By: Ray Waddell
Like the mushrooms of spring, the Allman Brothers Band has popped up in New York each March for a sold-out run of dates at the 2,894-capacity Beacon Theater.
The Allmans‘ Beacon gigs have evolved into one of the more truly special artist/venue relationships in the business. The shows hark back to the band‘s legendary concerts at New York‘s late, great Fillmore East.
“We think it‘s really special,” band manager Bert Holman says of the Beacon shows. “It‘s the closest we could come to capturing the Fillmore magic, since the Fillmore isn‘t here.”
This year, the group will perform 13 shows March 9-25. All are expected to sell out for a total capacity of nearly 38,000.
The band began playing the Beacon in 1989 when the members reunited on the Dreams tour. They recorded a live record at the venue in 1999, Holman says.
“We were contractually obligated to do a live record at some point for Sony, and we had played four nights in Macon (Ga.), but didn‘t feel like we got a good enough recording,” he recalls.
The Beacon was booked as part of a brief run of theaters, and ended up selling out 10 shows, to everyone‘s surprise. “That‘s when we really knew we were on to something,” Holman says.
In 1995, Radio City Music Hall “enticed” the band to play there, Holman says. “In 1996 (the Beacon) made us an offer we couldn‘t refuse, and we haven‘t left,” he adds. “Ultimately, we listened to our audience, and they told us they liked the vibe in the Beacon.”
So how do they gauge how many dates to book? “It‘s a Zen thing,” Holman says. “One year I think we did 17 shows, we were there like a month, and Gregg (Allman) says, ‘That‘s starting to feel like work.‘ Then we decided to cut back and create more demand. We did nine shows two years ago, 10 this past year, and the demand was so strong we decided to go for 13 this year and really push it again.”
In addition to vocalist/keyboardist Allman, the band‘s lineup is Butch Trucks (drums and tympani), Jaimoe (drums), Warren Haynes (vocals, lead/slide guitar), Derek Trucks (slide/lead guitar), Oteil Burbridge (bass) and Marc Quinones (congas and percussion).
Holman says the band will play about 30 dates in 2006 beyond the Beacon stand.