40 years of The Allman Brothers Band

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The Allman Brothers Band is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, and next week the band takes over the Beacon Theatre for its annual run.  To mark the momentous occasion, Honest Tune is running a retrospective of the band, with interviews of artists, features, and an overall synopsis of what the band means to our music landscape.

Stay tuned and check back each day as we add new content!

03.09: Southern Rock Revival, part 2 – Benji Shanks

03.05: Southern Rock Revival, part 1 – Old Union

03.04: "40 Years of Unrelenting Music"

03.03: Jeff Mosier mp3 interview, plus new artist additions

03.02: Jimmy Herring feature interview, + thoughts from a few musicians

 

Benji Shanks: At the crossroads of Southern rock and stardom

By: Fred adams 

In the early 1970s, the Allman Brothers Band dueling lead guitars of Duane Allman and Dickey Betts became the model for virtually every dual-led guitar group that would follow.  Each a powerful force with guitar in hand, together these two legendary players helped mold what would become known as Southern Rock, a powerful form of blues-based rock-n-roll that has proven to be one of the most consistent sounds of the South for the past four decades.

Over the years, many great guitarists have arisen from the south, including the current day Allman Brothers, featuring (new) guitarist, Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes.  Outside of the Allman Brothers circle, there hails another young guitar slinger by the name of Benji Shanks.  An unassuming, quiet force from Northern Georgia, over the past few years Shanks has come to be known as a frequent guest performer with many of the region’s best bands.

While there are many great guitar players carrying the cross of Southern rock, there are few as good as Benji Shanks.  Honest Tune had the opportunity to speak with Benji last week during the early stages of a three week road trip with Outformation:

Honest Tune: When did you start playing guitar, Benji?

Benji: I started playing guitar when I was 13 years old. I started taking guitar lessons, and then I joined a band.  My first gig was in Rome (GA) when I was 15 with a bunch of guys that seemed really old to me.  I was in ninth grade and these guys were like juniors and seniors in high school.  The name of that band was called Spit Shine.  We were just a young, little, fledgling punk rock band.  I played in another band in high school with some friends from another school across town, but we never even developed a name.

When I graduated, I went to college in Rome.   My first year there, I started playing with a local cover band with some older guys.  That was when I learned to play with real musicians, better musicians than I had been playing with previously. That was when I really started to develop my song catalog.

HT: Did you continue taking lessons through that time, or once you got going, did you pretty much just figure it out and become self-taught from there?

Benji: I took some lessons, then quit, and then started taking again, them from a guy that was teaching at the local music store.  He was a more of an advanced player than my original teacher was.  He was also a songwriter and live musician, so as his student load got busy, he allowed me to start teaching the two days a week that he didn’t teach, with his beginner students.  Going over the basic rudiments, (of playing guitar) over and over with these kids really helped to install a foundation within me.  I taught while I was in Rome for about four or five years.

HT: Was it during that time that you first got Capt. Soularcat together? 

Benji: No, that‘s when I met Scott (Warren, songwriter, bassist and vocalist for Capt. Soularcat), in late 1997.  Scott and I started playing together around Rome, and he is my biggest musical influence. Without him, had he not been in my life, I probably would not have wound up doing what I’m doing now.  I always look to him as the one that originally fueled that fire. He will always be like a source of inspiration.

I was always real timid and shy to get out in front of people, and Scott was the one guy in Rome I knew that played music for a living.  He and I started together just playing guitar.  Scott is a damn fine guitar player, but he started playing bass until we could find a drummer, and then we got a keyboard player.  We have been through a number of personnel changes over the past, but my relationship with Scott is one that will remain as long as he and I are alive.

We became Capt. Soularcat in August 2000 and started touring heavily in 2003.  Our first full-length CD was called Three Rivers Point. We had other demos and other stuff we had done, but we consider that our debut.  Last year, we released The Rise, and would I love to see us do more albums in the future.  I don’t see that as something that’s ever going to go away.  We toured through the end of 2006, until I went out on the road with The Black Crowes.

HT: Tell us some about your time on the road with The Crowes?

Benji: Jimmy Herring’s guitar tech, Eric Predo, has been a long-time friend of mine, and he helped me score the summer job with the Crowes.  I received a great education being on the road with them, something that you can’t get anywhere else other than going out and being on the road and doing it. Things like your stage etiquette, the people that you work with, being a crew member you learn to appreciate those guys that help the band do things like make the stage on time to play and you appreciate the hard work the other guys put into the show that aren’t actually the ones on stage.

benji_and_jb.jpgHT: Speaking of Jimmy, I know you two have become friends over the past few years.  That led to you playing with (Widespread) Panic last summer, right?

Benji: I just went to Knoxville to visit and check out the shows. I love to hear Jimmy Herring play guitar. The second night up there, they had a song called “Ophelia” in their set list, which ironically enough I played with the Last Waltz.  So they asked, “Would you like to do this tune?”  It was early in the set, but it was a whole lot of fun.  

A lot of people have asked if that was the biggest crowd I’ve played to, and while it was not necessarily so in terms of the number of people there,  in terms of the energy that you felt when you walked out on that stage, I’ve never felt that kind of energy before playing in front of a crowd of people.  It was a small room, but that feeling, that kind of energy was something else.

HT:  Jimmy also helped you land the gig in the Bahamas, right?

Benji: It was actually on Nassau Island.  Jimmy was asked to do the show and when he couldn’t make it, and recommended me as a replacement.  It was a birthday party for a guy and his wife and they had hired several people to be in the band, and they another guitar player to join Eric McFadden. That was a really good time, a lot of fun.  It was almost like a vacation gig.  Getting to play with Chuck Leavell and other people that I grew up listening to, like Butch Trucks and Bill Kruetzman, was really special.  It was only the second time ever, that I am aware of, that Butch and Billy shared the stage together.

Franklin’s ToweR

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HT: That was also when you got to know Jerry Joseph, right?

