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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.

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Allmans at the Beacon: 3-22-14
Thursday, March 27, 2014
(Kofi Burbridge and Rob Barraco filing in for Gregg all night)

Done Somebody Wrong (Jimmy Hall)
Come and Go Blues (Jimmy Hall)
End of the Line
Dusk Till Dawn (Jay Collins)
Can't Lose What You Never Had (Jimmy Hall)
True Gravity
All My Friends (Susan Tedeschi, Jimmy Hall)
She Caught the Katy (Jimmy Hall)
Revival (Jimmy Hall, Susan Tedeschi)

You Don't Love Me (Jimmy Hall)
Aint Wastin' Time No More (Jr. Mack, Jimmy Hall)
Black Hearted Woman
Feel So Bad (Susan Tedeschi)
Les Brers >
Oteil/drums >
Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad? (Susan Tedeschi, Jimmy Vivino, Jay Collins) >
Les Brers

E: Southbound (almost everybody)

Last night's show was lush and lux, but tonight's was the shizzle. With Kofi Burbridge and Rob Barraco again sitting in on keys in Gregg's place, and Warren and a series of guest stars covering the vocals, this was a long, generous, big in-yo'-face affair.

Tonight there are two extra mics set up on the front line, and as the band walks on, there's a harp player over by Oteil, who of course turns out to be Jimmy Hall. The harp is prominent in the mix as the band makes the tuning up sounds that morph into the opening jam; Hall gently ushers in the show with a greasy harp vamp, delicious, that becomes a Warren/harp conversation, just riding the shuffle groove, and then turning over into "Done Somebody Wrong."  Derek's slide licks pave the way for Warren's ferocious vocals. Hall takes a big harp solo in the middle, Warren takes a solo, leading back into his vocals,  Derek tosses slide licks over the beat.  Can I call the opening song a highlight?

Quickly the opening keyboard lines to "Come and Go Blues," again Warren singing, and Barraco playing some appropriately wistful keys. With Warren singing, it actually becomes a different song. Both Gregg's and Warren's vocal persona combine defiance with world-weariness; but Gregg leans more toward world-weary, and Warren toward defiant... Derek solos, Warren gets all up in him, feeling every line, gives back a little, a little more, and soon it's a twisted pair of soaring screaming bliss.

"Oh my," it says in my notebook. An auspicious beginning.

Warren's big, manly vocals on "End of the Line" give the song a somewhat different spin; the tune features more Derek/Warren crunchy grind. Warren is marching through the Gregg songbook like Sherman marching through Georgia. On "Dusk Till Dawn" Barraco offers a stylish solo, echoed by Kofi on flute, and followed by a Derek sunburst. Jay Collins on sax sounds like he's hanging out of a Bourbon Street window at 2AM; Warren goes way down to the gut to pull out his solo. Derek and Kofi play together; then Derek walks back and lstens to his white hot solo standing right in front of his amp.

Jimmy Hall comes back for "Can't Lose What You Never Had," taking the lead vocals. Warren turns full body to him, and let me tell you, when Warren churns that hard rhythm and makes that face at you, brother, you'd better blow. So Jimmy blows.

The keyboard players switch places for "True Gravity;" the theme licks are fresh and full.  The drums scatter like a flock of birds, Oteil rides with the flock, Derek paints with majesty across the sky.  Oteil reflects a mirror image back at Derek-- going low where Derek goes high-- Warren falls in, then they stop and nail the theme again. Susan Tedeschi joins for Gregg's solo "All My Friends"-- at which point I'm reminded of the Gregg tribute show in Atlanta earlier in the year; maybe the band is paying tribute to him tonight as well, pulling out a couple of songs tonight that Gregg has written or sung, for the first time of the run. Susan handles the lead vocals, and Jimmy answers beautifully on harp; Derek plays a sweet and graceful solo.

Jimmy launches a harmonica hootenanny that becomes the shuffle of "She Caught the Katy," the old Taj Mahal blues that was a highlight on the last night of the 2012 run, another night when Gregg was out and Jimmy helped fill in. There's a killer, text book Chicago blues harp solo (somewhere Little Walter is smiling). Derek rides the glass all the way up to the very top of the neck. Then Jimmy and Susan augment the band for "Revival," with Warren, then Jimmy, then Susan each singing a verse. Kofi goes off on a pretty and happy solo, then Derek and the drums take a run, Warren offers a nourishing dose of guitar, and of course everyone is singing the "People can you feel it? Love is everywhere!"refrain, until the Beacon has become a church.  It's like an all-you-can-eat buffet for your heart.

The first set, it should now be clear, was epic.

"You Don't Love Me" opens the second set, more bluesy than the traditional band version, with Jimmy on vocals and a lot of harp. Barraco takes a solo, then Derek moseys over to Kofi for Kofi's organ solo, egging him on; then Derek gets an idea, Jimmy seems to cut him off, Derek goes again, then the musical tension resolves into a jam they ride out to the close.

Junior Mack is featured on "Aint Wastin' Time No More," contributing both lead vocal and guitar. Cool Rob Barraco waves roll in, heralding the song. Derek lays on some creamy icing, Junior plays a bluesy outro solo. "Black Hearted Woman" is a high-intensity song that is a prelude to itself, as the real action begins after they've run through the body of the song. The band builds tension running into the coda, round and round, till vertigo sets in, and then more, and faster... wih a slam they switch into the "Other One" jam that is a minor variation on the song's outro, Oteil rocks the drums, then a full band rush, Derek and Kofi meld and churn it up.  A good, killer, in yo' face version of the song.

