The Allman Brothers Band

Allman Brothers Keep Their Guitar Prowess All in the Family

By MICHAEL ECK
Special to the Times Union

First published: Monday, June 25, 2000

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Since their start over 30 years ago the Allman

Brothers Band has emphasized a sense of family in its music. But the

reinvigorated group that rocked SPAC Sunday night was perhaps more

about family than the Allmans have ever been.

Young Derek Trucks stood near patriarch Gregg Allman, and only yards

from his founding uncle Butch Trucks slamming away on his big drum kit.

Trucks may be a kid, but he frequently proved at Saratoga Performing

Arts Center that he’s a Brother through and through.

Trucks was mesmerizing, with a thick, dark slide-guitar tone that recalled

the great Duane Allman without merely aping him.

With guitarist Warren Haynes back in the fold as well, the Allmans were

simply unstoppable at SPAC. Guitar solos dropped from the heavens as

heavily and as hard as Saturday’s rain, but they rarely veered far from

excitement. And they never once tipped over into boring.

A new Gregg Allman song, “Desdemona,” showed off the current lineup’s

strengths to its best abilities.

Not only did Allman sing it with trademark grit (while using a cheat sheet

for the lyrics), but the band leaped at the song. The long-standing rhythm

trio of drummers Jaimoe Jai Johanny, Butch Trucks and percussionist

Marc Quinones put a sweet beat behind the bluesy tune, making a canvas

for the younger Trucks and Haynes to paint their licks on.

Trucks opened with a cascading solo that echoed jazz hornmen before

stepping into knife-edge blues. Trucks showed a sense of composition far

beyond his years in the solo, which led into a sharp call-and-response

routine with Haynes. Haynes then spiked the tune with one of his giant,

death-defying Les Paul excursions.

It was 20 minutes of sheer nirvana for guitar heads.

If every number didn’t match the incandescence of “Desdemona,” it

wasn’t for lack of trying.

And God knows, big versions of “Dreams,” “Rockn Horse” and

“Southbound” (with opener Deep Banana Blackout joining in) certainly

came close.

The Willie Dixon chestnut “Hoochie Coochie Man,” the stinging “Trouble

No More” and the always sweet “Midnight Rider” provided satisfying

pleasures.

Thirty years on and the Allmans — still a family after all their notorious

squabbles — remain a band to be reckoned with, and what could be wrong

with that?

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