Allman Brothers Band, Tedeschi take charge
Jay N. Miller
14 July 2003 – The Patriot Ledger
Copyright (c) 2003 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved.
About 34 years after its founding, the Allman Brothers Band is still the premier jam band in rock ‘n’ roll. The years and various circumstances may have altered the lineup, but the septet from Macon, Ga., still takes rock, blues, country and jazz and crunches it all together in one gloriously soulful stew better than anyone.
Last night’s show at the Tweeter Center was a 160-minute confirmation of that maxim. It was also a triumphant homecoming for Norwell’s Susan Tedeschi, whose quintet opened this marathon night with a 100-minute set of its own. Tedeschi is married to guitarist Derek Trucks, the newest addition to the Allmans, and he joined her for a couple of tunes. In recent years, longtime guitarist Dickey Betts was fired and replaced by Trucks, the nephew of the group’s original drummer, Butch Trucks. Warren Haynes, who’d played with the band previously, put aside his Gov’t Mule trio to rejoin the Brothers. Bassist Oteil Burbridge is a relatively recent addition, bringing some funky jazz feeling. The rhythm section also includes longtime members Marc Quinones on percussion, Butch Trucks, and Jaimoe (Johnny Johansen) on drums, with singer and keyboardist Gregg Allman still the anchor.
The Allman Brothers wasted no time in knocking the socks off the crowd of 15,000 fans, opening with a blistering rendition of “Layla,” the biggest hit from Derek and the Dominoes, the supergroup that featured Eric Clapton and the late Duane Allman. Last night’s version had Haynes doing a superb job on the vocal, while Derek Trucks took the Duane Allman slide guitar leads. If some of the melodic ideas weren’t quite as cohesive as those of the original, he did give them a new slant.
Gregg Allman came out front to play acoustic guitar on a lovely stroll through “Sweet Melissa” which showcased his burr-filled baritone. Haynes again surprised with his own vocal prowess, on a cover of Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic,” where Derek Trucks’ slide guitar aped the horn section of the original. The slow ballad from the new CD, “Desdemona,” shifted into a finger-popping shuffle as Haynes played a guitar solo that was a model of melodic catharsis.
Gregg sang on the rocking blues-funk of “Every Hungry Woman,” but it was Haynes’ marvelously fluid solo that again stole the show. Derek Trucks strutted his own stuff on “Dreams,” with a bent-note solo that reinvigorated that Allmans chestnut. The new tune “Instrumental Illness” gave a hint of how much new ground this lineup can cover, with dual guitar leads and a sweeping B-3 organ solo that was as adventurous as the best jazz. The septet encored with a fiery “Whipping Post,” where Derek Trucks’ melodic arpeggios again hinted at the jazzy potential of this group.
Susan Tedeschi’s set was a barn burner. Husband Derek Trucks joined her for the new “The Feeling That Music Brings,” an effervescent blues shuffle that was spiced by Burbridge guesting with a breezy flute solo, and then trading licks – fat-toned flute lines versus stinging guitar – with Trucks. Tedeschi’s vocal quality was otherworldly on Stevie Wonder’s “Love’s in Need of Love Today,” and “Angel From Montgomery” featured a gospel-like segment where her vocal echoed Jason Crosby’s fiddle slides. Tedeschi’s dual keyboard quintet – Crosby on electric piano and Wayne Green on B-3 organ – added to the sublime Memphis-soul style. Early arrivals could hear Sharon rocker Mark Cutler and his quartet on the side stage, where tunes like “Drinking in the Afternoon” set the table.
ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND – With Susan Tedeschi. Sunday night at the Tweeter Center, Mansfield.