Gregg Allman & Friends
Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park
June 21, 2013
Welcomed by mostly fellow Georgians, living legend, Gregg Allman looked like a happy man when he strolled onto the large Encore Park stage to open his summer tour in Alpharetta, GA.
Plagued by health issues and rumors, particularly over the past few years, Allman greeted his throng of faithful with a cocksure step as he ambled to his stage position; a look of confident enthusiasm adorned his iconic but aging face. It was as though Allman wanted to make one thing clear from the onset: Gregg Allman has done anything but pen the last chapter of his story – one of rock’s most endearing, revered and troubled.
Opening this evening with the instrumental “Hotlanta,” the intensity in the metro-Atlanta air was palpable. Allman’s signature style was on display from the beginning. The well known Hammond B-3 organ swirls ricocheted through the crowd – coupled with a heap of rock tinged gospel guitar goodness and equally sweet accompaniment from his current lineup of players: Scott Sharrad (guitar), Jerry Jemmott (bass), Tim Hedding (keys), Floyd Miles (percussion & vocals), Jay Collins (horns),Â Steve Potts (drums) and Gregg’s fellow Allman Brothers Band members, Otiel Burbridge (bass guitar) and Marc Quinones (percussion). Following their leader, the band was energized and super tight throughout the evening, with an eagerness to play matched only by the crowd’s eagerness to witness, dance and enjoy.
Moving into the tongue in cheek title track from 1987’s certified gold album, I’m No Angel, and onto well-executed covers of classics, “Call It Stormy Monday” (originally by T-Bone Walker), and a tune well-known to the Allman faithful, “Statesboro Blues“(originally by Blind Willie McTell), Gregg Allman’sÂ dedication and constant study of these masters of American Blues shone brightly and was a fine enough display to make even the most jaded industry vet glad that he never wavered to the pressure to “update his sound.”
(His newest album,Â the Grammy nominatedÂ Low Country Blues provides testament to this. It includes some of his favorite songs from various legends in the art of blues.)
The night also brought forth guests, or what Allman might refer to as “friends” that he has picked up over the years, and included Floyd Miles, a friend to Allman since the two met in Daytona, FL in the sixties, to singÂ a cover of “Samson and Delilah” (originally by Blind Willie Johnson or Rev. Gary Davis; made famous by the Grateful Dead) and Otis Redding III, the son of the late, great Georgia born Soul music master (and band mate to one of the Allman Brothers’ drummers, Jaimoe Johanson), for a hauntingly beautiful rendition of his father’s song “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (to stop now).”
A song like “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (to stop now),” particularly when sung with such passion and eloquence, coupled with the fact that it was sung by an actual Redding, proved to be strong enough to bring what had been an otherwise fun but rowdy group ofÂ music lovers to an almost complete hush.Â Skirts and beards stopped flowing in the wind and instead were bending to the silent sway that the number had evoked. Lovers held each other tighter and even the slightest breeze felt as if it was a caress from an angelic Redding. In short, it was what music is all about. It connected the body and soul and provoked an outward expression that, for all intents and purposes, was involuntary.Â It was beautiful and it was the highlight of the evening.
Continuing on with an assortment of Allman penned anthems such as “Melissa” (Eat a Peach, 1972) the evening concluded with an encore of the Allman Brothers’ staple, “Midnight Rider” (Idlewild South, 1970) — background vocals courtesy of the entire Amphitheatre at Encore Park.
Gregg Allman will pick up the tour and partner with his son, Devon Allman, for the second leg of the Summer tour and then regroup back where it all began — with The Allman Brothers Band — starting in late summer and early fall.Â For more on Gregg Allman, check out www.GreggAllman.com.