By: Wes Orshoski
March 23, 2006
While fans of the Allman Brothers Band have long treasured its annual residency at New York’s Beacon Theatre, they might remember this year’s stand as the best yet.
Since opening the 14-night stand on March 9 with an appearance by longtime Howlin’ Wolf guitarist Hubert Sumlin, the Allmans have welcomed a parade of guests, including Taj Mahal, Ben Harper, Mountain’s Leslie West, Susan Tedeschi, former ABB/current Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell and jazzman Bernard Purdie.
On March 13, exactly 35 years after the recording of the band’s legendary album “At Fillmore East,” the Allmans upped the ante and performed the set in its entirety.
“Christ, did that kick my ass,” drummer Butch Trucks tells Billboard.com with a chuckle. “We played the whole ‘Fillmore East’ album for the first set and then came back in the second set and really jammed. We went back and listened to the album and realized that some of the songs had morphed into something else. So we tried to be a little bit more true to the record on songs like ‘You Don’t Love Me.'”
Mixing in both ABB staples with obscure album tracks and such choice covers as the Band’s “The Weight,” Derek and the Dominos’ “Anyday” and Wolf’s “Smokestack Lightin’,” this year’s run has impressed even the Allmans.
“I don’t know what happened,” Trucks says, “but last Saturday night, [drummer] Roy Haynes got up and sat in with us, and all of a sudden, everything jumped up four of five notches, and hasn’t come down since. This past week has been the most incredible week of music that I’ve ever been through. I mean, I’ve had nights where it’s just been unbelievable, but I’ve never been through an extended period of time like this. Everything we try works.”
With this year’s stand continuing through Sunday (March 26), Trucks promises still more surprises, but is tight-lipped with specifics. He did quell rumors about a guest appearance from Eric Clapton, with whom his nephew and ABB guitarist Derek Trucks has recently been collaborating.
“On Saturday and Sunday, a very special guest is gonna be there,” he says. “We’re gonna finish this off with a bang. He’s a friend that goes way back. He was one of [late band founder] Duane Allman’s close personal friends.”