Whither The Brothers in 2005? A question worth pondering after the breakthrough year of 2003, those prodigious gains consolidated throughout 2004 and the apparently ever-widening future of ABB to be shaped beginning, as it does every March, at The Beacon Theatre in New York City
2005 is shaping up to be a busy one for ABB just in terms of their own touring schedule. Although the annual run at the off-Broadway theatre, as of this writing, is shorter than the past couple, the Allmans are scheduled to headline their self-organized (via drummer Butch Trucks) two-day Wanee Festival in mid-April and have already been announced as headliners for Bonnaroo in mid-June; this all occurs before their usual summer shed run, which last year extended further than usual when they co- headlined dates with Lynyrd Skynyrd in October.
Scheduling time for all these musicians to work together as ABB may be something of an obstacle and a healthy concern to be sure, highlighted by Gregg's return to the road with his Friends this winter after a year off in 2004. Yet the namesake of the band has mentioned more than once the expected preparation and recording of a new studio album prior to and just after this spring's run at the Beacon.
ABB struck a spectacular one-two punch in 2003 with a string of scintillating performances at the Beacon, from which came a splendid DVD, appearing six months after the release of Hittin' The Note , the first Allmans studio album in nine years at that point: received with almost unanimous plaudits, the comparative brevity with which it was recorded and produced bodes well for a timely release of this next project?: even if it is somewhat unrealistic to expect a new cd out by year's end to capitalize upon what looks to be another banner year for The Brothers, in the short term, the prospsect of new material to be unveiled in March only heightens anticipation fot the upcoming shows. The ABB run at The Beacon has become the testing ground for new additions to their repertoire in preparation for the year's tour(s) to come.
Gov't Mule still flourishes under the tutelage of Warren Haynes and that quartet will continue to tour to support their recently-released Deja Voodoo , as will Derek Trucks with his band: road warriors all, DTB has rumored plans to record in the studio in the coming months and you have to wonder here they will find the time, much less devote some hours to be part of an Allman studio session.
Meanwhile, Oteil Burbridge focuses his attention on his own Peacemakers band , hitting the road this winter after appearing on Jam Cruise as part of the Aquarium Rescue Unit, enacting something of a package tour with the Robert Walter/Mike Clark Prescription Trio.
Rumors of personnel shakeups within the current Allman Brothers appear to be fatuous, based solely on former ABB guitarist Jack Pearson's appearance with the band last September. If anything, Hayne's multiple appearances with GAAF during their NYC run suggests even further strengthening of the bond between the two men as collaborators on the writing of new material as well as the recording and playing of it, in the studio and the often spectacular concerts over the last two years.
The Allman Brothes Band consolidated their one-of a kind comeback last year, in part by taking some choice cover material and making it their own: turning "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down'" into a Southern autobiography, reaching back to Duane's session work for "I Walk on Gilded Splinters" (recorded by Johnny Jenkins with Skydog), then marrying Derek & the Dominos' "Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad'?"with Grateful Dead's "Franklin's Tower"; those moments, as memorable as they were, could not compare to the segue from "High Cost of Low Living'" into a reprise of "Mountain Jam'" one beautiful night at the Beacon.
The Allman Brothers Band have faced the daunting prospect of staring down their ghosts more than once in their career, and did so once again last autumn as the current lineup reintroduced classic songs from Eat a Peach for the first time since the departure guitarist Dickey Betts. Collectively valiant and musically resourceful, it does indeed sound and look like the road goes on forever for The Allman Brothers Band.