Susan comes back out for "Feel So Bad," she and Derek going off together at the end, Susan full bodied blues shouting, Derek responding.  Susan testifies, then Warren rocks you like a baby. After the song, Susan gives Derek a little kiss on the cheek before demurely departing, as derisive "awws" rain down on him.

And then "Dreams." Derek fills the room with tone, Kofi accents, Derek pours out washes of texture that Kofi dances over. Derek trills and flits. Warren takes a solo that becomes a duet, as if they can't decide who should solo so both solos converge, making a sweet baby that resembles both parents. Out of an epic "Dreams" the band creates some smoky "Liz Reed" type space, then tumble into "Les Brers." Barraco does an organ run, Derek takes a turn, falling off the melody, the front line falling away gradually to Oteil and the drummers, then just drums, a cool refreshing interlude. Out the other end Derek gets up a full head of steam on rhythm; it becomes a tease of 'Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?" Moves away from the tease and into another jam, the guitarists pull it in center stage (Derek, Warren and now Jimmy Vivino); soon someone hits the opening chords and indeed they go back and play "Why Does Love..." Susan strolls on casually, just in time to sing the chorus, then Vivino takes the second verse, and runs the voodoo down on guitar; then Jay Collins sprays some jazzy light, Derek takes a run that turns into a three-guitar huddle, each man peeling off joyful licks.  Collins plays some sweet, pretty sunset over the guitars... a brief stop, then Derek hits the chords that drive the band back into the rest of "Les Brers," Jimmy Hall now on sax making a two-man horn section with Jimmy Hall. All in, the "Les Brers/drums/WDLGTBSS/Les Brers" medley runs almost a half hour, some serious derring do.

Of course tonight the encore is "Southbound," with almost everyone back out (not Kofi though; Warren tells us he's had to split for his BB King gig.) Lots of Vivino, lots of Jimmy Hall. It's well after midnight when the final chords and notes crash down.  A full weekend without Gregg... but a great weekend of music nonetheless, and I can't imagine anyone is disappointed.

Posted by: --josh-- @ 9:30 AM  0 comments

Allmans at the Beacon: 3-21-14
Sunday, March 23, 2014

(Rob Barraco, Kofi Burbridge filling on for Gregg Allman)

Mountain Jam
Statesboro Blues
Worried Down With The Blues
Every Hungry Woman
Seven Turns (Susan Tedeschi)
Stand Back (Susan Tedeschi)
Good Morning Little School Girl (Bill Evans; Cyril Neville)

Little Martha >
Blue Sky
One Way Out (Devon Allman, Bernie Marsden)
Who's Been Talkin’ (Bill Evans)
Franklin's Tower (Bill Evans) >
Turn On Your Love Light (Susan Tedeschi) >
Franklin's Tower
The Sky Is Crying (Susan Tedeschi)
Hoochie Coochie Man
In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed (Bill Evans)

E: Preachin' Blues >
Mountain Jam

Gregg is absent, Warren tells us, with bronchitis, but Kofi Burbridge is stationed at Gregg's organ, and across the stage Rob Barraco is set up on keyboards. Immediately it is hard not to think about 3/25/12, the closing night of the 2012 Beacon run, when Gregg was out with back trouble; that night the show was so musically overstuffed and packed with guests, that it turned out to be the best show of the run. So this may not auger poorly at all...

And after Warren's brief announcement, the band rolls into "Mountain Jam," the guitar players offering all their favorite teases-- "Third Stone," "Birdland," "Norwegian Wood."  Kofi provides some nice organ work, then there's some pretty two-guitar flutter... Warren counts in "Statesboro Blues" and handles the vocals, indeed singing the hell out of the thing. Barraco plays some nice barrelhouse, Warren spanks the monkey.

On "Worried Down With the Blues" Kofi plays some sad, soulful church organ, Derek some big fat soulful slide. Warren rings out clear as a big sad bell, then a slow, aching two-guitar finish.  It's a highlight. Then Derek's slide work heralds "Every Hungry Woman," another Gregg song with Warren singing; the two guitarists shovel some hot lava back and forth, then on the outro Derek cools it down, Warren turns it back up to full boil, and a frenetic trading of lines melts together into one four-handed lead.

On "Seven Turns" Susan Tedeschi comes on to provide Gregg's answer vocals ("Somebody's calling your name...") and Derek tarts it up, Derek style. Then Susan stays on for a ferocious version of "Stand Back," Barraco lays down some funky wah-wah keys, Oteil and Marc go to funkytown together, Barraco plays some free form jazz keyboard, then Derek slides us back into the song.  But it's not a song-- it's a party.  And another highlight.

The keyboard payers switch sides for "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl," which features Bill Evans on an extended, wild man sax solo. The band accelerates, falls in behind him, then rolls off into the song's riff; Warren sings a couple of lines into his megaphone, Derek plays some snaky, glassy slide, then embarks on a descending run that pulls time down a rabbit hole, and the band comes out the other side, blazing. 

Of course Barraco takes the Chuck Leavell solo spotlight in "Jessica," eventually falling into the familiar keyboard runs, but with his own signature, pounding attack. The guitars rain down notes, fluttering together, then Warren runs the song down and into a big, epic finish.

