Greg Allman - The Voice That Launched a Thousand Jam Bands
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Gregg Allman is the voice that launched a thousand Jam Bands. His sound is instantly familiar, and his keyboard work, behind the famed Hammond B3 organ, propels his band forward. Of course, he’s best known as the anchor of the Allman Brothers Band but tours regularly with his own band as well.
Sunday night, he played to a near sell-out crowd at the Newport Yachting Center in what many were saying was the show of the summer at the venue under the tent. Allman took his fans through a set of classic material which included Allman Brothers originals, Blues favorites and a few of his own songs. He was in mighty fine form, especially considering recent health issues he’s faced.
A Legendary Artist
Although his voice is at the core of both groups, his own band is a different experience from the Allman Brothers. He shared some thoughts in a recent interview with GoLocal.
“Two completely different animals there, brother. The thing about my band is there is only one cook in the kitchen, you know what I mean? With the Allman Brothers, there’s a lot of ideas, and that can get complicated at times.”
Indeed, he was in full control at Sunday’s show, opening with the classic “Statesboro Blues,” a Blind Willie McTell tune done Allman Brothers style, albeit with the addition of his three piece horn section. The horns gave the show a classic R&B feel at times, something you don’t usually experience with the Allman Brothers Band.
Allman’s keyboard work is also a key part of the Jam Band vibe. He tours with the Hammond B3 organ, an almost mythical instrument in Rock and Blues circles. “I learned all about playing the B-3 from studying (keyboard masters) Jimmy Smith and Booker T,” noted the singer.
A Special Guest
After a fairly typical “I’m No Angel,” a real treat for the locals saw accomplished bluesman James Montgomery join the band onstage for a rocking version of Muddy Waters “Can’t Be Satisfied.” Montgomery’s harp no doubt wailed over Narragansett Bay, an early show highlight that really got the crowd going.
Later, the slide guitar work of Scott Scharrad drove home the Allman’s classic “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More,” a song written after the tragic death of Duane Allman in 1972. Another memorable moment came later with the airy “Dreams,” a classic mid-set surprise. It’s the consummate Allman Brother tune, with more slide guitar than probably any song in their catalog.
True to his influences, Allman’s show is heavily based in the blues. In our interview, Allman noted some of his musical influences.
“Muddy Waters, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Otis Redding, Little Milton Campbell - I loved those guys, and they all influenced me as a singer. But the biggest influence on my music came from my brother, and it had nothing to do with singing or playing. See, my brother truly believed in me before I did, and without him pushing me, I never would have made it.”
The show rolled along with the requisite “Melissa,” (a major sing-a-long) followed by a New Orleans inspired “Old Time Feeling.” Midnight Rider was a real crowd pleaser and then onto an up-tempo “Whipping Post,” a re-arranged version of the Allman Brothers standard. Needless to say, show highlights were everywhere.
The band closed with “One Way Out,” another classic with Allmans drummer Jaimoe and guitarist Junior Mack joining the band. The encore featured solos by what had now grown into an eleven piece band. In all, a fine conclusion to a great night of music.
Earlier in the evening, out on the super rockin’ Point Stage, guitarist Dean DePalma did a great job warming up the crowd with familiar hits from Johnny Cash to Elton John to Eric Clapton. He was joined by band mates Eric Leffingwell on bass and Eric Komiega on percussion and vocals. Check out his website for shows with his band Rendition – you won’t be disappointed.
Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band, which is really more of a Blues outfit, also impressed on the Main Stage with their hour long set of classics and instrumentals. They’re a tight band, led by Allman Brothers drummer Jaimoe Johanson, and featuring Junior Mack on lead guitar and vocals and Dave Stoltz on bass. With a driving beat, they rocketed through a set of jazz tunes and blues classics.
Ken Abrams review Roots, Rock and Blues for GoLocal. E-Mail him at [email protected]
Related Slideshow: Mojo Photography: Greg Allman Rocks Newport
Greg Allman played at the Newport Yachting Center. Rick Farrell of Mojo Photography took pictures of the event to give GoLocalProv an all-access pass to the action on stage.
Here's an exclusive look at Greg Allman live in Newport.
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