BENJI: That’s for sure. What I took at from that gig, more than anything else, is my friendship with Jerry Joseph.  On Sunday night after the party, which was on Saturday, the people that were still there wanted to have fun after dinner, so they set up Jerry and his drummer, Steve (Drizos) to play on this guy’s back porch, a picturesque place overlooking the water.  Jerry asked me to jam with them that night, and then I played a few more shows with him over the summer.

HT: You and I started hanging out back when you played a lot of shows with Tishamingo.  What’s what were some of your favorite moments playing with those guys?

Benji:  All of them, really.  The first time I played with them was at Smith’s Olde Bar.  Gaurav (Malhotra), the percussion player for Soularcat, had talked to Richard  (Proctor, Tishamingo drummer) on the phone and sort of invited the two of us down to the show.  When we got there, everybody was like, “Who are these guys?” and we were all sort of sizing each other one up, you know how those guys are.  We became instant friends after that.

It was always a treat to play with them at Down on the Farm, and the weekend Bill McKay (Leftover Salmon) came to play piano with them up at Smiths for the weekend was really fun too.

Ain’t Got Time

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HT: You spent much of last year on the road with The Last Waltz Ensemble.  Do you have future plans with them? 

Benji:   I had been playing with them a lot until the point that I started playing with Outformation. But I look forward to coming home in April and doing the Smith’s Olde Bar show with them and doing any other shows that my schedule allows me to do.  I don’t want to get trapped and spread myself too thin, but I also want to take advantage of the unique and different opportunities that have been presented to me.  You know, you only live once.

I wish I could foresee the future, but at this point, I’m taking it day by day. The times are different, the economy’s changed, and you got to do what you can.  I’m not looking to strike it out big or anything like that, I just want to be able to get by and, make my living as a musician and a guitar player.

HT: How has the new gig with Outformation been going? 

Benji: Last weekend, we played at the JB and Friends benefit at the House of Blues and it went over great.  During JB’s set, it was just Sam and JB.  And it was really interesting to hear JB reinterpret some of his material and play some of the different stuff that he does with the sound Sam brings on the guitar. It’s almost haunting.  They did some of Mikey’s (Houser) material, like “Can’t Change the Past,” and I think people dug that more than the Outformation set.  JB also came out and did the last three songs with us, a Neil Young song, “On the Beach,” “Presence of the Lord,” and then  “Rockin’ in the Free World.”  That was a lot of fun. And for the guys from Outformation, being the Panic fans that they are, it was a special treat for them; they still haven’t come down from that.

We are on the road now for three weeks playing with Tea Leaf Green.  The tour is going well.  The sound of the band has definitely changed.  Not in a weird way or a bad way, it’s just the fact that they’ve gone from having a hell of a keyboard player and a hell of a singer, to having two guitar players.  There couldn’t be two different guitar players on the planet any more different than Sam and I.  It’s given me an opportunity to really play a lot of rhythm guitar and a lot of different stuff that I enjoy that I haven’t been in a position to do with other bands. I play some rhythm with all the bands I play with, especially when the singer starts singing. One of the best lesson I learned when I was a kid back in Rome was, when  a guy in the band turned to me and said, “Look, you need to quit playing over the singer.”  I carried that with me.  You’ve got to learn to be part of the band, part of the song.  You know, I love to jam, but I’m also all about the element of the song, as well.

That’s what I like so much about playing with Justin Brogdon. To me, he hands down, writes some of the most awesome material that lets me, as a rock guitar player, play both rhythm and lead, because it’s all such beautiful stuff.{mospagebreak} 


"Rock-Rock: The Allman Brothers Band musical Legacy"

By: Tim Newby 

Gregg Allman once said, “Rock n’ Roll was pretty much born in the south, so was the blues, or at least a certain kind of blues. So saying Southern Rock is like saying Rock- Rock.”

While there were deep southern rock based roots before the Allman Brothers Band existed, and bands that toyed around with that roots-rock sound (Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Band), that feeling, that spirit, that soul that we associate with that Southern Rock or Rock-Rock sound was born in the heat and humidity of Florida and Georgia.  As the newly formed Allman Brothers Band looked to find their place in the musical landscape, they incorporated the sounds they found around them in their home in the south, blues, country music, and rock n’ roll, but added an edge and attitude to it that gave it an aggressive sheen.  They also looked to influences outside their region, and combined it with their love of playing live.  Drummer Butch Trucks recalls, “The way we evolved was instrumentally with the jams.  We would do a lot of jamming.  We would set up and play, and play, and play.  And then we would listen to what he had done, and then go listen to Miles Davis and John Coltrane and all the old blues cats, Robert Johnson and those guys.  That’s were it came from.”

This new sound came to define a region, and provide an identity to many other bands that followed on the wide path that the Allman Brothers Band blazed.  The Marshall Tucker Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Charlie Daniels, The Outlaws, Molly Hatchet, .38 Special, and many others carried the Southern Rock torch brightly through the 1970s and into the 80s. 

As the Allman Brothers broke up for a brief period during the 80s, so did it seem that the torch of Southern Rock started to dim.  But soon a trio of Georgia bands, Widespread Panic, Bloodkin, and the Black Crowes, rekindled the still smoldering embers with their fresh, youthful approach to the Rock-Rock sound.  The Allman Brothers reformed around the same time and a rebirth of Southern Rock was well under way.  This revival saw the birth of Gov’t Mule, the North Mississippi All-Stars, and the Drive By Truckers.  In the wake of this revival, a slew of young bands led by Atlanta, Georgia’s Outformation and Athens, Georgia’s Tishamingo began to emerge, leading a wave of new southern talent that harkened back to the soul and spirit of the Allman Brothers.

For every band that has twin lead guitars, or adds a bit of country to their rock n’ roll or has Georgia clay between their toes, they can trace their musical heritage back to the Allman Brothers.  The Allmans have been blazing their path for forty-years, playing what Gregg Allman called “rock-rock”, and many have followed in their huge footsteps. 

The flame they ignited so many years ago still burns brightly. 