A "Little Martha" > "Blue Sky" segue opens the second set, reminiscent of the same 1-2 punch in the same slot on March 8. On "Blue Sky" Warren waits to enter, comes in slow, then Derek takes a run, and Barraco does the Snoopy happy dance. Warren plays a hard, rough solo, spilling over the sides of the song, then he mind melds with Barraco into the harmony licks. 

Devon Allman and Bernie Marsden (Whitesnake) some on for "One Way Out;" before which Warren plugs Devon's late night gig with Royal Southern Brotherhood at BB King's. Devon sings of course, everybody gets their licks in.

Bill Evans on sax, and Kofi on flute, lend a jazzy air to the always-dark and moody "Who's Been Talkin'," before Warren even gets around to the opening vocals; Warren stretches out the Santana-infused lines that bring the song in, going round and round. Finally the singing starts, Derek answering the vocal lines; Barraco pounds out a stylish solo, then Derek run all the way up the neck and cries for his supper, then tosses out stylish little lines around Warren's "the causin' of it all" refrains, a slow, extended coda to bookend the juicy beginning.

On "Franklin's Tower" Derek and Barraco chord together behind Bill Evans, who blows the roof off the sucka on an extended solo.  Then Barraco goes for a jaunty run (he's familiar with this territory from the PLQ days) over a crunchy chugga chugga. Oteil gets busy at the top of his fret board, joined by the drummers, then Derek and Warren come back in, first offering what sounds like a "Lovelight" tease. But soon the band embraces it, and Oteil steps to the mic and sings the first verse of "Lovelight"; Susan comes out with guitar to sing a verse, and it's a very happy room; I'm not clear whether or not "Lovelight" was on the setlist or an audible... then they go back and finish "Franklin's Tower."  After the song is over, Oteil sings out "Let it shine, shine, shine" as a final piece of punctuation to the joyful medley.

Susan takes lead vocals for "The Sky is Crying," deep throaty blues mama wailing, and all three guitarists get their 12-bar rocks off, a fun crowd pleaser. Then Derek and Warren take turns crafting slow, little, swampy, bluesy slide delta poems, which give way to "Hoochie Coochie Man," but taken at Muddy Waters speed (i.e. slow), like sitting on a front porch on a hot sticky day. Then they flip into the song's usual tempo for the back half. 

Evans is back on for "Elizabeth Reed;" Kofi takes a flute solo out of the opening theme, then Derek, then Evans is the big bopper, taking the band on a long jazzy run. Warren begins a solo low key in no hurry to pounce; all the players eyes are on him, waiting, ready to respond. Of course he turns it up, soon trading call-and-response lines with Evans; they fall into the twin licks of the song, then they fall apart and play different but intertwined smoldering lines at the same time... a drum solo interlude, a cool refreshing dip in the lake... the guitars return with long, stretchy taffy-pull lines, pulling the band into an upbeat frenetic jam... Warren wails into the "Liz" melody, then the theme and an emphatic set close.

Derek and Warren come on to do "Preachin' Blues," which inevitably gives way to the back end of "Mountain Jam." Warren and Evans trade lines as Derek bends sheets of tone into mobius strips. The whole extended band comes on in shimmering, mountainous, jamming waves, to a thunderous close.

I'm willing to bet no one asked for their money back.

Posted by: --josh-- @ 5:14 PM  0 comments

Allmans at the Beacon: 3/18/14
Friday, March 21, 2014
Trouble No More
Leave My Blues at Home
Rockin' Horse >
Low Down Dirty Mean
I Found a Love (Juke Horns)
It Makes No Difference (Juke Horns)
The Same Thing (Juke Horns; Yonrico Scott, Cyril Neville)

One Way Out (Robert Randolph)
Done Somebody Wrong
Feel Like Breakin' Up Somebody's Home (Juke Horns)
Stand Back (Jukes Horns)
Please Call Home (Juke Horns)
Mountain Jam > drums > Mountain Jam

E: Southbound (Juke Horns; Jeff Pitchell, guitar)

Everybody love the big, as my pal Ron calls them, "Who's your daddy?" weekend shows.  But personally, I always have a soft spot in my heart and ears for those magical mid-week shows... sometimes everything hits just right, and the mid-week shows can be true gold. This was one of those nights, where pretty much everything the band tried, succeeded; to my ears, the best of the 5 shows I've seen so far.

Warren offers a nasty little spanking on "Trouble No More," Derek wails like s tomcat, hitting the spot. "Leave My Blues at Home" has the boys cooking in a cauldron, seriously crunchy, an extended conversation between Derek and Warren becomes more and more heated, then everyone tumbles forward into the closing licks. Two songs in and they've already made a statement.

Oteil drops a little bottom on yo' ass, which quickly evolves into the opening movement of "Rocking Horse." Derek and the drummers lock into a brisk funk rhythm, Warren falls into it, then solos happily over the top, going a good long time before putting on the fire chief hat and pouring on the gasoline. Your brain asks your ass to dance; but your ass is way ahead of you.  Meanwhile Warren just drills away at that spot... then the band makes some misty transition space, Derek takes some eastern-sounding runs, then goes all sunshiny, and Oteil lays down the bottom that becomes the "Derek's tune" movement.

As the final section of a massive "Horse" winds down Derek takes a few steps over to check in with Gregg; then the band rolls straight into "Low Down Dirty Mean." Warren plays some ticklish, loping slide reminiscent of Jerry Garcia, then Derek hitches a ride into town on the outro; Warren takes a little delta blues run of his own, then throws the gauntlet down to Derek, and the two of them play a little game of "can you top this," camping it up in super-playful fashion.  They both bust out in smiles as the band hits the final chords; good to see they are having as much fun as we are.  Highlight.

