Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tony's Guitarist Picks - David Gilmour

In retrospect, the last blog I wrote about Duane Allman was [in my view] extremely long-winded.  Today I will keep it much shorter.  The object of today’s exercise is David Gilmour, the man with the humungous Fender who is responsible for all the guitar noise from Pink Floyd.

It was the week between the last day of high school and graduation.  I decided to expand my musical horizons beyond the Beatles, so I bought four albums – two by the Doors [Morrison Hotel, LA Woman] and two by Pink Floyd [The Dark Side of the Moon, The Wall]. What struck me about Pink Floyd besides all the cool sound effects was the guitar playing of David Gilmour.  I noticed that he didn’t get very many songwriting credits while Roger Waters was in the band, but I did notice that fact didn’t stop David Gilmour from shining brightly.  Gilmour sang well [much better than Roger Waters], he played lots of different guitars, and he played them with an economy unheard of in most bands, especially the metal bands.  I thought he played a lot like George Harrison in that he always seemed to choose his notes wisely, the notes that he chose always seemed perfect for any song he played, and he was never in any hurry to say what he wanted to say musically.  In short, Pink Floyd was a very cool-sounding band.  After the Floyd reportedly went their separate ways after The Final Cut [1982], both Roger Waters and David Gilmour put out solo albums [The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking and About Face, respectively].  What caught my ear was how much Gilmour’s album sounded like Pink Floyd, and how much Roger Waters’ album did not sound like Pink Floyd. That little tidbit didn’t escape Kurt Loder either when he reviewed The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking for Rolling Stone.  I believe his comments were along the lines that Gilmour had the patent on Pink Floyd’s sound, and that About Face had taken on a new luster in comparison with Roger’s work.  But I’m not here to trash Roger Waters.  Roger may have had all the songs, but without Gilmour to give them shape and form I didn’t think they were as good as what he produced when he was the guiding hand of Pink Floyd.  David Gilmour really was [and still is] “the guitar and voice of Pink Floyd.”  And as such, he also became my favorite guitar player.  What makes David Gilmour such a standout?  Let me count the ways…

The acoustic – Given all of their electronic wizardry, Pink Floyd doesn’t come to mind as a group that would play what David Crosby calls “wooden music.”  Given the opportunity, Gilmour can unplug with the best of them.  Wish You Were Here is the obvious example of Pink Floyd going “unplugged.”  Fat Old Sun from Atom Heart Mother is another good example.  He uses the acoustic as a soloing instrument on songs like Lost For Words [from The Division Bell] and Near the End [from About Face].  He’s used it as a rhythm instrument – the rhythm track for Dogs [Animals, 1977] is acoustic.  He’ll play half a song on an acoustic before abruptly switching to an electric for solo work like On the Turning Away [A Momentary Lapse of Reason, 1987].  He did a live DVD where he unplugged for Shine On You Crazy Diamond.  I wasn’t sure how he’d pull that off, but he did so effortlessly.  Another good usage of the acoustic is found on Murder [About Face].  His use of a capo [on the second fret, I think…] makes the song sound like Norwegian Wood [both songs are in the same key].  That’s appropriate since the subject of Murder is John Lennon.

The “Nashville” tuning - This tuning on an acoustic guitar substitutes the wound E, A, and D strings with lighter gauge strings of the pairs of a twelve-string guitar.  The guitar sounds like it’s an octave higher.  Gilmour replaced the lower E string with a second six-string high E.  I first heard this tuning utilized by Keith Richards on the Stones Wild Horses [Sticky Fingers, 1971].  Keith’s usage made Wild Horses sound more like a country song [hence the name of the tuning], but Gilmour’s use lends a shimmering, ethereal quality to whatever song he thinks needs such a quality.  Gilmour first used it on I Can’t Breathe Anymore [David Gilmour, 1978].  He also used it for Hey You, Mother and Comfortably Numb.

The lap steel – Sometimes Gilmour used the lap steel for coloring [Breathe, Hey You, The Great Gig in the Sky, Comfortably Numb], other times he used it for soloing [Shine On You Crazy Diamond Part VI, High Hopes], and one time [the only one I can think of] he used it for taking over a song [One of These Days].  Until I heard One of These Days [Meddle, 1971] I had no idea you could play very loud power chords on a lap steel.

Speed kills – David Gilmour can wring more emotion out of four notes than Yngve Malmsteen or any other shredder [ahem…Steve Vai or Joe Satriani] can with one hundred.  Why four notes?  Shine On You Crazy Diamond.  Those four notes that start Part II [3:56] of this song were all that Roger Waters needed for inspiration to write about Syd Barrett.  How else can one make those long string bends that he gets on Part I of the same song?  You can’t get there by playing lightning fast.  Since Gilmour plays slowly compared to many guitarists, he can inject a lot of melody into his playing.  You can practically sing his solos [I’m listening to Mother as I write this…].

The solos – David Gilmour’s soloing prowess is legendary.  His solos are not terribly complex.  It’s the age-old argument of “speed vs. feeling.”  David Gilmour has feeling in abundance.  For him, soling is a fun thing to do.  He told a BBC interviewer once that he can’t imagine what it’s like being in the audience and listening to it.  He went on to say that soloing “is the best way that some of us express ourselves.”  He has a bunch of great ones [in no particular order]:  Young Lust, Mother, Hey You, Wish You Were Here, SOYCD, Dogs, Time, Money, High Hopes, Have a Cigar, The Final Cut, On the Turning Away, Another Brick in the Wall Pt 2, Echoes, Comfortably Numb.  Those are just the ones off the top of my head.

I remember one particular moment when I thought Gilmour’s playing coerced a “wow!” out of me.  It was at a midnight movie showing of Pink Floyd: The Wall.  Movies shown in a theater are fairly loud, but on this night it seemed especially loud [maybe because I wasn’t sober? who knows?].  The moment happened on the second song, The Thin Ice.  The song itself is quiet, the piano sounding almost like someone is playing “Chopsticks” until suddenly there’s a drum break and there’s Gilmour’s guitar.  The sound was ominous, sinister, and HUGE.  It was a definite “whoa!” moment.  It definitely set the tone for what came later.  There’s a certain quality to Gilmour’s soloing that makes one drop what he’s doing and pay attention to the music.  Comfortably Numb does that for me.  I’ve heard that song hundreds of times, but whenever I hear the solos [especially the second one] I have to stop what I’m doing [unless I’m driving], crank up the volume and enjoy.