Old Union
Nashville, TN

photos by Brad Hodge

old.u_johnny.neel.1.lr.jpgAs part of a young crop of new bands that are keeping the Southern-Rock sound alive, Old Union trot out their twin guitar attack of Johnny Zvolensky and Steve Swertfeger that provides so much of the punch of their sound (keeping alive the long tradition of dueling guitar leads from southern bands).  Keyboardist Chuck Foster’s distinct emotive voice that is filled with a gut-wrenching howl is reminiscent of early Gregg Allman and provides the soul and passion, while the angry undercurrent of a murky rhythm bleeds through as drummer David Bryndal and bassist Jason Williams bash away building the foundation over which the rest of the band goes to work over.

Formed in 2001 in Nashville, TN, Old Union quickly built its reputation as one of the hardest working bands as they toured non-stop across the country.  But it was the blistering live sets in their hometown club shows that truly cemented their path as they garnered much deserved respect and admiration not only from fans, but also from the many musicians who frequented their Nashville shows. 

old.u.2.lr.jpgOn any given night their local shows would turn into a who’s who of rock superstars as any one from Steve Cropper, Jack Pearson, Jimmy Hall, and Bonnie Bramlett would stop by to sit-in and lend a hand to the young Nashville band.  Bramlett, who has been a long time supporter, took a special liking to the band and invited them to be her backing band on many occasions including a brief Bramlett/ Old Union tour of the Northeast.      

Despite being known for their intense live sets and adventurous risk-taking jams, Old Union is not a one-dimensional band who is only capable of bringing the heat on stage.  As hard as they work on stage they focus even more on their songwriting and lyrics, Zvolensky says, “We want to stress that we are primarily a lyric-orientated band, whose strength is our live chemistry and energy to deliver the tune.”      

 They released their debut album, the well-received Forgiveness & Permission in 2003.  This was followed in 2006 with their DVD Live from Exit In, which captures the band in their true element live and on stage with help from friends 8 Mile.  Their most recent studio album is 2007’s stunning Motels & Highways, a gritty road trip that cemented their place in the Southern Rock pantheon.  The album is a nod to their past and influences, as legends Charlie Daniels and Allman Brother associate Johnny Neel guest through out the album.  Motels & Highways continues with what guitarist Zvolensky says is the band’s blueprint for making music, “placing an emphasis on song structure around lyrics and stressing that everything we do is from the soul, with us always striving to offer an honest tune.”{mospagebreak}
  

 

“Forty-Years of Unrelenting Music”

  By: Tim Newby w/ John Skozilas / photos by Josh Mintz

Forty-years ago, a younger brother went to visit his older sibling who was home sick.  The younger brother had brought a few gifts along to help cheer up his ailing brother – a bottle of Coricidin pills, and bluesman Taj Mahal’s first album. 

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Gregg Allman, 3/25/06, Beacon Theatre

A few hours after dropping off his gifts, the younger brother received an excited phone call from his older brother imploring him to come back over and see what he had done.  Gregg Allman rushed back to his brother Duane’s side, and discovered that he had emptied out the pills from the Coricidin bottle and was using it as a slide to play “Statesboro Blues,” an old Blind Willie McTell tune that Mahal covered on his album.  Using the empty Coricidin bottle, Duane was emulating the slide playing that gave the old blues standard its distinct feel.

It was from that moment of discovery, on that day over forty years ago, that the seeds of what would become the defining sound of a band were first born.

The Allman Brothers Band formed shortly after that day and went on to reinvent rock ‘n’ roll around their own Southern roots – bringing elements of country music, blues, and rock and channeling it through Duane’s guitar.  They rose to fame with the release of the career-defining live album At Fillmore East and Eat a Peach (actually released shortly after the death of Duane), only to see it nearly come to a premature end with the untimely death of Duane and bassist Berry Oakley, both in motorcycle accidents a year apart in the same neighborhood, mere blocks from each other.

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Butch Trucks, 3/25/06, Beacon Theatre

The band soldiered on despite their loss for the next decade – breaking up and reuniting multiple times.  Through this time they had moments of pure greatness – the Dickey Betts-dominated Brothers & Sisters, “High Falls” from Win, Lose, or Draw, “Crazy Love” from Enlightened Rogues, but they also had some painfully low moments.

The band eventually dissolved amidst infighting and mistrust for good in 1982.  Both Allman and Betts formed solo bands and headed out on the road.  They each achieved moderate success, but nothing compared to what they had done together.

In 1986 they got back together to play a benefit show for Bill Graham.  This proved to be the catalyst for the rebirth of the Allmans.  Allman and Betts’ solo bands toured together over the next year.  At each show both bands would play a set, followed by a night ending set of both bands playing Allman Brothers songs together. 

Eventually they decided to reform.  The original line-up returned intact, with the addition of a young guitar player from Betts’ solo band, Warren Haynes, and Allen Woody on bass rounding out the line-up.  It was this line-up that would return the Brothers back to the level of greatness that was expected from them.

This new line-up marked the start of a new-found interest in the band.  With a burgeoning jam-scene that looked to the Allmans as a founding father, The Allman Brothers Band found new lease on life and released a trio of albums to start the 1990s that could stand shoulder to shoulder with their classic albums from the past.

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Haynes, Trucks, Burbridge, 3/24/07, Beacon Theatre

Over the course of the next decade, they went through a series of line-up changes before settling on the current line-up of founding members Allman (keys), Butch Trucks (drums), Jaimoe (drums), joined by Haynes (guitar), Oteil Burbridge (bass), Marc Quinones (percussion), and Trucks’ nephew, guitar prodigy Derek Trucks who seems to channel the spirit and playing of Duane’s distinct slide guitar.  This current line-up brings new life and energy to the band, yet at the same time plays in a way that recalls and remembers those past greats they have lost.

When the Allman Brothers take the stage at the Beacon Theatre next week for the start of their annual run (March 9-28), they are going to be celebrating their forty years together as a band and honoring their late guitarist Duane “Sky Dog” Allman.  The band returns to the Beacon after missing last year’s run while Gregg Allman recovered from Hepatitis C, the first year since 1989 that the band did play at the Beacon.

