The Allman Brothers Band

Allman Brothers Bluesy Sounds Great on the Ears

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Monday, August 20, 2001

By John Young

Sure, you can call the Allman Brothers Band a Southern rock band. The group

originated in the South. The group rocks.

But the Allman Brothers Band, particularly the 2001 configuration that played

Post-Gazette Pavilion last night, belongs in another category. This is a blues

band. And they don’t play the stiff, whitewashed stuff of the commercial

airwaves, either, preferring searing, gut-bucket, greasy, down home, tail-kickin’

blues.

Nowhere was that more evident than during a three-song virtual suite that

brought the group’s two-hour set to its climax. First came “Worried Down With

the Blues.” The band played at a hush as Warren Haynes took the mike and

spun a tale of trying to be a good man to a home-wrecking woman. Even with

all the great players in the group, everyone had the good sense to hold back and

create space for Haynes to let loose occasional growling bursts of singing and

guitar playing.

Ten minutes later Gregg Allman was singing “Leave My Blues at Home.” The

tune positively percolated as bassist Oteil Burbridge and the band’s three

percussionists poured on the funk. Marc Quinones, playing congas and assorted

percussion instruments, set the tone with great rhythmic blasts around the work

of Jaimoe and Butch Trucks on the drum kits. Allman’s fat, smart organ licks

were the icing on the cake.

Finally, Allman counted to four and the band tore into “Statesboro Blues.” As if

the music didn’t make enough of a statement, the video screen behind the group

featured images of blues players as diverse as Muddy Waters, Blind Willie

McTell, Robert Johnson and Jimi Hendrix. Haynes and fellow guitarist Derek

Trucks did some fine riffing, although Allman again stood out during his short

but weighty piano solo.

Which isn’t to say that the Allman Brothers Band played nothing but the blues.

Some of their more concise melodic pieces were some of their strongest.

“Midnight Rider” clocked in at only about three minutes, but lasted long enough

for Allman and Haynes to do some fine vocal harmonizing while Trucks joined

Haynes on the harmonic guitar lines of the instrumental break. “Ain’t Wastin’

Time No More” also soared, with Derek Trucks adding slide guitar that echoed,

and didn’t merely reprise, the guitar work on the original recording.

The ABB also recognized that all of their instrumental work can be great on the

ears but boring to the eyes. The video screen behind them was often used to

interesting effect, whether it was vintage motorcycle footage being shown

during “Good Clean Fun” or Haynes’ image being mixed with kaleidoscopic,

psychedelic swirls for “Rockin’ Horse.” The most interesting images were

projected during “Blackhearted Woman” as vintage tattoo flash art combined

with footage of a mysterious-looking dancer.

But the blues were at the core of everything the group did for the 11,179 fans in

attendance. From the opening tandem of “Don’t Want You No More” and “Not

My Cross To Bear” to an encore of “One Way Out,” the Allmans centered the

lyrics on rogue living and love gone wrong and the music on traditional

three-chord patterns.

They also left Haynes and Derek Trucks plenty of room to display their guitar

chops. Trucks played slide most often, and his lead work was fleet, light and

often centered on the highest notes of his guitar neck. Haynes preferred to get

dirtier, ripping into solos that squealed, reveling in their rough edges. The two

complimented each other, and often turned dueling solos into harmonic duets.

Combining great guitar work, a tight rhythm section and Allman’s beautifully

gruff voice and keyboard playing, the Allman Brothers Band turned a gray night

vividly blue.

Susan Tedeschi also played the blues at the show, but in a far friendlier and

mellower manner. Tedeschi’s voice expressed subtle emotions and brought out

the lyrical nuances of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” and

Tedeschi’s own “Looking for Answers.” Her guitar playing was less

spectacular, though, and her set could’ve deleted a few well-known covers in

favor of tunes as distinctive as “You Need To Be With Me” and the

aforementioned “Answers.”

The Columbus, Ohio band Ekoostik Hookah opened the show with folky fare

for the tie-dyed jam band fans.

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