Forty Years of Unrelenting Music: Bands and Musicians share their memories of the Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band 8-1-12 at Chastain Park Amphitheatre in Atlanta Ga. Peachtreeimages.com/Lisa Keel2012

This article originally appeared in March 2009 as part of Honest Tune’s coverage celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Allman Brothers Band.  As the band prepares to play their final show ever at the Beacon Theatre we thought it would be a great time to revisit this piece.  We asked some of our favorite bands to share their thoughts, memories, and importance of the Allman Brothers Band.  So put on your copy of At Fillmore East, dim the lights, and dig in.

 

ColbruceCol. Bruce Hampton (Aquarium Rescue Unit)

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.

 marcoMarco Benevento (Benevento/Russo Duo)

 1.) 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.

 

 pearsonJack Pearson (Jack Pearson Band, Allman Brothers Band)

 1.) 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.

 

 ericmartinezEric Martinez (Bloodkin)

1.) 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.

 

 

i-mZNBMfh-LRob Barraco (Dark Star Orchestra)

 1.) 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.

 

 

drewDrew Heller (Toubab Krewe)

1.) 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.

 

 

billyiusoBilly Iuso (Restless Natives)

1.) 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.

 

 georgeGeorge Sluppick (City Champs, Mofro, Robert Walter’s 20th Congress)

1.) 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 complement 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 sound check and noticed some crew members putting a lot of chairs on the stage, on either side of the band, and 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 heroes. Rock on fellas! Much love and respect to y’all.

 

 

jessJess Franklin (Tishamingo)

1.) 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!!

 

bird dogJeff “Bird Dog” Lane (Outformation)

 1.) 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 World’s 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!!

 

 

johnnyJohnny Zvolensky (Old Union)

1.) 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 HammockJesse Hammock (Shady Deal, Powder Mill)

 1.) 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

 

 

luke millerLuke Miller (Lotus)

1.) 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 epitomize 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.”

 

 

edanderson Ed Anderson (Backyard Tire Fire)

 1.) 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 holtSam Holt (Sam Holt Band, Outformation)

 1.) 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 MillerJeff Miller (New Monsoon)

 1.) 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!

 

 chrisChris Combs (Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey)

 1.) 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.

 

 

seth walkerSeth Walker

 1.) 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 a while 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.

 

 

bryanBryan Rahija (Bombadil)

 1.) 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.