The Allman Brothers Band: 40 Years Out
Based on recent comments by band members, it appears that this year's 40th anniversary might be the band's last great push. It seems likely they will continue their annual NYC run, but shorten their summer tour schedule and gradually allow things to wind down.
Unfortunately for Allman Brothers' fans, 2009 marked the end of the band's string of 188 consecutive sold out shows at the Beacon Theater. The Beacon will become the home of the Cirque Du Soleil and the Allman Brothers will need to find another venue. Fortunately, this year's Beacon run was captured for posterity on video and it was a magnificent testimony to what took place in Macon 40 years ago and the impact the band has had on the music world. They could walk away now with pride and satisfaction.
On the other hand, thinking back to Duane Allman and the magic that happened at the Beacon this year, it caused me to wonder if there might be a way to keep this special bit of American music alive for another decadeeven if it were just their annual New York run broadcast around the globe.
Looking back, just as Dickey Betts was taking the Allman Brothers down a twangier path, Chuck Leavell, Jaimoe and Lamar Williams were actually taking what Duane Allman did in an interesting and more complex direction. Unfortunately, they were impelled to leave the Allman Brothers and form Sea Level in order to do so. I would encourage Duane Allman fans to dust off their old Sea Level albums or buy a "Best Of" CD and listen closely to songs like "Rain in Spain," "Tidal Wave," "Storm Warning," and "Midnight Pass." It is merely speculation, but my musical sensibilities tell me that Duane Allman would have been completely on board with that much of what Sea Level was about.
For that reason I would love to see the band expand their NYC run to include some permanent special guests who would be there for the entire runessentially an expansion of a band, but with a very condensed schedule. The obvious first choice would be Chuck Leavell because of his amazing chemistry and longstanding connection with the band. Moreover, considering that Sea Level was made up of three former members of the Allman Brothers, it would be both fitting and refreshing if some of their most memorable music was integrated into the Allman Brothers' setlist.
Two other veterans from the early days in Macon also come to mind. Randall Bramblett (Chuck and Jaimoe's band mate from Sea Level) isn't just a fine keyboard and saxophonist, he is also a first rate and highly prolific song writer. Randall has a wealth of material post Sea Level from which the Allman Brothers could also draw. Another Macon veteran who would be a great addition is Jimmy Hall, a powerful blues singer, and a fine blues harp and saxophonist. Finally, adding someone like Mark Pender, trumpet, vocals, and acoustic guitar would mean a horn section, another soloist, and very deep bench for vocals. With that pool of talent it is not only easy to imagine the band celebrating a 50th anniversary, but perhaps even taking Duane Allman's original musical vision to new and greater heights and enjoying themselves in the process.
That would be my personal fantasy, but the band has been around for 40 years and they've proved they know what they are doing. Congratulations to them for four decades of performing and a well deserved place in the history of American music.
Top Photo: Moogis screen captures
Young Derek Trucks: Carl Lender
Allman Brothers Gold: Stepale
Historic Fillmore Billboard: Eddie Berman
Final Stage Photo: Allman Brothers Band
All Other Photos: Courtesy of Moogis screen captures