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Derek Trucks, 3/23/07, Beacon Theatre

First opening in 1928, The Beacon has it roots, as many theatres of that time do, as a vaudeville hall.  The acoustics are near flawless, as the theatre was built at a time when one had to rely on the power of the performer to be heard without the luxury of any amplification.  For a band who has built their reputation on their live shows, this has proved to be the perfect environment for them to make an extended stay.

The Allmans first graced the stage at the Manhattan venue in 1989 and played their first multi-night run there in 1992, but it was not until 1996 that they established their tradition of holding an annual residency in March at the famed theatre.  Since 1989 they have played over 175 shows at the theatre.  These runs have become special affairs, with the band breaking out long forgotten songs and adding unique covers to their repertoire.  They seem to draw from everyone in the band’s widely divergent backgrounds when choosing covers for their residency.  In 2007 the range of artists covered included Van Morrison, Willie Dixon, Miles Davis, The Band, Jimi Hendrix, Dr. John, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, and Stevie Ray Vaughn.  During their stay they also take time to include friends and family in the party, with Beacon runs becoming guest-laden affairs.

This year’s run will be no different.  With this being the fortieth anniversary and a tribute to Duane, the band is as Derek Trucks says, “Calling in all the favors we have and all the friends Duane played with over the years.”  Drummer Butch Trucks has been dropping hints as to who some of the guests might be, “There will be guests that did not play with Duane.  We are also including those that were influenced by him as well.”

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Allman Brothers Band, 3/24/07, Beacon Theatre 

As the dates draw nearer some of the names and rumors of who may play have started to become clearer.  It has recently been confirmed that members of The Dead will show up near the end of the run, though exact dates have not been announced, nor has who will show up (though speculation has it that it will be Phil Lesh and Bob Weir.)  Aretha Franklin (Duane played on her albums This Girl’s In Love With You & Spirit in the Dark) has been confirmed and will sing "The Weight" – though when she will appear is unknown.  Also Gary Rossington (Lynyrd Skynrd), Jimmy Hall, and Paul Riddle have been confirmed, but no dates annouced for them eiither.  Boz Scaggs, who Duane also played sessions for, has been rumored (he has March 12 at The Beacon Theatre listed under tour dates on his myspace page.)

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Allman Brothers Band, 3/24/07, Beacon Theatre

A rehearsal clip of the band working their way through Dave Mason’s “Only You Know and I Know” online has led to speculation that he may join in at some point as well.  One-time Mason band mate Bonnie Bramlett has also been heavily rumored for an appearance early in the run.  Drummer Trucks has mentioned that they will have some of the top jazz players around join them as well, though he has been tight-lipped as to who they may be.  The list of potential guests is endless, as there seems to be a rumor about a potential sit-in from any musician who has even the vaguest connection to the Allman Brothers.

One of the biggest names floating around seems to have been confirmed.  Guitarist Eric Clapton – whose legendary album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, included Duane as a key player – looks to be all set to make a stop at the Beacon on March 19 & 20, though rumors still swirl as to what he may play once he hits the stage.

The other big name that seems to involve a lot of speculation is original guitarist Betts, who since his acrimonious split with the band in 2000 has yet to join them on stage again.  Band management denies that Betts will be joining, but Derek Trucks let slip to Hittin’ the Note Magazine that he thinks it is better that 50% that Betts will join them at the Beacon.  A quick look at Betts’ tour dates shows that he will be in the area March 10 (with a show in Wantagh, NY the day before).  His current tour dates also only run through March 21, which would open him up for the final week of Allman’s run.

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Haynes & Randolph, 3/25/06, Beacon Theatre

As for who else may join them over the next month it remains to be seen.  If their past three stays at the Beacon (2005, ’06, ’07) are any indication – everyone from Trey Anastasio, Page McConnell, Taj Mahal, Little Milton, Peter Frampton, Gary Rossington, Ben Harper, Lesile West, Rob Barraco, Robert Randolph, Col. Bruce Hampton, Luther Dickinson and many more joined in – 2009’s Peakin’ at the Beacon run will be a truly memorable event, one that honors the forty year legacy of the Allman Brothers and their legendary guitarist, a legacy that Col. Bruce Hampton calls, “forty years of unrelenting music.”

Gregg Allman summed up their plans simply in a recent interview with Billboard: “I’d love to tell you what we have planned. But it’s just kick-ass, that’s all I can tell you.” {mospagebreak}

 Blueground Undergrass's Jeff Mosier talks Allman Brothers

The Reverend Jeff Mosier has been a fixture on the jam scene for years, dating back to his days in the Aquarium Rescue Unit.  Now at the helm of Blueground Undergrass, back in 1998 he got a chance to sit in with the Allman Brothers at the Fox Theatre.

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Photo: Chris Patras

Mosier took the time to record some of his thoughts about the Allman Brothers, his favorite song, what the band means to music today, and what they mean to him.  Check it out.!

Mosier talks about "Ramblin' Man"

{mp3}mosier_ramblinman{/mp3} 

Mosier talks about sitting in with the ABB, and what the band has meant to music

{mp3}mosier-v-dickey{/mp3} 

  {mospagebreak}


Ain’t But One Way Out:  Jimmy Herring on his time with the Allman Brothers

By: Fred Adams

Photos by: Josh Mintz

Twice during his virtuous career, Jimmy Herring has been asked by the Allman Brothers Band to replace Dickey Betts, the man he credits with influencing him to first pick up a guitar.  On July 31, during the 1993 H.O.R.D.E tour in Stowe, Vermont Jimmy was asked to step in for one show when Dickey was arrested earlier in the day. Seven years later, when the Brothers decided to remove Dickey permanently, Jimmy again received the call.  By that point in time, he was very familiar with the Brothers camp, having toured with drummer Butch Trucks’ side project Frogwings.

oteiljimmy_11107.jpgJimmy recalls, “At the time, when I wasn’t on the road with ARU, Derek Trucks would ask me to come play with him for a month, back when he was about fourteen. We were playing a gig in Florida and Butch came out and said he really liked the chemistry between us. (Butch) was looking at putting a band together to play some when the Allman Brothers weren’t touring, and he asked if I knew any good bass players. I said, ‘Man, I know the Michael Jordan of bass players,’ and told him about Oteil (Burbridge). Little did I know then that Oteil would wind up becoming an Allman.”