The rhythm – Overlooked in Gilmour’s playing is his rhythm prowess.  One needs to look no further than Have a Cigar [Wish You Were Here, 1975] where Gilmour injects a shot of rhythm and blues after the bleak Welcome to the Machine.  Another Brick in the Wall Part 2 [The Wall, 1979] is another example of rhythm playing at its most un-Floydian.  His rhythm guitar sounds almost like Chic.  Then there’s the aforementioned Dogs.  His acoustic rhythm playing sounds like a scythe cutting through the fog.

Know when to support, know when to lead – Gilmour knows when to play, and more importantly [I think, anyway…] when not to play.  When Dick Parry plays his sax solo in SOYCD Part V, Gilmour plays a nice arpeggio figure in the back.  He also does the arpeggio thing on Dark Side of the Moon’s Us and Them.  No guitar solo is required for this song, but his playing on top of Rick Wright’s song sets the appropriate mood.  As good a support player that he is, he also knows when to step to the forefront.  Hey You [The Wall, 1979] is Roger Waters’ song, but it has Gilmour’s stamp all over it.  He throws in practically everything in his guitar arsenal into the song.  The intro is played on an acoustic guitar in the “Nashville tuning.”  He sang the verses before the guitar solo, he played the fretless bass as well as all the guitar solos and acoustic overdubs.  Plus, he’s got the lap steel on there that you can hear right after he finishes the guitar solo.  Everything you want to know about David Gilmour’s talent as a guitar player and arranger can be found in Hey You.

Have guitar, will travel – In addition to his work with the Floyd and his own solo work, Gilmour lends his talents to other people as a session player.  He’s worked with the likes of Bryan Ferry, Paul McCartney, Supertramp and Kate Bush.  His latest contribution outside his own work came with The Orb.  Such was the nature and extent of his contribution to their work, their latest album [Metallic Spheres] was credited “The Orb featuring David Gilmour.”  My favorite bit that he did for someone else was to provide the lead guitar for Pete Townshend’s song Give Blood [White City: A Novel, 1985]. 

Careful With That Axe, Eugene – Gilmour’s axe of choice on the electric side is a Fender Stratocaster.  I have seen him use other guitars though.  For his solo on Another Brick in the Wall Part 2 he used a Les Paul.  He uses a Fender Esquire with the heavy E string tuned down to D for playing Run Like Hell.  I saw him use a white Fender Telecaster for Astronomy Domine.  For Sorrow [A Momentary Lapse of Reason, 1987] he broke out a headless Steinberger to get a tone from Hell.  For some of his solo work he has taken to playing a Gretsch Duo-Jet.  He uses it to great effect on Where We Start [On an Island, 2006].  It’s a very nice sounding guitar – I want one!  For acoustic work he’ll use a Taylor 712 CE acoustic steel string, a Martin D-28 acoustic steel string, a Jose Vilaplana acoustic nylon string, and an Ovation Custom Legend 1619-4 acoustic steel string with high strung unwound strings.  They all sound very good in his hands.

I won’t go into what amps or other gear he uses.  There is a website called Gilmourish [http://www.gilmourish.com/] that provides an exhaustive look at how David Gilmour gets the sounds that he does.  It claims to be the largest David Gilmour gear source on the net.  And having looked through the site, I believe them.  If you’re a gearhead, and especially a David Gilmour gearhead, this site is your one-stop shopping to get your gear fix.  It’s a very good site.

Not much else needs to be said about David Gilmour the guitar player.  Carol and I had the pleasure of seeing him in person twice, both times on Pink Floyd’s last tour in 1994.  The sound was crystal clear, the laser lights were very cool, the films shown on the round screen behind the stage complemented the music well.  Throw in a giant mirror ball and a couple of inflatable pigs for good measure and you’ve got yourself a very good show.  With Rick Wright’s death a few years ago, Pink Floyd is now history.  David Gilmour has seen it all and done it all.  He doesn’t have to work if he doesn’t want to.  I understand that he’s working on another record these days.  If so, it will be mine!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tony's 2011 Picks - Eleven from '11

I didn’t buy a lot of “new” music in 2011.  There wasn’t a lot of new music that jumped out and screamed “buy me.”  Some of those that I did buy I’ve already written about at length.  I pretty much stuck to stuff that’s come out in years past that I didn’t get when they were new.  So my list of favorite releases from 2011 is a short one.  Ten of them contain new music, and one of them is a monster of a box set.  As one would expect from me, the list is filled with the usual suspects, but as long as the usual suspects continue to make new music, I’ll continue to buy it and write about it.

Tom Waits – Bad As Me The only surprise about this Tom Waits release is the brevity of the songs.  All thirteen songs (16 if you got the “deluxe” version) run under five minutes.  Sound-wise, there are no surprises.  The “human beatbox” that was prevalent on 2004’s Real Gone is gone, and keyboards that were absent from that release make their return on Bad As Me.  As usual, Tom Waits barks, hollers, croons, and rasps.  Keith Richards makes an appearance on four of the songs, the funniest of which is Satisfied.  Here Tom Waits mocks Mick and Keith by name and tells him that, unlike the singer who “can’t get no satisfaction” he will be satisfied by the time it’s his turn to depart planet Earth.  There’s an anti-war rant called Hell Broke Luce, which features machine-gun fire and snarling guitars.  He’s got poetic ballads like Back in the Crowd and Kiss MeBad As Me has the mix of the old-timey and the surreal one expects of any Tom Waits release.  The songs sound like they were recorded after all the bars closed.  There’s dark humor and sorrow, anger, disgust and heartbreak.  The disgust comes in Talking At The Same Time: “We bailed out all the millionaires/They got the fruit, we got the rind…”  The sadness comes in Pay Me where the singer tells of his family who pays him not to come home.  The only way down from the gallows is to swing… To borrow a phrase, Bad As Me is chock full of brawlers, bawlers and bastards.  It is essential for any Tom Waits fan.  Same as it ever was…

Ry Cooder – Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down  Ry Cooder’s most recent works have looked back in the past.  There’s his “California trilogy” – Chávez Ravine [2005], My Name Is Buddy [2007], and I, Flathead [2008].  These albums serve as an alternative history of California one won’t find in the text book.  Chávez Ravine dealt with the Los Angeles Hispanic neighborhood that “disappeared” [it was bulldozed in the name of “progress”] to make way for the construction of Dodger Stadium.  My Name Is Buddy chronicles the travels of a red cat named Buddy and some of his animal friends as they encounter dust bowl refugees, union organizers, union busters, anti-Communists, and a country music singer named Kash Buk.  Kash Buk reappears in I, Flathead, with its tales of drag-racing aliens, hot rods, honky tonks, hot blondes, his dog [his “homeland security”] Spayed Cooley, and 5000 country songs nobody wants to sing.  Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down doesn’t have an underlying them like the aforementioned trilogy.  Here, Ry Cooder channels his inner Woody Guthrie, and boy is he pissed.

Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down finds Ry Cooder commenting on current events.  He has a well-earned reputation of being a renowned Americana musicologist, and he puts that expertise to work on this CD.  Here he mixes blues, folk, ragtime, norteño, rock, and country.  Some of Ry Cooder’s usual suspects appear here – son Joachim [drums], Flaco Jimenez [accordion], Terry Evans, Willie Green and Juliette Commagere [vocals], Rene Camacho [bass].  Ry has the rest of the instruments covered – guitars, banjo, mandola, bajo sexton, bass, marimba.  Like Tom Waits he skewers those bankers who received financial bailouts from the government in 2008 in No Banker Left Behind.  In El Corrido Jesse James the outlaw asks God for his guns back so he can dispense some frontier-style justice on Wall Street.  In Quicksand a Mexican man describes a border crossing during which the guide for his group leaves in the middle of the night, and the man who takes over dies the next day in the sun.  He shows his disgust for Republicans in I Want My Crown [Republicans changed the lock on the heavenly door / keys to the kingdom don’t fit no more…]. Christmas Time This Year is Ry Cooder’s scathing indictment of America’s involvement in wars overseas set to a Mexican polka.  But there’s humor here as well.  John Lee Hooker for President imagines a world where all the Supreme Court justices are “fine looking women,” and if you’re nice you’ll have one bourbon, one scotch and one beer three times a day.  The children get milk, cream and alcohol if they stay in school.  If only…

Emmylou Harris – Hard Bargain  For most of her career, Emmylou Harris has contented herself with being an interpreter of songs written by other people.  She’s always been insecure about her songwriting.  I think she sells herself short in that regard – she wrote From Boulder to Birmingham!  What I didn’t realize [and I probably should have – I have many or her albums] was that she was the primary songwriter for only three of her albums before Hard Bargain.  Emmylou wrote all the songs on Red Dirt Girl [2000] and Stumble Into Grace [2003], but returned to recording other peoples’ songs for All I Intended to Be [2008].  On Hard Bargain, Emmylou returned to songwriting and produced a wonderful collection of songs.  There are three elegies on Hard Bargain.   The Road is for Gram Parsons.  In this song she can still remember every song he played.  My Name is Emmitt Till is told in the first person, telling how a black boy from Chicago was murdered in 1950s Mississippi for talking to a white woman, how he was kidnapped from his uncle’s house, beaten, stabbed, shot, and thrown in the river “like trash when they were done.”  And she tells of how Emmitt Till’s mother kept the casket open to show her son’s mutilated body “for the whole wide world to see.”  Darlin’ Kate is for her late friend Kate McGarrigle, a frequent collaborator who lost her battle with cancer.

The album includes Six White Cadillacs.  Here, death is a welcome respite from the road that “we won’t have to wander anymore.”  The Ship on His Arm is about a wartime marriage that was inspired by her own parents, who married during World War II.  There’s New Orleans, where “the whole world stood to watch us drown,” but “to cut and run ain’t in our blood.”  It’s interesting how Emmylou chose to make “hurricane” and “Pontchartrain” rhyme in a song.  There are songs of lonely women – Lonely Girl and Nobody.  Given her long-time advocacy for animal rights, she even wrote a song about a Big Black Dog.  There’s a lot of melancholy on Hard Bargain, but it’s a good album nonetheless.  Her voice is still as angelic as ever.  I read in Billboard not too long ago that her next project will be a duets album with Rodney Crowell.  It’ll be good, that much is certain.

U2 – Achtung Baby Box Set Carol got me this for my birthday.  When author Bill Flanagan wrote his book U2 At the End of the World, he wrote about U2 in their Achtung Baby/Zooropa period.  Manager Paul McGuinness described this time as a three-year campaign.  This box set is the product of that period.  Included in this set are six CDs and four DVDs.  The six CDs include the original Achtung Baby remastered, the original Zooropa remastered, B-sides and Rarities, 2 CDs of remixes [the Über and Ünter remixes], and the “alternate” Achtung Baby.  The hardest core U2 fans have heard all of these before, but not me.  The remastered Achtung Baby and Zooropa sound as good as one would expect.  The B-sides and Rarities are interesting.  I could do without the remixes.  The “alternate” album [‘Kindergaten’] is for U2 what Let It Be…Naked is for the Beatles.  Take away the studio tricks and underneath you still get a pretty good album.  The DVDs include the documentary U2: From the Sky Down.  One DVD contains each of the videos made from the Achtung Baby/Zooropa period.  A third DVD is the Zoo TV – Live From Sydney concert.  This show was quite a bit of sensory overload, but it was good to see Bono not take himself so seriously for once.  The fourth and last DVD has lots of goodies – a Zoo TV special,  an MTV documentary, MTV’s show Most Wanted where a fan got to see a U2 show via satellite from his house, a video short about Trabants [‘Trabantland’], U2 on Naked City, U2 on TV-AM.  There’s CD-ROM content as well, complete with links to websites.  This is how to do a box set the right way.

Glen Campbell – Ghost On The Canvas  The country icon makes his final album and says goodbye to his fans.  http://tonysmusicroom.blogspot.com/search/label/Glen%20Campbell
Gregg Allman – Low Country Blues  Gregg’s first solo studio album in fourteen years has been nominated for a Grammy in the Best Blues Album category.  In fact, of the five albums nominated, three were made by members of the Allman Brothers Band.  Perhaps for this year they should rename the category “Best Blues Album by a member of the Allman Brothers Band.”  http://tonysmusicroom.blogspot.com/2011/08/gregg-allman-low-country-blues.html

Warren Haynes – Man in Motion  Also nominated for Best Blues Album [the third being the Tedeschi Trucks Band’s Revelator].  The hardest working man in the music business, Warren took a year off from Gov’t Mule to release and tour behind this soulful gem.  To these ears, Man in Motion is more of a soul album than blues, but I tend to nitpick.  http://tonysmusicroom.blogspot.com/2011/05/warren-haynes-tale-of-two-albums.html

Neil Young – A Treasure  Neil Young changed musical directions with every album he made for Geffen during the 1980s.  This CD captures Neil and some legendary Nashville studio pros in his “country phase.” http://tonysmusicroom.blogspot.com/2011/06/neil-young-treasure.html

Levon Helm – Ramble at the Ryman  Recorded at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium in 2008, Levon Helm and friends keep the spirit of The Band alive.  Levon doesn’t do all the singing, but with Larry Campbell, Theresa Williams and daughter Amy Helm along for the ride, he doesn’t have to.  http://tonysmusicroom.blogspot.com/2011/06/levon-helm-ramble-at-ryman.html
Joe Bonamassa – Dust Blow  This is the first of three releases Joe Bonamassa put out in 2011 [the others being Black Country Communion 2 and Don’t Explain (with singer Beth Hart)].  With three releases in 2011 Joe is trying to take Warren Haynes’ title as the hardest working man in the music business.  Unwilling to be put in a blues-rock straight jacket, Joe goes in a more eclectic direction as he did with his previous two releases, Black Rock [2010] and The Ballad of John Henry [2009].  I love to hear this guy play.

