Sunday, October 18, 2009
The Allman Brothers Band - October 6 - Merriweather Post Pavilion
It's taking me some time to get this entry out, but that's not because this wasn't a great show. To the contrary I think that every time I see the Allman Brothers it's a better show than the previous. I believe that each of the band members are are in the peak of their musical form (despite the fact some of them are old enough to be collecting Social Security), so when they crack open the deep ABB song catalog you know you're in for a night of great music.
The Allman Brothers Band is celebrating their 40th anniversary this year, and the first song "Trouble No More" was accompanied by a nice photo montage, showing the band in their early days. Their story is really pretty interesting, a few years ago I read a biography of Duane Allman ("Sky Dog") that does a good job of telling that story. Pick it up here or I'll be happy to lend you my copy. Anyway, "Trouble No More" was followed by "Leave my Blues at Home", a nice blues number by Gregg, then they did a rousing version of "One Way Out" with an excellent guitar solo by Derek Trucks. During all of these songs Gregg was playing the Hammond B-3 and they had Danny Louis sitting in on piano.
Next up was "The Sky is Crying" a song that was made popular by Stevie Ray Vaughn, then a great version of the Allman's classic "Dreams". Next up was a song originally done by Dr. John, called "I Walk on Gilded Splinters". According to Wikipedia ("it's got to be true"), Johnny Jenkins recorded this song in 1970 with Duane, Jai Johanny Johanson, and Butch Trucks. Joining them for this song were John Bell and Sonny Ortiz of Widespread Panic.
Then they did "Woman Across the River", which was the only song they did from their last CD (Hittin' the Note). I love this CD, to the best of my knowledge it's the only one with Derek and Warren on guitars. Come on guys, what about a new one?
Next Susan Tedeschi (Derek Trucks' wife) joined the band and she sang the Dylan classic "Don't Think Twice". That went straight into "Southbound" the straight ahead rocker from the "Brothers and Sisters" album. Also sitting in at this point were Jimmy Herring on guitar and Todd Nance on drums (both from Widespread Panic) and Ron Hollaway on sax. The highlight for me was a stinging guitar solo by Susan that seemed to say to the other guitar masters on the stage, "this lead guitar club is not just for boys".
The fun was just beginning as next Gregg took an acoustic guitar and sang "Melissa". Then another great tune "Stand Back" again featuring Holloway on sax. Butch Trucks moved over to the kettle drums and they began the familiar strains to "Mountain Jam". And jam they did! Somewhere along the way Derek broke a string and completely retuned his remaining strings to compensate, it was very spacey and improvised. But then they morphed into a screaming version of the Led Zeppelin classic "Dazed and Confused" with Warren handling the vocals, then back to "Mountain Jam" and then they left the stage with the audience whipped into a wild frenzy.
But the crowd wanted more, I was screaming "Whipping Post" and sure enough they came back on ripped into the classic to finish the show.
A couple of postscripts. Widespread Panic opened the show, those that were with me thought they were really good but they didn't do it for me. Too loud and the songs sounded too ponderous to me. Actually they did a couple of nice songs when Warren Haynes joined them on stage. Second note, I'm continued to be impressed with the job that Seth Hurwitz has done with revitalizing and improving the Merriweather Post Pavilion. The service is excellent, plenty of food and drink (although rather pricey), they've added some high def video screens that enhance the experience, and this is a super place to see shows. Hopefully next year they'll book more exciting acts.