While Jimmy could never have known he was introducing Butch to the Brothers’ next bassist, he really could not imagine what would unfold next.  Having just come off the road from his first tour with Phil Lesh and Friends in April 2000, Jimmy turned down thirty-seven dates with Jazz Is Dead, and was looking forward to spending the summer at home with his family.  Four days later, his phone would ring with a call Jimmy simply could not refuse.

“The Allman Brothers called and said, ‘We’re kicking Dickey out and you’re the new guy,’” Jimmy recalls. “Butch was not going to take no for an answer. I told him, ‘Man, I can't take Dickey’s spot, he didn’t die. If he was retiring, and asked me to take his place, or if he had unfortunately passed away, then that’s one thing, but Dickey is still a vibrant, unbelievable musician, and his fans are not going to be too thrilled to see me standing there in Dickey’s place.’”

oteil_11107k.jpg“Butch said, ‘Just shut the hell up and learn the music. We have rehearsal next week. You’ve got three days of rehearsal before you hit the tour.’  I immediately called Warren Haynes and asked him what to do. He said, ‘Jimmy, that’s really weird. I’m not telling you not to do it, but the Allman Brothers without Dickey?’”

The decision was not an easy one, and Jimmy did his best to politely turn the offer down.  But the Brothers were persistent, until he finally agreed to give it a go.

“They had to talk me into it,” he says. “I told them ‘no’ for five days, and kept telling them I just couldn’t do it. But they said, ‘No, you are doing it.’ Two of my best friends were in the band in Derek and Oteil, and I knew they would help me through. I leaned on them and joined the band for a summer.”

“During that summer, I had uneasy feelings the whole time.  The press was hounding me, following the bus everywhere we went and trying to get me to say bad stuff about Dickey. I just said that Dickey Betts was the main reason that I picked up a guitar and I wasn’t about to say anything bad about him. It was just a really strange place to be because it was sort of the band that was responsible for me starting to play.”

During the tour, Jimmy’s phone started to ring once again. “Phil was calling me in my hotel room,” Jimmy says, “while I’m on Allman tour and saying, ‘Jimmy, we are starting a core band and we want you to be in it.’ I was like, ‘Wow, that’s incredible, but what do I do? I’m in the Allman Brothers.’ He goes, ‘Man, I’m so happy for you, I think it’s great that you are in the Allman Brothers, but we really need you.’ So, I had to choose between the two.”

“If anybody would have asked me whose music I enjoyed more, man, I grew up in North Carolina, I’m a southern boy, and I’ve lived in Georgia for seventeen years. The Allman Brothers are the pinnacle. That’s the stuff that is closest to my heart and was the biggest influence on me.  But, in Phil’s band, I didn’t have to replace a living legend. And Warren was in the band too, so it wasn’t like I had to replace Jerry Garcia. I talked with Derek and Oteil about it at length, and they told they wanted me to stay but they also wanted me to do what’s best for me.”

wp_070921_a.jpg“So I let them know that I was going to step down after the summer. That was all I was supposed to do to anyway. But by the middle of the summer, they had more falling out with Dickey and started telling me they wanted me to stay. I was hoping the situation with him was going to get better, but it was getting worse. I really believed with all of my heart that when I stepped down that Dickey and the band would work out their differences and it as going to be the Allman Brothers again the way it was supposed to be.”

“Then, Allen Woody passed away a week later. With me stepping down, and Allen passing away, the logical thing for them to do was to call Warren, and they did. Warren, Derek and I were all kind of passing the hat back and forth, playing both gigs, because they had both played with Phil before I did. I got the audition with Phil because of them. Most people think it was because of Jazz Is Dead, but Phil wasn’t really impressed with that band. He called me because Warren and Derek told him to.”

Jimmy would play three more shows with the Brothers, including the One for Woody concert at the Roseland Ballroom, before official stepping down permanently following the band’s performance at the Big Spring Jam in Huntsville, Alabama on September 24, 2000.  He would go on to tour with both The Other Ones and The Dead before eventually leaving Phil’s side, and has since joined Widespread Panic.  In the long run, Jimmy seems certain his decision was best for all.

“In the Allman Brothers,” he says, “I was afraid that if I stayed in their band that they would not have a future. I’m not the kind of songwriter who writes songs that Gregg is going to jump on. I knew that if Warren came in, he and Gregg have an awesome rapport. They’ve worked together for many years, they write songs together very well, and I just figured it as the best thing for the band.” {mospagebreak}

We also asked a bunch of musicians three questions:

1) What's your favorite Allman Brothers album or song?
2) What's your favorite live Allman Brothers moment, in the audience or on stage with them?
3) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you? 

We'll be adding new responses each day, so keep checking back!


 Col. Bruce Hampton (Quark alliance, aru, etc…)

col-bruce-sq.jpg1.) Favorite Allman Brothers album or song?

"Statesboro Blues," because of Duane's playing.

2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment? 

September 1969(?) at Piedmont Park, Atlanta, Georgia.

3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

Forty years of unrelenting music.

 

Eric Martinez (Bloodkin)

emart-sq.jpg1.) Favorite Allman Brothers album or song? 

Eat a Peach without a doubt. The songs are timeless and the guitar slinging that goes on is off the charts. Plus a lot of the songs are cuts from live shows and the record still has a cohesive feel. And if you are lucky enough to find a copy of the double fold out vinyl you get a really cool drawing in the fold out. 

As far as my favorite Allman’s song goes, I really dig a lot of their songs, so here are a few favorites, “Les Brers In A Minor,” “Back Where It All Begins,” “Desdemona,” “Southbound,” “Mountain Jam,” and the list goes on. 

2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment? 

My first show was at the Nissan Pavilion in Fairfax, VA in '95 or '96 and I had no idea who was playing with them at that time. Well it turned out to be Warren Haynes and Allen Woody, both of whom I had never heard play. I had never seen or heard any musician manhandle instruments like they did and every time Warren or Dickey would take a solo they would get a close up of their hands on the big screen.  It was like a three hour guitar schooling. What a show! 

