Soul survivor, Greg Allman, a name synonymous with many styles of music; southern rock, boogie rock, jam, and blues. 40 plus years of writing and touring have earned him a musical resume that is both memorable and meaningful. After conquering some health issues last year that included a liver transplant and weathering well documented personal tragedy and band turmoil Allman seemed road ready and happy to be tickling the keys for an appreciative audience.
Tonight’s Royce Hall performance is part of a California/Nevada trek that will include San Diego, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Napa, and Lake Tahoe. He wasted no time getting the crowd’s attention opening with “I’m No Angel” from 1987. It was obvious this scaled down affair was not an attempt at Allman Brothers Band intensity as he gave some of the older material new arrangements and a mellower tempo. I’m happy to report his crusty growl is firmly intact as he alternated from back and forth from guitar and his hammond B 3 organ. Arguably one of the best white blues vocalists still kickin, he was well respected and well received even getting a shout out from the back of the hall, “You sound sweet Greg.”
Allman offered up a mixed bag of material; about one third of the 19 song set was ABB material including “Statesboro Blues”, “Melissa”, and “Whipping Post.” The current band features Scott Sharrard on guitar, Bruce Katz on keys, Jay Collins on horns, Steve Potts on drums, Jerry Jemmott on bass and Floyd Miles on percussion and vocals, and the 2-hour set was a group effort from start to finish.
Floyd Miles, who Allman has “played with since he was 14” took the band through the blues flavors of Muddy Waters “I Can’t Be Satisfied” and two from his 1994 release, “Back to Daytona”. Allman’s daughter Layla held her own on a cover of Elmore James’ “The Sky is Crying” and Dad dug a little deeper swapping vocals with his daughter.
The cuts off his T-Bone Burnett produced “Low Country Blues” from 2012 “Tears.Tears.Tears”,”Can’t Be Satisfied”, and “Floating Bridge”, held up favorably with the other selections and showed some of Allman’s strongest song writing of his career. Surprise guest Tal Wilkenfeld joined Allman’s talented band on bass for one of the evening’s highpoints on “Just Before the Bullets Fly”. The 26 year old Australian prodigy has demonstrated her amazing talents with both Jeff Beck and Chick Corea.
Mr. Allman has also joined the ranks of fellow rockers like Keith Richards, Pete Townsend, Sammy Hagar, Neil Young, and other notables writing memoirs of his colorful life and times. “Not My Cross to Bear”, also released last year, finds the aging songster sharing internal reflections and creative insights behind the curtain of rock stardom. Hats off to Allman for bringing the blues to life as he has lived them giving the evening’s performance unparalleled credibility and poignance.
I’m No Angel -Statesboro Blues
Tears, Tears, Tears
These Days – I Can’t Be Satisfied
You Must Be Crazy - (with Floyd Miles)
Samson – Demons
Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’
Queen of Hearts
Back to Daytona
The Sky Is Crying (With Layla Allman)
Before the Bullets Fly
(with Tal Wilkenfeld)
(Sleepy John Estes cover)
One Way Out
(Elmore James cover)