Black Country Communion – 2  After a not-so-stellar first album,  Glenn Hughes, Joe Bonamassa and company fulfill their potential on their sophomore release.  At times Black Country Communion sounds like the second coming of Deep Purple.  Everything is better – Kevin Shirley’s production is better, Glenn is singing better, Joe is playing like a hard-rock guitarist, and Derek Sherinian can finally be heard in the mix.  Jason Bonham didn’t need to improve his drumming it’s still rock-solid as it was on the first album.  Father John would be proud.  http://tonysmusicroom.blogspot.com/search/label/Black%20Country%20Communion

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tony's Guitarist Picks - Duane Allman

Duane Allman was a musical genius who couldn’t read or write music.  For those who are not devoted fans of the Allman Brothers Band like I am, Duane Allman is not a household name.  His recording career was but a short five years.  His genius came in “the vision thing.”  His genius was in his ability to bring people of disparate musical backgrounds together [jazz, country, blues, R&B, soul, psychedelic rock], mix and match those disparate influences and come up with something new.  Many would label this “something new” thing as “Southern rock.”  I argue that the music that came from the original Allman Brothers Band was what Gram Parsons called “Cosmic American Music.”  The kind of music they played wasn’t your standard “three chords and the truth.”  The band was unique – it had two lead guitar players [Duane Allman and Dickey Betts], two drummers [Jaimoe and Butch Trucks], a bassist who played like a third lead guitarist [Berry Oakley], and the greatest white blues singer on the planet [Gregg Allman].  Rock and Roll as a genre originated from the American South, so the term “Southern rock” is a bit redundant.  Duane didn’t sing, didn’t write songs, but he was the undisputed leader, the alpha dog in the Allman Brothers Band.  Drummer Butch Trucks credited Duane as giving the band “the religion,” and the rest of the band were his disciples.  Brother Gregg Allman said of his brother when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame “he was always the first to face the fire.”  That Duane Allman was able to create a band that survived his death is a testament to his vision.

Duane Allman became interested in playing music after he and his brother saw a BB King show in Nashville.  Shortly after that show Gregg bought his first guitar with money he earned delivering newspapers.  Duane often fought his little brother for the guitar until Mama A bought a Les Paul Junior for Duane.  Gregg taught Duane how to play the chords, but then Duane quickly surpassed his little brother.  When both brothers were attending school at the Castle Heights Military Academy in Tennessee, Duane would play along to the blues records he owned until he learned them perfectly.  When Gregg finished school [Duane dropped out], both went back to Daytona Beach and started a band.  Without going through the history of each line-up, I’ll fast-forward to when their band became known as The Hour Glass.   They were able to get a record deal with Liberty Records, and they re-located to Los Angeles.

While they were in the Hour Glass, they recorded material they didn’t like, chosen by an unsympathetic producer.  The record company wanted them to be psychedelic pop and didn’t want them playing live so as not to “ruin the image.”  They recorded two albums for Liberty Records, what Gregg referred to as a “shit sandwich.”  The band spent money earned from the few gigs they did play and went to FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.  They cut a BB King medley of the songs Sweet Little Angel, It’s My Own Fault, and How Blue Can You Get.  The Hour Glass’ producer didn’t like what he heard, the band broke up.  But this song gave a strong hint the direction Duane and Gregg wanted to take.  This wasn’t psychedelic pop – it was the blues.  It can be found on Duane Allman: An Anthology.  After the end of The Hour Glass, Duane and Gregg recorded an album of demos in September 1968 with Butch Trucks’ band The 31st of February.   They cut an exceptional version of Tim Rose’s Morning Dew.  The Grateful Dead and the Jeff Beck Group had also cut the song.  Duane and Gregg’s version is more like what Jeff Beck cut. They also cut an early version of Melissa.  This version is the only one you’ll hear featuring Duane Allman.  The album stayed in the can until after Duane’s death.  It came out in May 1972 under the title Duane & Gregg Allman.  The album is long out of print, but some of the cuts from it can be found elsewhere.  Morning Dew can be found on the Allman Brothers’ box set, Dreams.  The early version of Melissa with Duane can be found on Gregg’s anthology One More Try: An Anthology.   This music was another clue as to where Duane wanted to go musically.

BB King Medley – The Hour Glass

Morning Dew – The 31st of February

His most notable work came as a session player at FAME Studios [Muscle Shoals, Alabama] and with the band he founded, the Allman Brothers Band.  His big break as a session player came when he recorded Hey Jude with Wilson Pickett.  His guitar solo at the end of the song got the attention of Atlantic producer Jerry Wexler.  After the Wilson Pickett session, Duane got more and more session work to include the likes of Aretha Franklin, saxophone legend King Curtis, flautist Herbie Mann, Delaney & Bonnie, Clarence Carter, John Hammond, Boz Scaggs, and Johnny Jenkins.  His five-minute solo at the end of Boz Scaggs’ Loan Me a Dime is mesmerizing.  His work with Johnny Jenkins started out as a solo album for himself, but he didn’t finish the album because he formed the Allman Brothers Band instead.  This album [Ton-Ton Macoute!] features Dr. John’s Walk on Gilded Splinters, a song the Allman Brothers play in the live sets today as one of many tributes to Duane.
Hey Jude – Wilson Pickett

Loan Me a Dime – Boz Scaggs

Walk on Gilded Splinters – Johnny Jenkins

Accounts vary about how Duane Allman became such a devotee to playing the electric slide guitar.  Whether it was because of seeing a show of Taj Mahal and his band, or brother Gregg giving him a copy of Taj Mahal’s first album, this much is clear – Statesboro Blues [as played by Taj Mahal with Jessie Ed Davis on slide] was Duane’s revelation.  Such was the reverence for the song and the way it was played, the Allman Brothers Band still plays Statesboro Blues the same way Taj Mahal did in the mid-1960s.  Duane’s axe of choice for playing slide was a 1961 Gibson SG that was given to him by Dickey Betts (sometimes he played slide on a Les Paul).  Rather than play the same guitar throughout a live show, Duane had his SG tuned to open E [EBEG#BE] so when he didn’t have to play slide, he could play his Les Paul in standard tuning [EADGBE].  His slide of choice was a glass Coricidin bottle that he wore on the ring finger of his fretting hand.  Such was his mastery of the slide that once he had the likes of Elmore James down, he began to emulate the blues harp of such guys as Little Walter and Junior Wells.  A great example of this is his playing on Clarence Carter’s The Road of Love, which can be found on Duane Allman: An Anthology.

