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
The Willie Dixon chestnut “Hoochie Coochie Man,” the stinging “Trouble
No More” and the always sweet “Midnight Rider” provided satisfying
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