"Might be your man, I don't know!"
Walking in to the show last night, I was grabbed twice from behind. No, it wasn't security people accosting me for associating with known Critical Thinkers. First it was J.R. All excited because a friend was coming with an extra ticket. Then it was Doctor Doug who ....(insert inappropriate physical action by males acting 35 years younger than they are). White headed, balding, bald, and grinning from ear to ear...The whole crowd looked like that except for the kids who looked like, I can't believe this...Hippies!
But wait...the hippies had all given up and gotten jobs by the time these guys, this band, hit. Time warp... someone's messed up the future by fooling around in the past, I think. Ray Bradbury, why didn't we listen? Something wicked this way comes, but, it's the GOOD wicked.
We should have brought the kids...oh hell no we shouldn't have! The Allman Brothers Band hit town and played at the 2500 seat City Auditorium. And man, do I mean PLAYED! There is no way that our kids need to see 50 something year old men and women bouncing around, and I do mean BOUNCING, to the Southern (Take your hat off when I say Southern, son) Blues, Rock, Jazz, Fusion, BOOGIE of the best band ever to kill off a few members, recover from heroin and several other addictions, pick up new members from the Church of the Marshall Fender Hammond B3, with a vintage Leslie cabinet Choir, and Rock out on Thunder Road in Knoxville, Tennessee! If your mind can't quite get there on the "bouncing" image, picture a multi hundred pound man resting his massive stomach on the back of the seat in front of him while the rest of his body dances. OK? Got the crowd in your head?
They gave us tickets with seat numbers on them. What ever for? The security guys walked back and forth up and down the aisles sending people back toward their assigned numbers, but BOOGIE was in the house. The seats were just a designated place to land when someone fell down. If you were actually your seat, you got landed on. The crowd was a show all its own. I can sum it up by telling you that they sold beer, wine, and mixed drinks in the lobby. They ran out of real beer in less than an hour, even before the opening act finished the first set. The opening act was.... the Allman Brothers. After a break for the crowd to complain about the poor beverage planning and logistics, the second and final act, which was... the Allman Brothers, came back and stomped us with boogie.
The Crowd fell down a lot!
The sound system was near perfect but the crowd kept yelling about all the time. My ears had started closing up shop but thank goodness, the woman behind us left before the end of the show. She had a 115 decibel scream that had me cringing waiting for the next one to pierce my head. The band wasn't too loud, it was that woman. A couple in front of us brought a baby. They had to leave fairly quickly. Stupid!
The only concert I remember having ever left before it was finished was a Dead show in Atlanta. It went for four hours, but I decided I had heard enough really bad music after one and left at the two hour mark. A concert that requires you to be on the same drugs as the band doesn't work for me. I'm not sure there is a drug that could make the 70's Dead sound good, but I wouldn't know. I couldn't take it.
Last night was different.
Dwane Allman died in the ditch after leaving the Sunshine Bar and Grill outside of Macon, Ga. on his motorcycle. One year later less than a mile from that spot, Berry Oakley died in the ditch after leaving the Sunshine Bar and Grill outside of Macon, Ga. on his motorcycle. Twenty years later Dickey Betts got booted off the island for never leaving the Sunshine Bar and Grill behind. Demons exorcised, Gregg Allman now presides over the best jam band I've ever heard.
Two of the three drummers are originals, Jaimoe, who looks his age, and Butch Trucks, who may look it but doesn't act it. Nephew of Butch, Derek Trucks is unreal on a Gibson SG guitar, playing licks that Dickey only imagines. Warren Haines lives a fan's dream having risen from idolization of Dwane Allman to taking his place. Both guitar players have touring bands of their own. Warren Haines has Government Mule. Solid and perfect. Derek is on another level, and probably runs through licks that leave the crowd behind, except for the other guitar players out there who watch his fingers on the giant screen above the stage and understand how hard it is to get where he just went and wish they could go, too. There was a third guitar player whose name I need someone to send me (Butch's son, Vaylor Trucks?). On any other stage he would have been amazing, but not last night. Still, the three axe jam, with call and response rips, had to be experienced. I think Warren duked it out with the kids and came out on top.
What else? Well, until last night, I used to think Victor Wooten of the Flecktones was the best bass player alive, but now I don't know. Oteil Burbridge plays bass like he was the lead, sometimes being the overlay for the signature Allman Brothers harmony lead line. When Oteil went off, you could feel it in your chest. Marc Quinones lived on the congas. You don't always hear him unless you listen for it. I noticed when he took breaks. There was definitely something gone, something complex and now simplified until he returned and explained it to you how a drum could be made to sing.
Maybe if Jerry Garcia had gotten straight a little sooner and had by pass surgery, the Dead would have turned into a good performance band for the conscious. As of last night, Greg Allman is the grand old man and there "Ain't but one way out, Baby!"