Southern Blood: A Tribute to the words and Music of Gregg Allman

Alan Paul on February 14, 2018

Southern Blood: A Tribute to the words and Music of Gregg Allman caused quite a stir when it was announced for City Winery New York. A benefit for the Gammy Museum held during Grammy Week, the event caused a ticket frenzy.

The event started with a panel discussion hosted by Scott Goldman of the Grammy Museum and featuring Scott Sharrard, Allman’s musical director and guitarist, Allman offspring Devon and Layla Allman, and Luther and Cody Dickinson. After about half hour discussion, the music started at 8:45 with a house band of Sharrard, drummer Sean Pelton, bassist Brett Bass and keyboardist Peter Levin. Levin and Bass were also members of Allman’s solo band.

The too-short musical portion emphasized Gregg’s more song-based solo career, rather than the Allman Brothers lengthy guitar jams and in that was totally true to Gregg’s final years and his true artistic heart. The quartet opened with two songs, Allman’s revamped “Whipping Post” featuring solos by Levin and Sharrard, and “My Only True Friend,” the moving farewell penned by Sharrad and Allman and featured on the posthumous album Southern Blood.

The first guests of the night were bluegrass chanteuse Allison Krause and Australian acoustic guitar wizard Tommy Emmanuel, who combined for a mesmerizing “Come and Go Blues,” a true highlight of the night, evoking the song’s heartbreak and longing. Graham Nash emerged for Jackson Browne’s elegiac “Song for Adam,” which Allman and Browne sing as a duet on Southern Blood. Though Nash’s pristine voice wasn’t all there, his phrasing and emotive phrasing were spot-on and Krauss added some sparkling harmonies.

Warren Haynes, the man with the longest and deepest Allman connection of the night, with almost 25 years as a member of the Allman Brothers Band, was up next. He performed “Just Another Rider,” a song he and Allman co-wrote for the latter’s Low Country Blues solo album. The Dickinson brothers joined the band for a slamming “Hot ‘Lanta.”

Southside Johnny, maybe subbing for Jackie Greene, who bowed out when his wife went into labor, struggled through “Trouble No More.” Allman offsprings Layla and Devon performed, with the latter sporting a mountain man beard and leading a rousing “One Way Out.” Everyone came on stage for an excellent, haunting “Midnight Rider,” with Haynes taking the lead and Krauss again offering excellent harmonies.

Before the final song – oddly Dickey Betts’ “Southbound” – both Luther Dickinson and Haynes appropriately acknowledged Butch Trucks; it was the first anniversary of his death, a tragic occurrence that started a very sad year in Allman Brothers land. For the fans packed into City Winery, Southern Blood: A Tribute to the words and Music of Gregg Allman was another step in a lengthy grieving process.