The Road of Love – Clarence Carter

Duane had jammed with an acquaintance from the band The Second Coming.  His name: Berry Oakley.  Duane intended to form a trio with him, Berry and drummer Jai Johanny Johanson.  Berry didn’t want to abandon his guitar player, Dickey Betts.  Duane was open-minded.  He’d jammed with Second Coming before and liked Dickey’s playing.  When it was time for a jam, there were those four guys, then Butch Trucks showed up.  Berry and Dickey brought their keyboard player from Second Coming, Reese Wynans.  Then there were six.  The band needed a singer.  Duane knew just the guy – little brother Gregg.  Duane made the call to California, Gregg showed up, and Reese Wynans was out.  The line-up of the Allman Brothers Band was set.  After they finished a four-hour jam, Duane is reputed to have said that if anyone wanted out of his band, they’d have to fight their way out.  Nobody threw any punches that day.

The Allman Brothers Band, the band’s debut album, was released in November 1969.  It has the blueprint of what the Allman Brothers “sound” would be [but not always used] - the twin lead guitars, two drummers who complement each other, a thunderous bass player who plays like a third lead guitarist, excellent songwriting, and Gregg Allman proving he is one of the finest blues singers alive, if not of all time.  The opening track is an instrumental (?!?) take of the Spencer Davis song Don’t Want You No More.  It was something Dickey Betts brought from his previous band The Second Coming.  Who starts their debut album with an instrumental?  This announced to the world right out of the box that the Brothers would be a different kind of band playing a different kind of music.    It grabs your attention immediately, then after two and a half minutes segues into the Gregg Allman original, It’s Not My Cross to Bear.  The segue from a 4/4-time instrumental into a ¾-time blues is effortless.  It’s a five-minute slow blues executed perfectly.  Both guitarists know when to play and when to leave space.  They don’t try to break the world land speed record in notes per second in their playing.  Black Hearted Woman is another Gregg original that shows off the harmony attack of Duane and Dickey on the songs main riff.  Duane plays some snarling licks while Dickey plays the funky rhythm in the back while Gregg sings.  Duane introduces the slide on the album’s first cover, Muddy Waters’ Trouble No More.  The album ends with duo Dreams and Whipping PostDreams is a seven-minute slow blues played in ¾ time.  It’s one of those songs that doesn’t feel like it’s as long as it really is.  Words to describe Dreams:  slow, ethereal, hypnotic, hazy.  Its length is due to Duane’s extended soloing.  He starts off playing it straight, but then you can hear the exact moment when Duane starts to play the slide.  It’s at the 3:12 mark.  This is one of the few times Duane plays slide in standard tuning [the other time would be Mountain Jam].  Where Dreams is a fairly easy-going piece of music, Whipping Post is furious.  Thanks to Berry Oakley, the song has an 11/4 time signature, what some would call a modified ¾-time.  Duane and Dickey dual with their guitars, and then they harmonize the shrieking guitar climax.  On stage the it morphed into a monster that left plenty of room for exploration [see At Fillmore East].

Dreams – Allman Brothers Band

Idlewild South saw the light of day in September 1970.  Like its predecessor it contained only seven songs.  It’s not as gloomy or dark as the debut.  With one exception [the instrumental In Memory of Elizabeth Reed] the songs are shorter, more radio-friendly.  Revival is a spirited, gospel-like number written by Dickey Betts that shows the interplay of Duane’s and Dickey’s guitars.  This is what Keith Richards often describes an “an ancient form of weaving.”  They each get to play their own thing without getting in each others’ way.  One thing that is on Idlewild South that isn’t on the debut album [except for Trouble No More] is the acoustic guitar.  The first notes from Revival come from Duane strumming an acoustic.  Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’ is one of Gregg’s better blues songs.  Duane’s slide trades licks with Thom Doucette’s harp.  Duane’s playing on this song can best be described as “blistering.”  It’s even more intense on the version found on the deluxe edition of At Fillmore EastMidnight Rider is another acoustic-driven song, but there are electrics mixed in.  They produce an effect that sounds like a pedal steel guitar.  Gregg Allman wasn’t much of a country music fan, but he referred to this song as a country song, and it sounds like one.  In Memory of Elizabeth Reed is the first of many Dickey Betts-written instrumentals that takes its name from the tombstone of Elizabeth Reed Napier, who is buried at Macon’s Rose Hill Cemetery.  She’s buried near the train tracks that run along the Ocmulgee River.  Dickey named it after her because he had written the song for a lady whom he was seeing but didn’t want to reveal her identity.  The Brothers often sought musical and chemical [and sometimes carnal] inspiration from the cemetery, which wasn’t far from their original “Hippie Crash Pad.”  Elizabeth Reed had been in the works for a long time.  Dickey once said he had Miles Davis in mind when he wrote the song.  One can hear it played by the band at the Fillmore East in February 1970.  It’s a dynamic track that has lots of different movements.  Rock bands aren’t supposed to play music this complex, but the band pulls it off with ease.  Clocking in at just less than seven minutes, Elizabeth Reed is the longest song on Idlewild South.  There’s a lot of room to stretch out and jam, as demonstrated on At Fillmore East.  Berry Oakley [whom Duane once referred to as “our bad sex symbol”] contributes his one and only lead vocal to the Allman Brothers catalog with Hoochie Coochie Man.  This sounds nothing like the Muddy Waters original.  It’s ominous, brooding, and almost scary.  Duane and Dickey push each other to incredible heights, propelled by Berry’s booming bass and Jaimoe and Butch’s drumming.  Please Call Home is the slow blues of Idlewild South.  Here Duane is at his most sympathetic.  He provides an acoustic guitar that he strums along with Gregg’s piano.  Dickey provides all the electric work.  The album closes with Leave My Blues at Home.  This is the Allman Brothers at their most funky.  In that regard it’s similar to Black Hearted Woman from the first album.  I don’t know what it is about this song, but it’s one of my Top 10 ABB cuts.  It’s a great example of the twin harmonies of Duane and Dickey.  It’s very loose, with the guitarists doing a wonderful call-and-response at the very end as the song fades.

