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A penny for your thoughts indeed. Around here that would be a raise.

What makes a good blog? I think thematic consistency, a little exhibitionism, and honest writing. I can promise you the last one.

Most of my posts seem to be about music or politics. Some of them are funny. But all of them would love to hear a comment from you.

Oh-- and please welcome God to the APW team. We're thrilled and humbled to serve as His earthly vessel.

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Location: NYC

I was born at a relatively young age. Growing up consumed the better part of my childhood. As a young man I chased a lot of girls. But they kept getting away. Then I got older and even slower, so I got married. I've lived in New York City almost since before I moved here. I summer in Manhattan, which is like New York City, but with more humidity.

Here's me, without baby, thinking big thoughts. (Actually, what I'm thinking is, "Hey, these aren't Pringles!") I think I look better with baby.

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March Madness
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
And they added a show on Sunday the 26th...

Nine days until March madness begins. Each year since 1992-- skipping '93, and moving to Radio City in '95-- the Allman Brothers Band has played an extended residency at New York's beautiful Beacon Theater. And each time I've been to at least 2 of the shows; in recent years somewhat more.

I've seen a lot of artists at the Beacon over the years, and in the past I've been critical of the acoustics there. But the Allmans sound man, Slim Judd, has gotten the place down cold, and they sound so good in there it is indescribable. This year, They'll be doing 14 shows. There were 10 last year and I went to them all (including the climactic Big House Benefit); this year I hope I can see my way clear to miss a couple.

I had been writing reviews of Allman Brothers gigs online since '96, and in 2003 it paid off (although in truth, it was always its own reward.) One day during the Beacon run I got an email from Kirk West, the band's tour mystic (hey, that's his title), asking me to call him and providing his number in town. He was very kind, very flattering about my reviews, and he asked if I'd write about the run for the band's magazine, Hittin' the Note (the subsequent piece ran in this issue.) He said there wouldn't be a lot of money, but there would be fun.

He was right on both scores; and way more than enough fun. Since then I've been to maybe 60 Allman Brothers concerts. They'll comp me in the summer on the shed tour when they hit Jones Beach, and I can always get a ticket and a back stage pass from the band for any (and all) Beacon shows. I usually buy tix through conventional channels, then rely on them to fill in my gaps. Some nights I just get a pass, which means I can watch from the stage but don't have a seat. Less thrilling than it sounds after the first few times, because the acoustics aren't near what they are in the house; but just a pass is the way to see the show for free. (Kirk calls it "one in the back," meaning the back door.) $90 a pop, 14 shows-- well, you can see the benefit of an occasional one in the back. Tough to tell the missus I've spent a grand to see the Allmans (although, bless her heart, it gives me pleasure, so she'd be OK with it. To a point.)

The best thing by far to come out of all this-- besides my writing articles and doing interviews for the magazine-- was also in 2003, when the band asked me to write the liner notes for their live DVD. It went platimum. Yup, that's right; you're reading the blog of a platinum artist.

You might think the Allman Brothers are an oldies act, or else an act that is no longer relevant because they've lost original members. Indeed they manage to be something else entirely; a band that, through a mix of new blood and old, through classic repertoire and new compositions, is as fresh today as at any time in their history. This has always been a band about guitars, and two of the stone cold best guitarists around today are in this band: Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks. I have come to think of the current line-up-- which came together for the 2001 Beacon gigs, when Warren Haynes sat in on a trial basis-- as their second classic line-up, after the original ('69-'71) one.

At those 2001 Beacon gigs Haynes was shouldering too much of the burden in the wake of Dickey Betts's departure, as bandleader, soloist, and vocalist. And he and Trucks were running into each other on slide; it wasn't clear who should play slide when. But after about a year, a funny thing began to happen. Suddenly you no longer heard one guy playing the Duane parts, and one guy playing the Dickey parts. Suddenly, there was a Warren part, and a Derek part. Even on the old songs. And once that happened, things got very good very fast.

I assure you, after this line-up has passed into history, the fact that these two players performed side by side in the same band will be the stuff of legend, on a par with the Clapton/Page/Beck Yardbirds trilogy.

This is by no means intended to diminish the contributions of Oteil Burbridge on bass, the "Jabuma trio" (Butch Trucks, Jaimoe, and Marc Quinones on drums and percussion), and original member Gregg Allman of keyboards and vocals. But I hear this music, generally, through the lens of guitars.

I'll blog little during March, devoting my creative energies to reporting on the shows. I'll put links here as the reviews are writ, so you all can follow along.

Each time I see this line-up live, I feel privileged to have had a chance to hear these players in this combination. If you're in town, do try and go. Every night, it will be something special.

Oh-- and do eat a peach for peace.


Posted by: --josh-- @ 4:55 PM  

At 3/01/2006 12:58 PM, Anonymous Musically Challenged Annie said...   

Did you really mean $900 a night for 14 nights? What is it you do for a living, again?

At 3/01/2006 2:02 PM, Blogger --josh-- said...   

Whoa! Hell no; a typo. Ninety dollars a night.

I'll edit that.

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