Derek soars on "Revival," offering up a little "Mountain Jam" tease. Oteil locks in and shimmers with Marc. Warren explores, probes, then finds a groove he likes and he's off, watery lines rippling out over the room. Then the percussionists lay down the shaky mystic groove of "Egypt," Oteil enters, then the guitars. "Egypt" may well be this line-up's signature instrumental. Derek races up and down the neck, then pulls up for a stop leading into a sparse interlude that the two guitars fill with rubbery question marks, then Warren goes all Warren Haynes epic elegiac, until finally the band returns on a cool midnight breeze. Exquisite.

It's mid-week, so out come the Juke Horns, first for "I Found a Love."  Derek manages to keep his solo inside the lines, which isn't easy; imagine Hendrix jamming with the Ink Spots. Yonrico Scott joins on Jaimoe's kit for the Band chestnut "It Makes No Difference," which features a lovely Warren vocal performance, the horns straining against the vocal melody. A trumpet solo, then Derek hits the payoff on the end of his solo. Next Cyril Neville joins the fun for an epic "Same Thing." A tasty trombone solo, N'Awlins-style; the engine room responds, sending up heat. Warren stings and dances. More vocals, then ensemble horn lines, then Oteil runs up and down his fret board, dropping handfuls of thunder every which way. The band comes back hard, churns; the horns go off into organized chaos, then some searing Warren guitar.  Then the horns ride the riff hard into the close.  Bam! Spectacular ending to a spectacular set.

In case you were worried the second set would be anti-climactic, Robert Randolph sits in on pedal steel for a scorching "One Way Out." Randolph totally slays it, then a three man hot potato, and a thrilled house; Randolph goes frisky on Gregg's vocal conclusion. Then "Done Somebody Wrong," the rhythm has you bending at the waist in time. Both guitars play great rhythm; Derek plays a creamy solo over the hard stop-time.

"Desdemona" is more sprightly than usual; Derek 's solo section features an extended attack, aggressive; Warren sprinkles raindrops, then paints in purples and blues, with clear, full, piercing tone. Then he goes as kickass as he can without actually spewing fire. Derek fattens up the close... usually this song's middle break harkens back to "My Favorite Things;" but tonight it was way more upbeat and assertive.

Back come the horns for "Fell Like Breaking Up Somebody's Home," laying on a classic R'n'B vibe. Derek, Warren and Oteil all turn to face Marc and the drummers, and soon it's just Oteil and the drum section simmering.  Then the horns blow, and Warren stings, soloing over a vigorous, frenetic one-chord grind, on and on, spewing liquid fire.  Then the horns again on the riff into close, and the room fills with whoops.

"Stand Back" features brassy sax over a rubbery band groove, Oteil bounces fat notes off the stage. The band is seriously in the pocket. Derek leans hard against the insistent grain, big, loud and fantastic as the band rides the crest.

"Please Call Home" is gorgeous. Derek sprinkles lines around a pleading Gregg vocal, then a pleading Warren solo. The horns swell on the bridge, Derek trades lovely lines with Gregg's vocal lines, then on the outro Derek pleads over the brass.  As pretty a version of this tune as I've heard.

They come into ""Mountain Jam" sort of sideways, stating, then avoiding the theme, sort of sneaking up on it. Derek puts out some shapeshifting tone that fills your heart, as Warren chops out encouraging chords. Then Derek strolls over from Warren to Gregg, Gregg sees him coming and begins a vamp.  Soon the whole band is on it. Warren lays into a solo with full body English, swooping and diving with guitar heroics, not going anywhere near the song proper... the front line falls away to a drum solo, deep and dark, then a return on the harmony licks, ringing out.  Derek takes us home, and I mean all the way home, to that pure white light deep inside... then Derek and Warren fall in together, ring out, take the pace down, Warren splashes, then Derek puts it to bed with big, ringing joyous tone.

"Southbound" is inevitable, everyone getting last licks in as they pass the groove around. All in all, a hell of a show.  Great song selection, great playing. As I said, pretty much everything worked. A couple of shows I've seen this run were light on the jam, but tonight, they just went at it in a totally lousy goosy fashion. Gold stars all around.

Posted by: --josh-- @ 5:57 PM  0 comments

Allmans at the Beacon, 3-15-14
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Intro (1992 theme?) >
Don't Want You No More >
Not My Cross to bear >
You Don't Love Me
Statesboro Blues
Hot 'lanta
Spots of Time
Don't Keep Me Wondering
Old Before My Time >
Smokestack Lightning
Midnight Rider
No One Left to Run

High Cost of Low Living
Worried Down With the Blues
Why Does Love Got to be So Sad? >
Drums >

E: Whipping Post

The show begins with a swelling overture, I believe the piece that's been called "1992 Theme," then bam, right into it with "Don't Want You No More." Gregg, his hair down, layers in some soulful organ. Derek announces himself, then Warren. It feels auspicious. On "Not My Cross to Bear" Derek stretches out a note that gets fatter and fatter as time bends around it. Derek and Oteil share a moment toward the end of a concise "You Don't Love Me," and the crowd shows it's appreciation for Derek's solo, then Warren flies over chunky Gregg chords. "Statesboro," then "Hot 'Lanta," short brisk versions with nothing wasted; at the end of "'Lanta" Warren plays sweet crying leads, and the band lumbers to a big thundering finish.

