Gregg Allman is still playing the blues

Published on March 25th, 2021

By Jim Dail

So where has Gregg Allman of the famed Allman Brothers Band fame been all these years?

 “I’ve never really left,” he laughed during a recent telephone interview about his upcoming show at Spotlight 29 Casino on June 19. “Now, I’m just taking this band and rolling with them. For the last 7 ½ years I’ve been looking ahead into my main love, which is music, so I hand-picked this 9-piece band and let me tell you they are smoking!”

That’s quite a comment from a musician who made what is considered one of the best live albums ever, “At Fillmore East,” with he and his brother Duane’s group, The Allman Brothers Band; indeed, the group has had numerous classic hits such as “Ramblin’ Man” and continued solo success for decades.

“Here’s a guy playing in a smoking band for 40 years then gets a new band together,” he said. “He’s not going to stand for them to not be smoking!”

And that includes rearranging many of the iconic songs of the past.

“Now, we aren’t going to get up and play Perry Como greats, but we rearranged our songs into a Big Band sound with horns and keyboards,” he said. “You know, they came out so much better and so easy that it’s a good feeling that I am proud of. But I am still as crazy as ever.”

He had plans to do something with horns for quite some time but there was a key element.

“It was a matter of time as to when I could afford it,” he laughed.

And the formation of the group is typical of old-school bands.

 “I got the first guy and then we started beating the bushes for the next and then we got someone else and then we go three dudes and we just knew immediately we had something,” he said. “I got two of Bobby Bland’s old horn players and then a tenor player and a baritone sloop soprano. We have great musicians and a Cracker Jack trumpet player, but no alto sax. I don’t like the sound of an alto so don’t even bring it up.”

And the audiences are responding.

“The audiences are loving it, and we haven’t played a show that wasn’t sold out,” he said. “Now, there have been a couple that were not sold out and people came in after we started playing and it got sold out then!”

Of course, it’s still all about the blues, even when he ventures into jazz territory with someone like jazz player Mindi Abair and their collaboration on “Just Say When.”

“I’m proud of it, and it got nominated for a Grammy,” he said. “She called and asked me what I thought about her coming over and spending some time working on a song, and we did it and it was great.”

And it’s not just about the live shows with this band.

“We are going into Muscle Shoals studios with Don Was and the band, and we are going to do what we can lay down,” he said. “We still do it the old way as live as we can. Last time in the studio doing “Low Country Blues” we did it with T-Bone Burnett producing and guys like Dr. John in there and we did it using 2 ½-inch tape. But then we ran out of the tape and had to drive all over the place until we found some more.”

The thing is, Allman loves to play and he loves giving people good music.

“There are the diehard lovers of the Allmans, and I am going to keep giving them a place where they can see the same music sung by the same guy, only now he has a little more maturity and shall we say sophistication, more thought into it,” he said. “It’s something you have to go see.”

And it has been a long journey of fun, good music as well as tragedy.

“I love listening to music, and it’s such a shame about B.B. King,” he said. “But I love music and I love listening to everyone like Muddy Watters, Jerry Butler and Garnett Mimms.”

And he is sure a happy cat.

“I’m probably the happiest in this part of my life,” he said. “My liver transplant is healed, I’ve got a great band and friends and I can still make good music.”

And maybe even being a DJ.

“I’m hoping that they don’t shut down the Bluesville station (B.B. King’s SiriusXM station),” he said. “They actually have invited me to be a DJ, and I would love to try it and take my hand and see.

For a Nashville-born boy though, the draw to music is never going to end.

“You and take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy,” he said.


Comment guidelines, edit this message in your Wordpress admin panel