By Steve Winkler
I’ve wanted to write or post this article somewhere for quite some time so that fans of the Allman Brothers Band could read it and reflect on it. I’ve been a musician for 25 years now and love playin’ the blues. I have never heard or seen a band that emulates all that is great about the blues and the South like the Allmans. After all, blues came out of the South and of all the bands you’ve ever heard, tell me who does “That Blues Thang” better than the Allmans? Needless to say, they were my favorite band in high school and probably had the biggest influence on me musically.
Although I grew up in the upper South (Alexandria, Va), the Allmans’ music is and has always been a big connection to some of my family roots in the deep South (Northeast FL / Southern GA). The melodic scales of Dickey Betts and the Duane’s crying slide and lead solos, really emulate what the South and especially the deep South, means to me.
Songs like “Jessica” take me back to those summer family reunions at Grandma’s house in the land of live oaks & alligators, (Fernandina Beach FL) where for 2 or 3 weeks I would “Leave My Blues at Home” for the sleepy, balmy deep South. Man there was nothin’ like toolin’ down I-95 the first week of June every year, listening to “Southbound” thinking about hitting the beach in FL, while all my friends from the D.C. area would have to settle for Ocean City, MD. Yes, the “Road Goes on Forever” when you’re a “Midnight Rider” driving 12 to 14 hours through the Southeast to get there. But what was better than 2 or 3 weeks of sun & fun at Grandma’s enjoying okra soup and fried chicken’ with “Revival” & “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” playing in my head?
But I think more than any other Allman Brothers Band recording, the blues sounds from “Live at the Filmore” remind me of this typical little deep Southern sea port town. Allow me to briefly share it with you. Gregg’s excellent rugged vocals and his chording on the B-3 Hammond as well Dickey and Duane’s blue’s guitar chord progressions and solo’s take me right back to my Grandma’s old Victorian house with the typical Southern wrap-around porch and the huge, old live oak in the side yard. This is the house she was born and raised in. I can hear the roosters crowing at sunrise while a balmy ocean breeze blows through the window.
Off in the distance I hear the sound of the freight train that runs by all of the old warfs on the river channel, while Grandma fusses with Uncle John over the way eggs and grits ought to be made. (Like the verse in “Statesboro Blues”, I really did have an Uncle John.) After the sub-tropical sun has baked everything outside for about 8 hours, the usual late day summer thunderstorm rolls in for about 30 minutes and then it’s a typical night in a sleepy little town in the deep, deep South. A cool night mist filters through the palms, live oaks and the huge pecan tree outside the kitchen. It’s so quiet in fact, that the neighbors’ dogs sleep in the middle of the street on the warm pavement as the “Georgia Thumpers” (huge crickets) fill the balmy night air with a quiet music all their own. You can hear another train in the distance as you drift off to sleep. Then it’s the same thing all over again the next day and the next. Timeless, just like the Allman Brothers Band’s music.