A big drum beat, then Warren joins in, for "Spots of Time," the first chance the band gets to stretch out. Derek's solo is nuanced and empathetic to the narrative; then Warren takes it, goes hot, runs way down the neck, then all the way up. Another vocal section, then Derek plays some plump, juicy slide, Warren leaning hard on the chords beside him.  Oteil wants a piece, so he squares off to face them, shimmying side to side from the waist.

"Don't Keep Me Wondering" continues to be a highlight; on the folk song "Old Before My Time" Gregg wears glasses (maybe he doesn't know the words, we speculate). The tune features some nice Gregg/Warren harmonies, and Warren takes a pretty solo, staying well within the lines of the song. Then Warren takes the band right into a positively nasty "Smokestack Lightning," probably the set highlight.  Warren growls out the vocals, then solos all dirty and nasty as the band rolls on. He even uses a megaphone to call out one "Don't You hear me cry?" The band grinds on and on, before finally grinding to a halt; this one is rated X, just for the thoughts it puts in your head.  And groin.

From here a fairly rote "Midnight Rider" and "No One Left to Run With" close out the set. The latter features a very short jam section, hewing close throughout to the Bo Diddley beat; Derek lays some scribbly slide over a drum-laden one-chord vamp on the close, and the guitars trade unison licks between the song riffs.

A lot of classic canon songs, but very little jamming; the crowd is happy, but it's been a relatively earthbound set. Maybe things will change up after the break...

A pretty Warren intro heralds "Rain."  On "High Cost," Derek surfs the wave on the extended outro that highlights the song, wistful, painting across the sky in sweet, colorful tones.  A highlight. Then "Worried Down." and Warren enters with a grimace; his guitar work is pure bubbling molten steel. Then Derek brings it and Warren punctuates his leads.

Warren takes the soloing duties for "Dreams," and where Derek's read opening night was ethereal, Warren's is different, more linear; with Derek you drifted away; with Warren you lean in, eyes wide open. His tone is full and round; he hits an early crescendo, then brings it down, tossing off looping golden electric lines, then he brings it back up. Then "Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?," and of course the action begins after the song is essentially done. Derek rings out sorrowful joy, then he and Warren trade cascading, fluttery licks. It is impossible not to think of two nights in this same building five years ago, and the British gentleman who sat in with the band, and who happened to have written this song. finally Oteil signals the drummers, and moves back to join them as the rest of the front line walks off. 

Back from the drums for a brief climax to "Why Does Love," then off into the "Jessica" sprint. Derek does the high-wire happy dance, then he and Warren rain descending lines on each other over an insistent blast of drumming sent up from the engine room. 

It's Saturday night, we've got some time, and there aren't a lot of guests requiring the "Southbound" gambit, so there is very little question that the encore is going to be "Whipping Post." Derek comes out of the gate, plays a pretty melody that is nonetheless not "Whipping Post." Out of the back half vocals Warren crafts and composes, weaving in a "My Favorite Things" tease, then takes us for a soaring ride, Derek chording, Oteil locked in, faster, faster-- then smash! Back into the climax.

Posted by: --josh-- @ 1:34 AM  0 comments

The Allmans at the Beacon: March 12, 2014
Saturday, March 15, 2014
Midnight Rider
You Don't Love Me
Leave My Blues At Home
Hot 'Lanta
Woman Across the River
I Found a Love (Juke Horns)
Blind Willie McTell (Juke Horns)
Soulshine (Juke Horns)
Breaking Up Somebody's Home (Eric Krasno, Juke Horns)

Statesboro Blues
Trouble No More
Into the Mystic (Juke Horns)

Who to Believe (Juke Horns)
Don't keep me Wondering (Juke Horns)
1983 > Mtn Jam > 1983 > Mountain Jam
(E) Southbound (Everybody)

You never know what you might get from the mid-week Allman shows.. without the pressure of the weekend, sometimes the band lays back, opens up, relaxes.  And then there was tonight. Pure molten wall to wall smolder, both with and without the Jukes horns...

The show begins with a just-so-story "Midnight Rider," then on "You Don't Love Me" Derek would have pulled the crowd to our feet if we weren't already standing. On "Leave My Blues at Home" the guitarists fall hard on the twin licks.  The band is all solidly in the moment, and not a single note is wasted. "Hot 'Lanta" follows, another absolute scorcher; Gregg solos first, the guitars pushing him from underneath; then Derek and Warren each have a go. 

"Woman Across the River" takes a while to lock in, but when it does, it quickly goes to 11. The guitarists press that pleasure lever with impunity on the extended outro. Warren welcomes Butch back-- he'd missed last night's show-- before the band sashays into "Egypt." It is dreamy but concise; again, they get right to the point.  Warren, Derek and Oteil shimmer and shine together. 

For the second night in a row the Jukes Horns take the stage, and the now-extended band offers up "I Found a Love," the old Wilson Pickett R'n'B song.  It's a big gospel vibe, from the beginning group vocals ("Yeah, yeah...") on; Gregg goes right to church on both organ and vocal. The horns punch in over Warren's solo, then over Gregg's vocals. Then the horns run once through as an ensemble, then in support of a sax solo. The horns sorrow up a weepy, mournful "Blind Willie McTell", then another sax solo on "Soulshine;" Warren shines a white beacon of light in his final solo, then Derek does, but it almost seems too easy...

