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Catching up with Gregg Allman

August 8, 2014

NEWPORT–Southern rock legend Gregg Allman will be bringing his solo band to The Newport Yachting Center on Sunday, Aug. 10 for a performance along with Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band. Allman, whose well documented, 45-year career with the Allman Brothers Band is coming to a close this fall, will be mixing in ABB classics along with songs from his various recordings with The Gregg Allman Band.
Timeout caught up with him via email last week.

TO: The Allman Brothers Band played quite an inspired set during the Newport Folk Festival in 2007. Any thoughts or memories of playing gigs or just hanging out in Newport?

GA: You know what I remember from that gig? The spectacular view from the stage. I could look out over the crowd and see all these sail boats anchored in this beautiful harbor, with the folks on them just rocking out. The water was this gorgeous blue color; it was really something else, man!

TO: What’s it like to be performing/touring with your solo band again? And how is your approach different having Scott Sharrard as lead guitarist?

GA: The thing about my band is there is only one cook in the kitchen; it makes things a lot easier. Scott Sharrard is a great player, man, and he is the perfect guitarist for what we do. I couldn’t ask for anything more from him, or anyone else in the group.

TO: Do you feel obligated to play certain Allman Brothers Band songs with your solo band? What kind of reaction to the new songs are you getting from fans?

GA: Yeah, I do feel obligated to play some Allman Brothers songs, but we have a nice mixture of songs from my solo career and some cool cover tunes to go with them. I’ve also re-arranged some of the Allman Brothers songs to better fit the sound of my band. Like “Don’t Keep Me Wondering’” - it’s now a showcase for our horn section. Jay Collins has been joined by Dennis Marion and Art Edmaiston, and those guys make things sway, man!
People have always reacted well to new songs, and they really seem to be enjoying “Love Like Kerosene,” which Scott wrote. Many times a new song becomes a bathroom break for the crowd, but not this one - it’s a killer tune, man.

TO: In general, what is your approach to songwriting? Do you sit behind the piano or B-3 or do you write with a guitar? What inspires you to write a song?

GA: I’ve always said there are as many ways to write a song as there are songs. For me, an idea for a song can strike at any time, so that is why I always keep a pen and pad around. These random thoughts come into my head, and I’ve learned that if I don’t write them down, they’ll disappear as fast as they showed up.
I basically write on the piano or the guitar; I know people see me behind a B-3 all the time, but I’ve only written two songs on the Hammond: “Dreams,” which was the first song of mine the other guys in the Allman Brothers actually liked, and “Demons,” which was on Just Before the Bullets Fly, my solo album. When I write on the guitar, I like using Open G tuning; I wrote “Midnight Rider” and “Come and Go Blues” in Open G.

TO: What are your feelings as the Allman Brothers approach their final shows at the Beacon Theatre in October?

GA: 45 years is a long time to do anything, brother; how many rock bands even come close to that number? I remember in the early days I didn’t think we’d last four months, but I was always the Doubting Thomas of the band. So I’m very proud of what we’ve done, and the last fifteen years with the current line-up have been a gas, man.

TO: At the beginning of this year, the tribute recording “All My Friends” was released with a wide variety of artists covering your music. Highlights include Taj Mahal belting out “Statesboro Blues,” and John Hiatt blazing through “One Way Out” with Audley Freed and Jack Pearson just killing it on guitars. Are there any particular songs that stand out for you on that record?

GA: How about all of them?! What a great night that was, from beginning to end. Sam Moore made “Please Call Home” so special, seeing Taj Mahal and Dr. John is always a treat, and I was really, really impressed by how well the country guys adapted to my songs. Eric Church, Trace Adkins, Vince Gill; they all kicked ass. Doing “These Days” and “Melissa” with Jackson Browne really hit home for me; I almost teared up, man! “All My Friends” is certainly a highlight of my recent years, no doubt about that.

If you go
The Gregg Allman Band will be performing Sunday, Aug. 10 at 6 p.m. at Newport Yachting Center, America’s Cup Avenue, Newport. Tickets cost $19.50 to $59.50.
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