By: Leah Igdalsky
For: The Courant
The average song lasts about four minutes.
This is not the case for tunes by Bob Weir & Ratdog or the Allman Brothers Band. Wednesday night at the Dodge Music Center in Hartford, most songs spanned 10 minutes or more.
Weir, the singer and guitarist of Grateful Dead fame, led a troupe of six musicians through a set heavy on Dead songs, with Weir singing lead. Saxophone from Kenny Brooks added richness to the band’s sound, and created a funk feel on “Terrapin Station.”
The band tried a bluegrass style after its front man switched from electric to acoustic guitar, and Robin Sylvester picked up a double bass. The crowd of aging hippies and 21st-century flower children was bored, using it as an opportunity to walk around.
The sound cut in and out through “Uncle John’s Band.” The audience tried to help out, singing the lyrics whenever the sound failed.
Weir had a propensity for Bob Dylan covers, singing “All Along the Watchtower.” Later, “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” featured a dissonant harmony between Weir and Sylvester.
Warren Haynes of the Allman Brothers Band joined Ratdog for an encore, playing “Terrapin Station” again, this time featuring menacing guitar from Haynes.
The Allman Brothers played a two-hour set, complimented by a psychedelic video backdrop. “Whipping Post” showcased the nimble fingers of guitarist Derek Trucks, the star of this revival of the band. He is really an Allman nephew, not a brother; his uncle is Butch Trucks, a founding member of the band.
The band then eased into a slower jam, beginning with a guitar intro reminiscent of “Black Magic Woman.” Trucks switched back and forth between using a slide on his guitar. Kenny Brooks contributed saxophone along with Gregg Allman’s gravely vocals. A cover of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Who’s Been Talkin'” featured slide guitar from Trucks.
The Allman Brothers Band then tore into “Mountain Jam,” a lyric-free, improvisational tune from the 1971 live album, “At Fillmore East.” The song spanned approximately half an hour, building and shrinking in speed, volume and intensity. Oteil Burbridge moved from bass guitar to drums, engaging in battling solos with percussionist Jaimoe; Butch Trucks pounded on a large timpani drum.