Guitarist Eric Krasno joins for "Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody's Home."  Oteil shakes the room with a shimmy over drums; Krasno mostly just blends in, till finally he steps forward at the end of the song to solo against an insistent, horn-fueled one-chord funk, then a 3-way guitar conversation as the band rides the pocket, then slamming hard into the closing riff.  The crowd is very happy; the band kills it.

The second set opens with a raucous "Statesboro Blues" featuring some nice Derek slide. On "Revival" the band again avoids the extended exploratory jamming, sitting hard on the riff through the jam section, incandescent; Warren is white hot.  "Trouble No More" is short, sweet and intense. Then the horns are back for "Into the Mystic," dreamy, brassy, sublime... a highlight, and the buddies I brought to the show are happy.

"Who to Believe" isn't one of the classic canon songs, but it has become a highlight when it appears on the setlist; it's usually a laid back romp, but tonight's version is maybe the most kickass, in-your-face version I've ever heard.  Duane Trucks sits in for Butch on "Don't Keep Me Wonderin'." This might be a song where the horns aren't doing us a favor, but by the end the guitars have managed to find their way to twang heaven.

The set piece for the night is the "1983"/"Mountain Jam" suite introduced at last year's run. Warren plays some seriously psychedelic guitars on the "1983" midsection, which decays into a sparse chaos into which Derek injects some "Little Martha" while Butch lays down timpani, that of course flips over into "Mountain Jam." The "Jam" is perhaps their best instrumental, and the various ways they've pulled and reshaped and reinvented it in recent years-- combining it with Hendrix, dropping Led Zep in the middle--  has only served to demonstrate how robust and resilient it is. Derek buzzes and stings, Warren shakes your ass, then a "Birdland" tease helps push the band back into the purple haze of "1983." Then after a bit they segue back, Derek cracks open the door to "Mountain Jam" by playing some lines that cross "Third Stone From the Sun" with the "Mountain Jam" march section, then pulls the band full on back into the homestretch of the song. Shimmering extended waves of joy emanate from the stage, pure payoff, the band and the crowd basking in it all; Derek alights and soars like a dove as the band rocks gently beneath. Butch defiantly pounds out the final timpani, calling the band home.  It is awesomely satisfying.

There is of course absolutely no question that the encore is going to be "Southbound."  Everybody is back on stage for the post-coital cool down, passing lines around rat-a-tat. And then off into the cool night, happy.  WTF-- it's Wednesday!?

Posted by: --josh-- @ 12:14 PM  0 comments

Allmans at the Beacon: March 8, 2014
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
1992 Intro Jam >
Statesboro Blues
Come and Go Blues
Don't Keep Me Wondering
Hot 'Lanta
Rocking Horse
Get On With Your Life
Hoochie Coochie Man

Little Martha >
Blue Sky
Sailing Across the Devil's Sea
Seven Turns (Oteil vox)
Black Hearted Woman
Low Down Dirty Mean
Spots of Time > drums/bass (brief) > Spots >

e: Southbound

The show begins before most of the crowd realizes it, with Warren's slide making an offering over swelling bass and drums.  Soon the music becomes an overture, an intro somewhat reminiscent of "Les Brers," but actually labelled "1992 Intro Jam" on the printed setlist. The music builds, the tension mounts, Derek finally hangs a big fat note out, tosses a look at Gregg, who counts in "Statesboro"...

Maybe it's because Play All Night is out, the live set from this same theater recorded in 1992... but as the night unfolds, it becomes clear that an overarching theme to the set is the early '90s incarnation of this band, the Seven Turns/Shades of Two Worlds band. Indeed, by the end of the second set, it has become clear that the night is also a nod to the one Forrest Richard Betts, at least to his compositional contributions. But we're getting ahead of ourselves...

So, "Statesboro." Derek solos some slamming rhythm.  Then they do an especially crunchy "Come and Go Blues," Warren playing some nice lead on the break. Then "Don't Keep Me Wondering" is a shimmery, undulating blast.  Derek spews fiery metallic runs up the neck that you can actually taste. The house erupts in appreciation at song'a end; my buddy turns to me and asks, rhetorically, "Who the hell brings the house down on the third song?"

"Hot 'Lanta" is frisky as well; Gregg rips it up-- two nights in a row he's got himself a seat at the solo table-- Derek gallops, and so on his solo Warren starts sparse-- but quickly smolders, leading into the drum attack, and a frenetic guitar dash to the finish.  Then Oteil-- all Clark Kent in his glasses-- lays down the vamp that has become the first movement in the "Rocking Horse Suite." Warren plays an extended, quack-quack jam over a chugging Derek-driven rhythm, until finally rolling into the formal beginning of "Rocking Horse." Out of the front end run through the vocals, Warren gives a master class in monster molten face melting, before Derek reaches up and touches the Blue Sky on the major key instrumental section I've come to think of as "Derek's Tune."

Back into the "Horse," and after the back end vocal section Derek stretches out some wavy tone, pulling it like taffy, and the band rides it into "Get On With Your Life." The slow, sexy Gregg blues was a staple of the set throughout, that's right, 1992-- and they haven't played it since. They squeeze every drop of juice out of this one.  Derek dances, Gregg vamps it up, Warren stings like a bee, Gregg sings the hell out of it.