3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you? 

Back in 1992 after learning to play guitar from listening to the heavy metal bands of the 80's my good buddy Dan showed up at my house with Eat A Peach. He showed me the major scale tuned on “Blue Sky” and I have never been the same since.  

 

Drew Heller (Toubab Krewe)

Toubab-Krewe-sq.jpg1.) Favorite Allman Brothers album or song?

“Dreams” is without a doubt my favorite Allman Brothers song. One of those ones I've always rewound and listened to again after it plays. Just about everything I love about music is happening in “Dreams.” It is swampy and beautiful. It takes its time to unfold and even as it does there's something abstract about the time of the song itself. The guitar lines kind of slowly drifting through clouds of organ, walking bass, cymbals and snare drums fluttering softly, and then there's that pause with the drum fills at 5:46 on the studio recording. So, so nice.

2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment? 

About 15 years ago, having just gotten our driver's licenses, some friends and I in Asheville got in a car and took what I think was my first road trip to go see live music in a different city. It was the Allman Brothers. Rock and Roll and the highway are inseparably good friends, and in my own life it was then that the two met. (Jazz Fest in New Orleans a couple of years back was my most recent show and an amazing one too.) 

3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

They are still impacting me so I am not sure exactly what to make of it.

 

George Sluppick (City Champs, Mofro, Robert Walter's 20th Congress)

george-sq.jpg1.) Favorite Allman Brothers Album/ Song?  Why? 

I would have to say, without hesitation is "Midnight Rider" and here's why…it's the first one I heard and I was instantly a fan.  The groove, the lyrics and Gregg's voice are so killin on this tune.  It was on an album that my dad bought me, back in the 70's, a compilation called The South's Greatest Hits that also had Wet Willie, Elvin Bishop, The Charlie Daniels Band, Marshall Tucker Band, Dr. John, Lynyrd Skynyrd and several others.  What a great record and I wore the hell out of ABB.  I was probably ten at that point and had been playing drums for a while already, maybe five years.  I loved westerns too and this tune definitely has that cowboy theme to it.  What a classic.  Favorite album is Eat a Peach.  Definitely.

2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment?

Well, when I was touring with JJ Grey & MOFRO, we were given the opportunity to open for ABB on several shows and it was amazing to get to sit in the wings and watch the masters at work.  Derek is a peer and we've known one another for several years, ever since my days in Robert Walter's 20th Congress and he's easily one of my favorite musicians in the world, in addition to being one of the sweetest, most genuine folks you'll ever meet.  I think that he and Warren together are a perfect match and really compliment one another so well.  Of course, as a fellow drummer, Butch and Jaimoe are so killer and really fun to watch.

My favorite live moment was during a show in Virginia Beach, at the Verizon Wireless Ampitheatre on August 12th, 2007.  I was sitting backstage during their soundcheck and noticed some crew members putting a lot of chairs on the stage, on either side of the band, then later that night was told that the folks sitting in those chairs were mostly family members and close friends.  My respect for them was increased ten-fold and I thought it was so kind of them to share with people like that and I just prayed that I would one day be able to attain that level of generosity.  Those folks seemed to be having the time of their lives sitting there on that stage, so close to the band and the music.  What a time!

3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

I have the utmost respect for them and hold them in the highest regard.  They have proven to the world that patience, perseverance and humility are good things to live by and most definitely keys to longevity in this business of music.  They are my heros.  Rock on fellas!  Much love and respect to y'all.

 

Jess Franklin  (Tishamingo)

 

jess-sq.jpg1.) Favorite Allman Brothers album or song?

 

“Dreams.”  Gregg's voice, Duane's slide. Not to mention one of the most moving songs to me in there whole catalog.  For the original record, and original cut, they sound weathered (in a great way) beyond their years!

2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment? 

Live show at High-Fi Buys Amphitheater (at that time Lakewood) with Justin Brogdon, Evan Sheward, Jeff Davis and lots of other great friends in 2000 or 20001. Not long after Derek was with them (maybe a few years).  They did a “Mountain Jam” into "Don't Keep Me Wonderin’,” as I remember it. Having shared the stage with Derek before, I realized at 20 or 21, he had once again surpassed any other guitar player I knew, in a style derived from Duane, but so very much his own!

3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

Gregg's vocals, all of the guitar players (Duane, Dickey, Jack Pearson, Jimmy Herring, Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes – obviously in no order), Chuck Leavell and Gregg on keys and organ, Oteil and all of the other great players that the Allman's have surrounded themselves with over the years.

Most of all, I love the song writing. Drawing lines perfectly between Soul, Rock, Blues, and Country. Basically inventing or at least co-inventing a style of music I can't live without. SOUTHERN ROCK!!

 

Jeff “Birddog” Lane (Outformation)

birddog-sq.jpg1.) Favorite Allman Brothers album or song?

Favorite song – “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.”  Reason: The first time I really "heard" this song was when I was 20 yrs old.  I was crossing the Sea of Cortez on a 12-hour, overbooked ferry ride from La Paz to Mazatlan.  I found a restricted staircase that led up to the roof.  I sat in the very middle and all I could see around me was infinite blue horizons in every direction. I put on my Sony Walkman tape player (the old yellow one, remember?) and it was the first song to play.  I listened to it over and over for about the next 12 hours in complete solitude, I'll never forget it.

Favorite album – At Fillmore East.  In high school I heard tales of how this show ended at sunrise.  I still don't know how true it is [ED: it is true], but I remember thinking, "Wow!  How cool would that be to jam with your band till sunrise?" True or not, 15 years later, every time my band does it I think about this album.  I also like the stories behind the album cover shots. 

2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment? 

Allman Brothers Band at Worlds Fair Park, Knoxville, TN in 1995.  I was 20. "Nobody Left To Run With Anymore.”  I had just lost a good friend and this song brought me to my knees sobbing.  Nothing had ever moved me like that at a concert before, although I was so sad, it was beautiful.

