The Allman Brothers Band

The Allmans’ Long and Winding Road

By Eric R. Danton, Courant Rock Critic
19 August 2004 – The Hartford Courant

THE ALLMAN BROTHERS are at Oakdale Sunday. The band consists of, from left: Gregg Allman, Butch Trucks, Jaimoe, Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes, Oteil Burbridge and Marc Quinones.

The Tex-Mex band Los Lonely Boys recently canceled plans to open for the Allman Brothers Band on the second leg of the latter’s summer tour.

Gregg Allman emits a throaty chuckle when he hears the reason why the increasingly popular band pulled out: Los Lonely Boys were exhausted after close to 13 months on the road.

“I remember when I was that age,” Allman, 56, says from his home in Savannah, Ga., before starting a tour that comes to Wallingford Sunday. “Nineteen-seventy, we did 306 nights. And most of those were probably freebies. We just got around and got people to seeing us.”

Nearly everything about the Allman Brothers, and the music industry as a whole, has changed since 1970. In a sense, then, the Allmans’ recent spate of vintage concert recordings is a tribute to that less programmed era of music. The live albums include 1970 shows at American University and the International Pop Festival and 1971 performances from State University of New York at Stony Brook, as well as a seminal set from the Atlanta Pop Festival in 1970, which is considered one of the band’s shining moments.

“Other people might say that, but we had to wake up off the cold hard ground at 4:30 in the morning to go play, so I beg to differ,” Allman says with another raspy laugh. “That was back in the beginning of music festivals and they weren’t totally arranged as well as they are today.”

The Allmans today bear little resemblance to the band on those classic recordings. Slide guitar wizard Duane Allman is gone, of course, having died in a motorcycle accident in 1971, and original bassist Berry Oakley died a year later. There have been other personnel changes over the years, too, including the 2000 dismissal of guitarist Dickey Betts, an original member. Guitar duties now fall to Derek Trucks (nephew of drummer Butch Trucks) and once-and-future Allmans member Warren Haynes. That suits Gregg Allman just fine, and he leaves little room for any reconciliation with Betts.

“There won’t be,” he says. “One of the main reasons we did it is, if we hadn’t of, there would be no band, because I was going. I was headed out, and so was Butch.”

Instead of heading out of the band, Allman, Butch Trucks and the others can spend a significant amount of time heading out on tour. Although the group has played the amphitheater in Hartford every year since it opened, it opted to play the more intimate careerbuilder.com Oakdale Theatre this summer. There are certain advantages to playing indoors, Allman says.

“It’s harder to play slow songs in the daytime,” he says. “It’s hard to get that feeling going until the sun goes down and the lights come up. When you’re inside, of course, it’s nice and cozy.”

Inside or out, the band plays the same blues-based rock ‘n’ roll it always has. Just don’t call the Allman Brothers a jam band. Or a Southern rock band.

“First of all, we’re not a jam band. We’re a band that jams, and we just love to play,” Allman says. “And as for Southern rock, rock ‘n’ roll was born in the South. I don’t know who came up with that. Maybe it was just a place to put our records in the stores.”

The Allman Brothers Band performs Sunday at careerbuilder.com Oakdale Theatre, 95 South Turnpike Road, Wallingford. Tickets are $35 for the 7:30 p.m. show. Information: 203-265-1501.

Copyright 2004, The Hartford Courant. All Rights Reserved.

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