On "Rain" Warren walks between he raindrops, clear as a bell.  Then they segue into the instrumental "Egypt."  Derek and Warren converge center stage for a hot, uptempo summit meeting, then Warren's solo starts with a "Norwegian Wood" tease, then goes off from there, until Derek sprinkles some fairy dust signaling the band's return to the theme.  "Hoochie Coochie Man" closes the set; Oteil throbs and pulsates at the bottom.

The second set begins with the two guitarists easing into "Little Martha," so casually that not everyone realizes the set has begun.  Marc joins in with some spice, then suddenly it's the whole band, kicking and driving... and then flipping right over into "Blue Sky," an Eat a Peach one-two punch. Derek solos first, valiantly fighting the Dickey lines that define our collective memory of the song; finally he falls into the transition licks, Warren joins him in harmony... as good as the soloists are, tonight it is hearing them embrace these familiar riffs that provide the song's highlight, a testimony, I think, to the perfection of the composition.

Gregg runs through "Sailing Across the Devil's Sea," and then the band offers up a surprise few could have seen coming-- "Seven Turns." It is, of course, the first time they have performed this one since May 7, 2000, which just happens to have been Dickey's last show. It is brief and to the point, a song and not a jam, but damn if it isn't gorgeous. Oteil does a stellar job singing the lead, the two guitarists embrace the melody lines with the perfect blend of tenderness and ass whup, and the ensemble vocals-- with Oteil, Warren and Marc singing together, Gregg providing the answer lines ("Somebody's Calling Your Name...") are pure joy.  Warren just kills it on the outro.  Pure happy dance, and an unquestionable highlight.

"Black Hearted Woman" is a scorcher.  Warren and Derek build a fire and make it dance. Warren has smoke rising off his strings on the pre-outro, before the song briefly morphs into an especially dark, evil "Other One" jam section. On "Low Down Dirty Mean" Gregg does more fine singing, as does Warren on the refrain.  It's done pretty much by the book until the end, when Derek plays some enchanted, rubbery slide, going off script; the band grinds to a halt behind him, and he hits the turnaround that puts the song to bed.

Next Derek begins playing the moody chords to "Spots of Time," with Marc behind him. There is a brief stumble but they're over it in a flash... Warren layers on some color, the band falls in and after an extended intro Warren sings the verse, plays nice round lines in his solo-- if Friday was a "Derek show," then this is a "Warren show." At the tail end of "Spots" Oteil and Marc emerge, then Butch and Jaimoe join in, for a relatively short drum/bass solo... back for a final kiss on the cheek of "Spots," then the band scampers into "Jessica." After the mid-song crest Warren moseys over to Oteil, gets a push, then falls in center stage, hands Derek some funk, Derek pushing back with rhythm. Warren goes off for a walk in the park, Derek keeps pushing, Oteil locks in with the drummers, turning to face them.  Then Oteil goes off for a little jog through that same park Warren was in.  The guitarists pivot to face him, soak up the energy, then square off center stage.  Warren gives Derek some "Mountain Jam;" First Derek resists, but then he embraces it.  Finally they fall away from each other, and Warren is back into the familiar licks that run back to the theme and close.

They come back with "Southbound," Butch sitting out; it is less hot potato, more two-guitar scorch.

I've written a bunch of show reviews over the past 14 years, and in that time I've aways tried to respect the politics and the zeitgeist and steer clear of mentioning Dickey Betts.  But tonight that is impossible. With the band performing "Blue Sky," "Severn Turns, "Jessica" and "Southbound" after intermission, the legacy of Betts was firmly, and from where I sit almost certainly deliberately, embraced and acknowledged. If you've read Alan Paul's book, you've got a sense of what went on behind the scenes, off and on stage, during Dickey's time with the band.  But the quality of his compositions, and their importance to the repertoire of this band still, cannot be denied.  It was nice tonight to see those contributions acknowledged musically. These are good songs, we love them, and this band kicks their ass.

Posted by: --josh-- @ 12:45 AM  0 comments

Allmans at the Beacon: March 7, 2014
Saturday, March 08, 2014
Old Friends
No One Left to Run With
Trouble No More
Leave My Blues at Home
Worried Down With the Blues
True Gravity
Midnight Rider >
You Don't Love Me
Dusk Till Dawn
Aint Wastin' Time No More

Walk on Gilded Splinters
Dreams >
In Memory of Elizabeth Reed
The Sky is Crying

e: Whipping Post

In 1989 a friend bought us a pair of tickets to see Gregg Allman at Avery Fisher Hall for my birthday.  The show turned out to be a reunion of the Allman Brothers band, who had gotten together to tour behind the Dreams box set. I don't know anyone who would have thought on that night that the band would continue on, with numerous line-up changes, but uninterrupted for another 25 years...

In 1992 I took a date to an Allman Brothers show at the Beacon, and while I enjoyed, it, I was too worried about making small talk to really immerse myself in the music. So I went back another night, and then another.  That was, for them and me, the beginning of what has become a Manhattan rite of Spring: the annual Beacon run (I wrote about the Brothers and New York City post-1989 in this program.) 

So it is with mixed emotions that I approach this final Beacon run.  There's excitement, of course, because for three weeks I basically loose myself in the bluesy jazzy rock'n'roll world the band creates, and I come out the other end rejuvenated (if exhausted). But then there's a sadness too, a sense of melancholy, because this truly is the end of the line. So I'm going all in this run.  I've got tickets to 10 of the 14 shows, and it isn't outside the realm of possibility that I squeeze in another one or two... and I plan to write about it all the way through.

