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GREGG ALLMAN With the 'Brothers' or solo, singer channels the blues



Published: Mon, February 14, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Allman fronted a jam band before there was such a thing as a jam band.

A "Midnight Rider" for most of his 30-plus year career, Gregg Allman is a survivor. From fronting the Allman Brothers Band to marrying Cher and battling drug and alcohol addictions, this Georgia Peach has seemingly lived many lives, enduring them all.

Calling from New York City, Allman said, "Hard work and a love of music" are the reasons why he remains committed to the Allman Brothers Band, which plans on recording another album later this year, as well his touring side project "Gregg Allman & amp; Friends." The latter outfit usually hits the road in November for an annual tour.

However, this year, despite what he calls the best backing group of friends he's ever assembled, Allman admits the timing was off. His Feb. 18 show at the House of Blues comes right in the middle of winter. Still, a solo outing allows this weathered blues man the opportunity to spread his solo wings and enjoy his craft.

"That's very accurate only you have to stir in three feet of snow," Allman laughed. "I used to start in November and end at New Year's. But man, let me tell you, we definitely waited a little bit too long to get on this year. But except for the traveling, it never seems like a job. And once you get up on stage, no matter how lousy of a day you've had, how tired you might be, how long you've been out there, you start playing and it kind of makes everything worthwhile."

A different look

With half a dozen or so solo albums to his credit, 1997's "Searching For Simplicity" being the last, the famed singer and B-3 Hammond organ maestro has plenty of material to draw from within the live show, including select Allman Brothers tracks presented in a different light.

For example, the classic "Statesboro Blues" is played "real funky," with Allman offering his best southern drawl in saying the word "funky."

Along with the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers Band is equally responsible for today's jam-band scene, in which blues guitars and jazz rhythms are poked and prodded on stage for double-digit performances that seemingly never end.

Speaking to the band's legacy and sound is the fact that no matter how many lineup changes the group has gone through over the decades, and there have been plenty, you can always identify the southern rock outfit within the first few notes of any song.

Whether it be a howling guitar, throbbing organ or gravely Allman, there is no mistaking the Allman Brothers Band.

"It's strange that it still does sound like the Allman Brothers, no matter what kind of changes we make," Allman said. "I don't know really how that happens. I guess we've dug that groove so deep that a lot of people, certain musicians anyway, caught it. There are a lot of good players out there and of all of the people we've ever added or taken away from the Allman Brothers, it does keep that same sound. It's kind of a mystery to me too."

At the ripe old age of 57, which is like 75 in rock 'n' roll years, Allman may be heading towards senior citizen status but that doesn't mean he won't keep ramblin'.

"Am I slowing down or stopping? No," said Allman. "I was asked the other day when I was going to retire and I said, 'Retire from what?' Not anytime soon I don't think."




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