3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

As a percussionist the question is how haven't they influenced me?  Mark Quinones plays some of the most brilliant conga patterns and rhythms I've ever heard.  Bringing that drumming element to the table of southern rock/jam is what really floats my boat.  The sound jumps out at me and makes me (as a younger, aspiring musician); strive to be that tasteful and simple.  A good example is “Back Where It All Begins.” I don't care how many times I hear that song, the percussion always makes me smile.  I love it.

Long live the Allman Brothers Band!!  Thanks for everything!! 

 

Johnny Zvolensky  (Old Union)

johnny-z-sq.jpg1.) Favorite Allman Brothers album or song?

"In Memory of Elizabeth Reed." It was the first song that my band in college tried to cover from the ABB. It might as well have been an educational music class to me at the time. It taught me of those classic guitar harmonies, learning to execute those intricate sections of the song properly as well as diving into the improvised solos but making sure that you can lead the band back to the musical signposts within the song. I learned a lot from that song being a freshly imported "Northern Boy" in Southern territory. It was an essential "class" for anyone wanting to play Southern rock music.

2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment? 

My favorite ABB live show was at the Nautica Stage in Cleveland, OH, in the summer of 1998. I was up in Cleveland working for the summer and was attending Middle Tennessee State University during the school year. I had been highly influenced at the time by a local Murfreesboro blues band, The Nationals, especially by the guitarist, Jack Pearson. His playing was so inspiring that I would run home after seeing him and immediately had to play the guitar.

Anyways, I had not known that Jack had joined the Allmans for that tour and I couldn't believe it when I saw him on stage. I tried telling my friends that I saw his band every other Wednesday at The Boro Bar and Grill, but nobody believed me. It turned out to be a wonderful show and made me appreciate Tennessee and the talent that is immersed in the culture. Through recent years, we have come to be friends with Jack and had the honor of playing on stage with him, so I guess it comes full circle for me.

3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

If it weren't for the ABB, then it is hard to say that Old Union would be doing what we do. They are an influence to all the members in the band. Guitar harmonies, rhythm and lead switching between Spotty and I, are some important techniques to Old Union and what many of our fans love to hear. They are directly influenced by the ABB and others like The Charlie Daniels Band and Skynyrd. Oh, and everybody thinks Chuck Foster (lead vocalist, keys) looks like a young Greg Allman, so I guess we wouldn't have that going for us.

 

Jesse Hammock  (Shady Deal, Powder Mill)

jesse-sq.jpg1.) Favorite Allman Brothers album or Song? 

The greatest Allman Brothers Band record has got to be At Fillmore East. There are ABB records I listen to more these days, but this one got me hook, line and sinker in about 9th grade. I don't think this record would have been possible without Tom Dowd's revolutionary live recording techniques. The music itself showed the diversity of the Brothers with their mix of jazz, classical, hard rock, and blues. This album also had the original lineup of Sky Dog and Dickey. Often over looked is the stellar musicians sitting in at the live show including Thom Doucette on harp, Steve Miller on piano, Randolph Carter on sax, and even Elvin Bishop doing some vocal work. This record paved the way for bands to produce/edit/release live records. 

2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment? 

"Elizabeth Reed" w/ Dickey Betts and Duane Allman. 

3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

The ABB has not influenced my music per say because I have never played with musicians that can pull off what they do. Gregg Allman's delivery and soul-filled voice has influenced my singing. But they are musicians I prefer to listen to and not imitate. Plainly said, they are just too damn good to try and imitate. The Southern aspect of their music has influenced the direction in which I have taken my music, but a lot of that comes from where you grow up. And growing up….I listened to the ABB

 

Rob Barraco (Dark STar orchestra, Phil & Friends)

 

barraco-sq.jpg1.) Favorite Allman Brothers  song or album?

 

My favorite album is At Fillmore East. It opened my eyes to jamming possibilities even before I ever heard of the Dead.  

2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment? 

Favorite moment was sitting in with the Brothers at the Beacon and sharing Gregg's organ bench.

3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

I believe the first answer covers the third question.

 

Luke Miller (Lotus)

lukemiller-sq.jpg1) Favorite Allman Brothers Album/ Song?  Why?

My introduction to the Allman Brothers was the song "Jessica."  It had that joyful, open road, wind-in-your-hair feel that came to eptitomize my high school years.  My friend and I labored over a mix tape called Cruisin' which was kind of our personal soundtrack of all the greatest driving songs.  "Jessica" closed out the first side.

2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment (in audience or on stage w/ them)?

I grew up just down the road from Red Rocks.  Seeing the Allmans there was a beautiful thing

3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

In Lotus we do some harmonized guitar lead stuff, and that has been influenced by The Allman Brothers.  And some of our major-keyed songs like "Umbilical Moonrise," "Shimmer and Out," and "Sunrain" are influenced by songs like "Blue Sky," "Jessica," and "Melissa."

 

Ed Anderson (Backyard Tire Fire)

eanderson-sq.jpg1.) Favorite Allman Brothers album/ song?

My favorite Allman Brothers studio album would have to be Eat a Peach. Favorite tune, “Blue Sky.”  I feel like I could listen to that song for hours and not get tired of it. Dickey’s playing is on fire. It just makes me happy instantly when I hear it.

2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment? 

Favorite Brothers live stuff is that 1970 Ludlow Garage “Mountain Jam.” It's an entire disc, forty-some odd minutes of instrumental bliss. It's not quite as polished as the Fillmore, but it has a certain charm.  Berry Oakley has an exceptional evening. That man was a force of nature on bass, as was Duane on guitar. 

Favorite live moment for me was seeing them for the first time in the early 90s with Allen Woody and Warren and Dickey. That was a nasty line up.

3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

They've influenced me in numerous ways. First, hearing the Fillmore stuff was huge. That was like a bible for guitar playing. And Gregg’s vocals at that age, amazing. He's still kicking as, as are the Brothers. That's the other thing. They're still doing it. And doing it well. It’s admirable. Long live the Allman Brothers Band!

 

Sam Holt (Outformation)

 

holt-sq.jpg1.) Favorite Allman Brothers album or song?

 

Tough one.  I'd have to say “Come and Go Blues.” There's something about hearing Gregg and that acoustic tuned to open G that speaks to me. 