The lights are down, Derek and Warren are on stage, and Warren announces their arrival with some bottleneck slide; Derek responds, and they're duetting on "Old Friend," the delta blues that closes 2003's Hitting the Note; it's only the ninth time they've played it.  Opening the final Beaxcon run, it feels especially poignant... as does the follow-up with the full band, "No One Left to Run With," which arrives after the drummers lay down an intro on the song's Bo Diddley beat. Oteil is wearing glasses. Derek runs WAY up the neck, the band goes along with him; it's a taut, concise version, no extended jam, all Diddley. Then a similarly taut "Trouble No More." "Leave My Blues at Home" features a fast, four-handed picking interlude, and then at the end, Derek and Warren face off for the first extended jam of the night.

Warren's "Worried Down With the Blues" is a gooey, sticky, in-the-pocket delight. Derek plays some big, fat tone, then pleads and cries; then Warren reaches right down your throat and gives your very soul a playful yank.  Highlight.

Then bam, "True Gravity." It's the first time they've played this since 2000, and only the second time since Dickey left the band.  A frisky opening, and beautiful, round ringing harmony licks, to a crescendo; then the band dives down, down the rabbit hole. (For not the last time tonight, I think to myself, "I'm gonna miss this.") Derek leads an excursion that comes back to the theme. Truthfully, the song is not fully realized.  But it will be, and soon...

Gregg delights the crowd with "Midnight Rider." Then the band rolls right out of that into "You Don't Love Me." Warren goes to town on slide; Derek tears it up with fingers.  Jaunty good fun. Warren sings "Dusk Till Dawn," Derek plays the spaces between the notes, making sweet, tiny runs.  The band finishes off with a soft landing. Then the sweet lilt of "Aint Wastin' Time No More" to close the set. Out of the vocals, Derek announces himself with a note that fills the room to bursting, then plays a dazzling, surprisingly aggressive solo that just drips narrative. Warren counters with a more subdued solo, and they fall in together to bring the somg home.

Gregg is up front to open set two on acoustic guitar for "Melissa;" Oteil dashes out after they've begun to quickly join in. It's simple but lovely. Then the drummers begin the cajun syncopation that heralds "Walk on Gilded Splinters" to scattered applause, as the cognoscenti recognize the song just from the beat; Warren layers swampy runs over the simmering drum section, Gregg does some dirty singing.

At this point I think to myself, "Dreams" would be great right about now.  So when they roll into the waltz time of that song, I'm not even a little surprised. Derek plays about as perfect a solo as you can play on this one, starting slowly, all teasy foreplay, taking his sweet time, building slowly, deliberately.  Then finally he kicks into high gear, Warren's chording driving the band, and soon the whole band is vibrating, shimmering, shuddering behind Derek, through repeated climaxes. It seems like someone has spiked Derek's catnip; he has been incredibly present and in-your-face all night.

And of course they don't actually stop at the end of "Dreams," instead sprinkling some blue mist, over which Warren plays a little tone poem, until finally it flips over inevitably into "Elizabeth Reed." Warren takes his time, vamping over sprightly Derek chording until finally, when they're good and ready, the guitars state the theme. Then Derek tears it up, and then Gregg, urged on by Warren's insistent nods and head tosses, takes an actual point-of-fact solo--  not just playing the organ part, but free-styling, beautifully, the band churning and chugging underneath, until finally he goes to the familiar transitional organ riffs. Derek and the drummers keep choogling, and Warren goes over and gets Oteil, squaring off with him, and the two of them play off each other while Derek drives the rhythm train; Warren and Oteil are actually playing a twin solo over the frenetic rhythmic beat, Oteil intertwining his bass all up in Warren's lead lines.  Finally Warren turns to leave... and then something happens... Oteil summons him back with a question of a bass riff, kicking the thunda up a notch... and Warren comes BACK, they square off some more, and they're at it again, even hotter than before, the crowd now amped up to 11. Then finally the drum break-- but the rest of the band stays on, it is just a break, not a solo-- and then bam! A dash to the close. There is an exclamation point in my notebook.  The crowd is going nuts, and I'm calling it the best Liz Reed I've seen in years.

Then a slow, gooey intro to "The Sky is Crying," a big, dewey, juicy version; it almost seems too easy after the "Dreams"/"Liz" couplet.  It's like a victory lap. Derek offers up one of those leads he plays where you can't tell where notes end and tone begins.  Then the band closes out the set with a frisky "Revival," the players fall away and the three guitarists turn their backs to the crowd and cluster around Marc, who is featured on a brief percussion interlude. Then everyone comes back in, Derek takes a run, then Warren, who layers the "Mountain Jam" melody into his solo. then he falls back into the "Revival" melody, as does the rest of the band, and they end almost where they begin, with the "Revival" rhythm reminiscent of the Bo Diddley beat of "No One Left to Run With."

It's only 11:21 on a Friday, so there's little doubt that "Whipping Post" will be the encore. Warren shows Derek some sparse little lines, Derek gives them back, then shows Warren a chorded melody, and Warren responds with harmony licks on top.  Then Warren takes the lead,, the band hurtling forward like a runaway train about to burst through the Beacon walls... and tied to the whipping post.  All in all, not a bad night.

The first set was a little spotty pacing-wise, but the second set was killer diller all through, not a note wasted. Derek in particular was stellar, and way more animated and physically emphatic than usual;  and because this band is symbiotic and empathetic, Warren gave him room. Tonight it could be very different...

Posted by: --josh-- @ 3:53 PM  0 comments

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