His most famous contribution as a “session” player came during the making of Derek and the Dominos’ Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.  More than just a session player, Duane was a featured special guest on the album that is Eric Clapton’s greatest musical achievement.   The musical marriage made in heaven came about by accident.  When Clapton and company began work with producer Tom Dowd on what became the Layla album, Tom Dowd received a call from Duane to let him know the Brothers were going to be in town to play a concert. When he told Clapton of the phone call, Clapton said “you mean that guy who plays on the back of Hey Jude?  I want to see him play!”  Clapton and the band showed up and watched the Brothers play.  During a solo, Duane looked down and saw Clapton at his feet and froze, probably for the only time in his career.  When Dickey Betts heard Duane stopped playing he picked up the solo where Duane left off.  When Dickey saw Clapton he turned his back so he wouldn’t freeze up as well.  After the show, Duane asked Clapton if he could watch him and his band record their album.  Clapton told him to bring his guitar – they had to play!  When asked how one can tell the difference between his and Clapton’s playing, Whenever you hear the introduction to the song Layla, think of Duane Allman.  Those first seven notes was something Duane came up with off the top of his head.  Think about that – the defining riff of Eric Clapton’s career is a Duane Allman throwaway.  That screeching slide?  Yup, that’s Duane too.  Clapton invited Duane to join Derek and the Dominos, but Duane politely declined because he couldn’t leave the Brothers.  The Layla album isn’t a Duane Allman album or an Allman Brothers album, but it is quite important in Duane Allman’s story.  He lit a fire under Eric Clapton, and each guitarist drove the other to soaring musical heights.  Duane didn’t come into the picture until the 4th song, Nobody Loves You When You’re Down and Out, and you can tell the band dials up the intensity with Duane’s presence from that point on [the album is sequenced in the order the songs were recorded, or so it’s been said].  When asked how one could tell his playing apart from Clapton’s he said the Stratocaster played by Clapton has a “sparklier sound” while his own Gibsons produced a “full-tilt screech.”  That’s playing it just a little coy, but when Layla was first remastered you could really tell the difference.  For those who don’t know the difference, Clapton is mixed to the right; Duane is mixed to the left.  In his autobiography Clapton referred to Duane as “the musical brother I’d never had but wished I did.”

Layla – Derek & the Dominos

At Fillmore East is Duane Allman’s [and the Allman Brothers Band’s] masterpiece.  Recorded over two days and four shows at New York’s Fillmore East, At Fillmore Eat [there is no “Live” in the title] captures the Allman Brothers at their best, mixing jazz, rock and blues effortlessly.  The album is a master’s class on playing the electric slide guitar.  The original album was seven songs over four sides.  The first four songs are blues [Statesboro Blues, Done Somebody Wrong, Stormy Monday, and You Don’t Love Me].  The first two are short blues number, and then they stretch out on T-Bone Walker’s Stormy MondayStormy Monday is more of a showcase for Gregg Allman’s vocals, but there is soling aplenty between Dickey, Gregg and Duane.  You Don’t Love Me takes up all of side two.  The Brothers take the Buddy Guy/Junior Wells version from 1965’s Hoodoo Man Blues and stretches it out for 19 minutes.  Duane would incorporate other songs into it, either King Curtis’ Soul Serenade or Joy to the World.  This version has Joy to the World.  After the Brothers dispense with the blues they take on the instrumentals, Hot ‘Lanta and In Memory of Elizabeth ReedHot ‘Lanta evolved from a jam, hence the songwriting credit to everyone in the band.  Compared to most of the album, it’s a short five minutes.  There is no studio version of this song – this is it.  Elizabeth Reed is a Dickey Betts jazz-influenced tour de force original that debuted on the Brothers’ second studio album Idlewild South.  It clocks in just less than seven minutes.  But on At Fillmore East the band stretches out to thirteen minutes, and not a single note is wasted.  It opens with Dickey paying volume swells on his guitar, soon to be joined by Duane to play a double-lead melody.  Dickey takes the first solo, Gregg plays an organ solo, and then Duane plays his solo that launches the band into the stratosphere.  He starts out quietly, builds to one climax, cools off a bit, and then launches again into a furious peak.  This is Duane Allman channeling John Coltrane and Miles Davis from Kind of Blue.  If I was to pick one Allman Brothers song that captures their essence, this cut from At Fillmore East would be it.  Where other bands would play songs to extraordinary lengths [like Cream or the Grateful Dead], the Allman Brothers’ excursions into otherworldly improvisation were not exercises in self-indulgent solos for the sake of soloing.  These guys would play with the skill of jazz musicians with the aggression of rockers.  These guys wouldn’t repeat anything.  Just when you thought they’ve said everything they’ve got to say on Elizabeth Reed, they follow that with a 23-minute version of Whipping Post.  Like on Elizabeth Reed, nothing is wasted on Whipping Post.  After the song reaches its apocalyptic conclusion you can hear the faints strains of what comes next during the fade out, the monolithic Mountain Jam [to be released on the next album, Eat a Peach].  At Fillmore East is one of my “desert island discs.”

In Memory of Elizabeth Reed – Allman Brothers Band

Eat a Peach was the album the Brothers were working on when Duane died.  Three sides contain music recorded with Duane, including some material left off At Fillmore EastMountain Jam, the beginnings of which you can hear at the end of Whipping Post on At Fillmore East, takes up two whole sides of Eat a Peach.  The fourth side is three songs by the remaining Brothers after Duane’s death.  The Elmore James/Sonny Boy Williamson blues One Way Out is the song that got me hooked on the Allman Brothers in the first place. Dickey starts the song with the main riff, and then Duane joins on slide playing an octave above Dickey.  When it comes to the solos, Dickey takes the first solo and is absolutely smokin’!  After the drum break Dickey and Duane do a call-and-response, followed by Duane launching himself into the stratosphere once more.  Trouble No More, the first song the Allman Brothers Band ever played together, follows One Way Out.  On Stand Back Duane shows his ability to make his slide guitar sound like a horn section.   Blue Sky is Dickey Betts’ first lead vocal on an Allman Brothers album.   This song is almost straight-up country, a departure from the hard blues, rock and jazz sounds favored on earlier albums.  But this direction is no problem for Duane.  At the 2:38 mark Dickey takes the lead from Duane.  It never ceases to amaze me the ease with which Duane and Dickey could switch roles from lead to rhythm.  Their transitions from one role to the other were always flawlessly executed.  Little Martha closes out Eat a Peach.  It shows the rarely-seen soft acoustic side of Duane Allman.  An ode to his girlfriend Dixie, it is the only song credited to Duane Allman as the only songwriter.  It came to him in a dream.  In the dream Jimi Hendrix showed him how to play it on a bathroom faucet.  It’s just Duane and Dickey playing acoustic guitars as if they were sitting on your front porch.  For those who play guitar, Duane’s guitar is tuned to E.  If you try to play it in standard tuning it will drive you crazy.  It is a short but beautiful song.  Every Allman Brothers performance ends with Little Martha playing on the PA.  When you hear that song, you know the show is over. 