2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment? 

The first time I saw them was Lakewood in the fall of '90. I was very young and very high and we were up close. Allen Woody blew my head off and I'll never forget it. It was one of those 'before and after' experiences. 

3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

When I was working for Widespread Panic and we lost Mike [Houser] there was somewhat of a parallel with the tragedies that the ABB endured. They persevered and triumphed after such a tremendous loss. When I hear “Aint Wastin’ Time No More”, it reminds me that playing music is probably the most important thing I can do.

 

Jeff Miller (New Monsoon)

jmiller-sq.jpg1.) Favorite Allman Brothers Album/ Song? 

Well, this is a multi-faceted answer for me. “Whipping Post” was definitely the song that hooked me when I was a kid. My mom had At Fillmore East on vinyl and let me play it REALLY loud! Thanks Mom.  As I got older, different songs have had different significance in my life. “Dreams” recently has been my quintessential tune. The vibe and guitar tones of the original studio version give me chills every time…And then there are all the other tunes I love. 

2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment?  

I saw them in Boston years ago with Dickey and Warren on guitar and the version of “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” just slayed me.

Another moment was when we were playing at their fest at the Suwannee grounds in Florida and got to stand on stage during the show. I was watching Gregg from about 10 feet away! 

3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

It's hard to qualify exactly how the ABB's music has impacted my/our music, other than to say that I grew up with it and it seeped in. When you are a kid, you gravitate to sounds, sights, etc that make you happy or feel something that you can't explain, but you like it. As I got older and learned guitar, my appreciation for the guitar playing just furthered my love of the music. Now, having covered several different tunes of theirs live, I can say that they set the bar. I just try to show what I've learned! 

   

Chris Combs (Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey)

jfjo-sq.jpg1.) Favorite Allman Brothers album or song?

“In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” from At Fillmore East.  The dual guitar work is totally classic.  They were listening to Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" non-stop at that time and you can really hear that album's influence in this track. 

2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment? 

At Fillmore East is my favorite live Allman Brothers 

3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

Duane Allman's and Derek Trucks' slide work has been a huge influence on me.  The original lineup is really my favorite.  I love how languid and expressive their improvisations were.  I definitely feel and attempt to channel Duane's influence when I play lap steel.

 

BillY Iuso (Restless Natives)

iuso-sq.jpg1.) Favorite Allman Brothers Album/ Song? Why?
Eat a Peach – love the cover art.  I'm old enough to have had the ALBUM.  As for song – "Melissa,"  My sister was Named after it.  My Dad is a big fan also.

2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment?

All.  They have never disappointed me live  …But of course Jazz Fest a few years back was sweet…

3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

 Gregg's voice and the intensity of his voice – I've tried to mimic him over the years…always felt comfortable singing Gregg's parts. I also used one of Duane's Stratocasters that producer Johnny Sandlin had during the recording the first Brides of Jesus record. 

 

Marco Benevento (Benevento/Russo Duo)

benevento-sq.jpg1.) Favorite Allman Brothers album or song?

“In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.”  It was one of the first songs I had to wait to hear the end of.  I remember I was like 8 and my Mom and I had gone to my Grandmothers for dinner and when we got there it was on the radio and I was like I am not going in until this is over.  I have to know who it is and then waiting in the car until the song was over.  And when they said it was the Allman Brothers, I was like that was awesome I didn’t know the ABB did instrumentals.

2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment? 

First time I took acid was at an Allman Brothers show.  It was at Garden States Art Center in New Jersey – now called PNC Bank Arts Center.  I don’t remember when that was maybe 94 or earlier than that.

3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

Something about “Liz Reed.”  There are no lyrics, no story, no person telling a story with words, but the way they compose an instrumental song as a rock band and still make music that is captivating and almost sound like it has lyrics so that you can hum is great.

 

Seth Walker 

swalker-sq.jpg1.) Favorite Allman Brothers album or song?

“Ain't Wastin’ Time No More.” Gregg and Duane's last stand. It's lyrically connected and the groove is a ten foot ditch!

2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment? 

The At Fillmore East album is as good as it gets.

3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

The ABB has affected my music deeply. I lived in Jacksonville for awhile and once you know that region of the country, you can't help but hear the heat and humidity and attitude of the place in their sound. On a more literal level, they took the blues to a new place with melody, space and groove.

 

Jack Pearson (Jack Pearson Band, Allman Brothers Band)

jpearson-sq.jpg1.) Favorite Allman Brothers album or song? 

At Fillmore East is one of my favorites, I spent a lot of time listening and learning that record. 

2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment? 

I wouldn't be able to single out one show, I thought we had a lot of good nights when everyone was listening to each other and taking the music somewhere. 

3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you? 

I listened to their early records a lot. I always liked the sound that the original lineup had. To me, it sounded like they played with a lot of dynamics. The singing, playing, good grooves, lots of interplay, it was very creative. Getting to hear Gregg sing in the kitchen or hotel room while we're writing a song is very special to me. Playing with Dickey in his living room. I have a lot of wonderful memories.

 

Bryan Rahija  (Bombadil)

brahija-bombadil-sq.jpg1.) Favorite Allman Brothers album or song?

“Blue Sky.”  I haven't listened to this song for probably five years, but I bet I could still sing the entire guitar solo down to the last note.  I used to listen to this song on repeat cruising through the Orange County (North Carolina) countryside after school. 

2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment?

Seeing the Allman Brothers Band was actually my very first rock and roll concert.  I lucked into a ticket after my friend's Australian exchange student backed out.  It was a great show, they played at Raleigh's outdoor amphitheater and I remember wondering if that was what Woodstock was like.  The shirt I bought is still two sizes too big and is to this day the most expensive t-shirt I own.  Personal favorite moment of the show was, of course, hearing “Blue Sky.” 

3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

“Little Martha” was one of the first finger-picking songs I learned to play on the guitar.   Other than that, they helped me gain an appreciation for live performance, because this band that I loved had released all these live records and were able to create these great environments for concert-going, it made me take live shows very seriously.

 

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