, they grew wild under the patties in the swamps near Gainesville and Micinopi.

And as much as the recently departed Gregg Allman tried to disassociate from that aspect and say it was overblown in his book, I remember the time and they were very psychedelic. The Macon sound.

You put on Mountain Jam or Le Brers and you knew that it wasn't about show with these guys. They could play with craft, timing and artistry like no one else of their day.

Their rhythm section was superb. Duane's chops were legendary, Clapton himself was supposed to have had a religious epiphany when he first heard Duane's session work on Hey Jude for Wilson Pickett.

Gregg had one of, if not the greatest, white soul blues voices. Sang like sweet caramel. He started as a guitar player, switched to the Hammond and created an explosion heard wound the world when he handed his brother a coricidin bottle when he was sick.

That bottle launched Duane onto slide. And the rest was history. What amazed me about Gregg was how hard he worked, how many songs he sang. He was the voice of the band, and often the sole principal voice after Dickie left. Or meaningful voice anyway.

Good on you and god bless Gregg. You were a musician who worked his ass off and played his heart out. Daresay too soon, but livers and kidneys are precious organs and sometimes a payment must be made. You sang and played beautifully.

Here's the dead and allmans from Watkins Glen. The soundcheck, night before.


Anonymous said...

Never saw the Allman brothers in concert. But I did run into Duane and Gregg one summer day in 1968 at the Santa Monica pier. They were performing as the Allman Joy band at the time. They were hanging out on the pier, checking out the bikini girls and SoCal scene. They both had on those tall Lincoln top hats with long blond hair and were wearing old civil war officers jackets, the long ones with tails. Really cool looking dudes that stood out... and that's hard to do on the boardwalk in Santa Monica.


Anonymous said...

You jarred my memory big time re Allman Brothers, I was at the Fillmore in 1966 when the Airplane and Wilson Pickett played "the Midnight Hour" for at least 45 minutes at 12 midnight, at 18 years old we 4-5 friends went almost every Friday Saturday, Sunday every weekend as it was the best entertainment in the world, you could smoke inside and enjoy the light shows, girls and the bands unfortunately I cannot even remember all the bands we saw, Santana, Quicksilver,Stevie Wonder at Winterland, Steppenwolf , Big Brother, Chuck Berry, Dead, my good friend Greg Enrico was the drummer for Sly and the Family Stone we used to go to his house and watch him practice, they played at clubs like "The Winchester Cathedral" ..so many I was so much into the scene that I took the music for granted. I tell my wife these memories and she cannot relate at all, way too young. Anyway I love your writing