For the record, a peach truck did not kill Duane Allman.  On the evening of October 29, 1971, he was riding his motorcycle down Hillcrest Dr in Macon when a flatbed truck that was hauling lumber [coming from the opposite direction] turned in front of him and stopped.  He swerved to go around the truck, but he struck the back of the truck.  He came off the bike, the bike flipped in the air and landed on him.  This caused massive internal injuries.  He lived for three hours but died on the operating table as doctors worked to save him.   The name for the Eat a Peach album came from a quip Duane made in a magazine shortly before his death.  When the interviewer asked him what he does for “the revolution,” he responded "There ain't no revolution, it's evolution, but every time I'm in Georgia I eat a peach for peace."  In a cruel twist, the success Duane had worked hard to achieve was just within his grasp.  The week he died At Fillmore East was certified Gold.

Duane penned his own epitaph.  Inscribed on his grave, it says:  I love being alive and I will be the best man I possibly can.  I will take love wherever I find it and offer it to everyone who will take it…Seek knowledge from those wiser…and teach those who wish to learn from me….  In my travels I have often been to Duane’s gravesite.  It’s at Rose Hill Cemetery in Macon, Georgia.  Bassist Berry Oakley is buried beside him.  One used to be able to leave things…a guitar pick, a rose, whatever one wanted to leave there.  Unfortunately the graves were open to vandals as well.  There were times when I saw someone had drawn graffiti on the graves, so Berry Oakley’s sister Candace had an iron fence built around them.  You can still look but you can no longer touch.

It is a testament to Duane Allman’s stature as the leader of the band and as an iconic guitarist that the Brothers chose not to replace him.  In the aftermath of his death, the remaining Allman Brothers Band members recorded and toured as a five-piece.  Dickey Betts carried all the guitar weight himself.  Gregg and bassist Berry Oakley stepped up to fill the sonic hole left by Duane’s absence.  The five-man band continued for a year until they decided to go an entirely different instrumental direction.  They added pianist Chuck Leavell, who had been working on Gregg’s album Laid Back.  The Allman Brothers would not add another guitarist to the band until 1978, when they made the album Enlightened Rogues.

In 2009 was the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Allman Brothers Band, and they dedicated their annual Beacon Theatre run [and the entire 2009 tour] to the life and music of Duane Allman.  The band invited everybody who played with Duane or wanted to pay tribute to Duane, and almost everybody [except Dickey Betts] showed up and played.  The guests are a who’s who of rock and blues:  Taj Mahal and Levon Helm [3/9/09]; Johnny Winter [3/10/09]; Buddy Guy [3/12/09]; Boz Scaggs [3/13/09]; John Hammond [3/16/09]; Tommy Talton & Scott Boyer (Cowboy) [3/17/09];  Eric Clapton [3/19/09 & 3/20/09]; Bruce Hornsby [3/21/09]; King Curtis’ Kingpins [Jerry Jemmott - bass, Bernard Purdie - drums and Jimmy Smith – keys – 3/23/09]; Billy Gibbons & Thom Doucette [3/24/09]; Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, & Chuck Leavell [3/28/09].  Several of the shows began with Duane’s Little Martha, whether it’s a Warren Haynes/Derek Trucks duet, or an Oteil Burbridge bass solo.

At the funeral, Jerry Wexler eulogized Duane by saying, Those of us who were privileged to know Duane will remember him from all the studios, backstage dressing rooms, the Downtowners, the Holiday Inns, the Sheratons, the late nights, relaxing after the sessions, the whisky and the music talk, playing back cassettes until night gave way to dawn, the meals and the pool games, and fishing in Miami and Long Island, this young beautiful man, who we love so dearly but who is not lost to us, because we have his music, and the music is imperishable."

Indeed.  Wherever I am, Duane Allman’s music travels with me.

Selected discography:
The Allman Brothers Band
Idlewild South
At Fillmore East [Deluxe Version]
Eat a Peach
Live at the Atlanta International Pop Festival
Live at Ludlow Garage
Fillmore East Feb 70
American University, Washington DC 12/13/70
S.U.N.Y. at Stonybrook 9/19/71
Duane Allman: An Anthology
Duane Allman: An Anthology Vol. 2

Derek & the Dominos - Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs
John Hammond – Southern Fried
Boz Scaggs – Boz Scaggs
Johnny Jenkins – Ton-Ton Macoute!
Delaney & Bonnie – To Bonnie From Delaney
Delaney & Bonnie – Motel Shot
Wilson Pickett – Hey Jude
King Curtis – Instant Groove

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Gregg Allman & Friends - Jan 10, 2012, Pensacola, Fla

Of all the people I’ve seen in concert, I’ve seen Gregg Allman the most.  I saw him six times in the 1990s with the Allman Brothers Band, and now four times with Gregg Allman & Friends.    Carol and I first saw him in Pueblo, Colorado the day after we got married in 1987.  He was on tour promoting his then-new album, I’m No Angel.  He opened for Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble.  This is the first time I took my kids to a concert.  My oldest son Greg has actually heard Gregg Allman before.  Carol was six-months pregnant with him when we saw Gregg at The Boathouse in Norfolk, Virginia in late 1995.  And now fifteen years later Greg got to actually see him in person.  Since both Greg and Mark were little kids they’ve been exposed to the Allman Brothers Band, and unlike other kids they actually like the music their parents listen to.  I thought this would be the time for them to go to their first concert.  They liked what they saw, liked what they heard and had a good time.  It wasn’t too loud and didn’t destroy their hearing.  It’s good to see Gregg in a setting that doesn’t demand high-volume guitar heroics

The venue for the evening’s festivities was the Saenger Theatre in Pensacola.  It’s an old Spanish Baroque/Rococo style theater that first opened its doors in 1925.  It hosted Vaudeville-type road shows, Broadway plays, and silent screen classics. During World War II it stayed open constantly to show news reels from the war.  Later years saw use as a movie house until 1975 when age caught up with it. It fell into disrepair and closed.  That same year the theater was donated to the city of Pensacola as a cultural arts center.  Both the city of Pensacola and the University of West Florida restored the theater in a joint effort.  The restoration took four years and $15 million dollars, and the theater reopened in 1981.  Today it’s on the National Registry of Historical Sites.  I have but one complaint.  The seating isn’t meant for tall people or large people.  One gets the feeling of sitting in coach on a cross-country flight.  But that is a minor complaint.  With a capacity of 2,250, it’s a cozy little place to see concerts.  We saw Peter Frampton there last October.  It’s a little smaller than New York’s Beacon Theatre, where the Allman Brothers play a multi-night stand every March [the real “March Madness” if you ask me and other Peacheads].

Jaimoe’s Jassz Band opened the show with a pretty good set.  They played selections from their new CD Renaissance Man.  I recognized all of two songs: Leaving Trunk and Rainy Night in Georgia. I wasn’t sure what to expect except to hear jazz.  I’m not a jazz person.  The closest I get to liking jazz is the improvisational music played by the Allman Brothers Band.  But when I see a band that says they play jazz, I thought that’s all I would hear.  I was pleasantly surprised when the music Jaimoe and his band ranged from jazz to R&B, blues and soul.  Another pleasant surprise was Junior Mack.  He played guitar and sang.  I’d heard of Junior Mack but I’d never heard any of his music.  I know he’s sat in from time to time with the Allman Brothers Band, but that’s the only connection I had with him.  After his performance in Pensacola I’d like to find anything else that bears his name.  He’s a very good guitarist and an even better singer.  A note of humor – after Jaimoe introduced the members of his band, someone in the audience shouted out “who are you?”  Jaimoe smiled and said “I’m Johanny Johanson from Gulfport, Mississippi.

Jaimoe's Jassz Band (Picture courtesy of Slyckyr, Allman Brothers Band web forum)

After a fifteen minute break to get the instruments in place, Gregg Allman & Friends took the stage.  The big surprise of the evening for me was hearing Please Call Home.  In all the times I’ve seen Gregg Allman, this was the first time I heard that song live.  It was the Laid Back version, not the Idlewild South version.  I’d seen from setlists of previous shows from this tour and I noticed the show we saw was one of the very few where he played it.  In other shows on this tour he played Just Another Rider.  We didn’t hear that, nor did we hear Midnight Rider.  Midnight Rider wasn’t missed since I’ve heard it live many times before, but I was looking forward to hearing Just Another Rider.  I think he’s past the stage of promoting his latest album, Low Country Blues.  He’s digging deeper into his back catalog.  But I got to hear Please Call Home, so that made up for it.  Another surprise was the number of Allman Brothers songs in his set.  About half the songs his set was ABB songs.  Dreams and Wasted Words were especially good.  It was good to hear Dreams without a screaming guitar.  Scott Sharrard is a fine player, and he didn’t feel the need to go balls-to-the-wall like Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes or Dickey Betts would in an ABB setting.  Hearing Wasted Words live during this show was another first for me.  I’d always wanted to hear These Days and Melissa in the same show, and I finally got my wish.  We got to hear Jay Collins play the flute on Melissa. I wasn’t sure how a flute would work with Gregg Allman’s music, but it di and very well. When the band played Ridin’ Thumb, I didn’t recognize it.  I pride myself in knowing Gregg’s music inside and out, but this one stumped me.  I had to look it up when I got home.  It’s a song written by Jimmy Seals [of Seals and Crofts fame] that had been covered by the likes of Ray Charles, King Curtis, and Three Dog Night.  When I found that Ray Charles had done it, it’s inclusion in Gregg’s set made perfect sense.  I would love to have heard Queen of Hearts from Laid Back, but on this night it was not to be.  Gregg’s rendition of Whipping Post was the Searching for Simplicity arrangement, not the jam monolith from the first ABB album.

Gregg was in very fine voice.  He reaffirmed why he is my favorite singer.  Considering that he had liver cancer and had a liver transplant two years ago, he’s holding up very well.  When I first saw him he was 39 years old.  Now he’s 64 (!).  He spent most of the evening behind his Hammond B-3 organ, but he’d play the acoustic guitar on some songs [These Days, Melissa, Floating Bridge], a Fender Stratocaster on others [I Can’t Be Satisfied, Whipping Post, One Way Out].  It must be hell to be talented.

The setlist:
I’m No Angel / Statesboro Blues / Please Call Home / I Can’t Be Satisfied / Ridin’ Thumb / You Must Be Crazy [Floyd Miles] / These Days / Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’ / Dreams / Wasted Words / Melissa / Going Back To Daytona [Floyd Miles] / Just Before the Bullets Fly / Whipping Post

Floating Bridge / One Way Out

The band:
Gregg Allman – vocals, Hammond B-3, acoustic and electric guitar
Floyd Miles – vocals, percussion
Scott Sharrard – guitars
Bruce Katz – keyboards
Jay Collins – saxophones, flute
Jerry Jemmott – bass
Steve Potts - drums

Gregg Allman & Friends (Picture courtesy of Slyckyr, Allman Brothers Band web forum)

Gregg Allman & Friends (Picture courtesy of Slyckyr, Allman Brothers Band web forum)

Not all of the entertainment came from the stage.   We sat up in the balcony, about six rows back.  There’s a small half-wall between the first three rows and the rest of the balcony seats.  A guy who sat three rows in front of us and had way too much to drink, and during one of the songs he jumped over the wall and stating to pretend to play piano on the half-wall.  In his mind he was Jerry Lee Lewis.  He was fun to watch.  Too bad the light wasn’t good enough for me to film him.  Otherwise I’d post it here.  I was highly amused.  There weren’t any twirlers though…I guess they only go to Allman Brothers shows.

All things considered [to borrow a phrase], it was an excellent show. I’m especially glad my boys went with us.  They got to see real musicians play real music that means so much to many people.  Gregg Allman has a knack for taking old songs, re-arranging them and making them sound fresh.  I hope that someday soon Gregg will see fit to record another album and that he will stop by Pensacola again.

Thanks to Slyckyr, a "Peach Pro" from the Allman Brothers Band website forum for allowing me to use his pictures.  He was at the same show but took better pictures than I did.