Published on October 10th, 2012 | by Doug Walters0
Gregg Allman Mellows Out at the PAC
Legendary Southern soul man Gregg Allman (of the Allman Brothers) led his current backing band through a full set of classic cuts, blues standards, and new material at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center on Tues. Oct. 9. The lineup featured vocalist Floyd Miles, lead guitarist Scott Sharrard, bassist Jerry Jemmott, keyboardist Bruce Katz, drummer Steve Potts, and sax man Jay Collins-Horns. Allman Brothers percussionist Jaimoe Johanson’s jazzy soul/funk band Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band opened the show.
Local singer/guitarist and Metronome buddy Doug “Street D” Walters (of Torture Town and the Fairy God Muthas) was at the concert with his eyes and ears wide open. He reported to us today.
On his first impression of Gregg Allman and his band during their opening tunes at the PAC:
I thought Gregg looked good. Real good, all things considered. Skinnier than I’ve ever seen him. I like the first song, “Floating Bridge.” I thought that was one of the better songs on his latest album, Lowcountry Blues. They kinda got a little turned around on the last verse but they covered it up good enough.”
On some of the highlights and not-so-great moments of the set:
The band was good but they weren’t very exciting to watch. But it’s always been more about the music than the show with Allman. Though part of me wants to see a show and be moved on all levels — visually and otherwise — I’ve always liked Gregg’s introverted, shy, casual style. I like how he’s just him and doesn’t try to be anything more. He’s a very lovable dude, so just seeing him was cool, even if it was a little mild and mellow. Seeing him looking good was a plus.
On Allman’s singing and playing:
I was most impressed with how strong Gregg’s pipes were. He sounds as good as ever, if not better. I think his ear may even be better than its ever been. There were a lot of cool little things — little bends and subtle things that were nice. I was impressed with his vocals. His control, tone, and strength were all right on time.
On the mix of songs in the set:
I think most times when you see a band perform, a lot of your connection or disconnection to it comes down to the material. I didn’t think the song selection was that strong or interesting on Wednesday night. There were some lulls. Not much fire or pep. Pretty mild. Lots of shuffles. More jazzy dominant and major-key stuff. With maybe a bit much on the piano. A lot of times, I’ll leave a performance wishing I could have made the set list. This was the case here. I’ve seen Gregg kill before. In fact, when he played at Desperado’s in 1994 with the amazing Jackie Pearson, it was of the best live performances I’d ever seen. It just smoked. And had the fire. But this time it seemed a little too mellow, and on a bigger stage with sit-down seating, it can get a little low-energy.
I think he’s one of the all time best at slow minor blues. Like “Dreams.” But there wasn’t any of that. I was a little disappointed about that. But then again, I think Gregg has earned the right to do exactly what he wants, and I think he should express himself exactly how he wants. I thought the new arrangement of “Whipping Post” was pretty interesting. It worked.
I love Gregg. It’s cool just to see him. He looked happy and in control. That’s good enough for me.
On Allman’s newly enlisted lead guitarist Scott Sharrard:
Gregg always has a great guitar player on board. The cat with him Wednesday was awesome. Very tasty. Great tone, great touch, great blues player. Real clean. He had a lot of different cool things in his bag. Some Duane, some Clapton, and some Albert King things were noticeable. The double-stops stuff and the hybrid picking stuff was very cool. His slide playing was great. But he was very modest about it all. He never went too long. In fact he did the opposite; he cut everything short. Too short at times. I would have liked to hear him stretch out a bit more. But I always dug a guy that doesn’t wear out his welcome. It’s kinda easy to sound good on minor-scale stuff, but sometimes it’s harder to sound good and un-boring on major or dominant things. He handled all this real nice, and he had the crucial behind the beat feel down real nice.
It didn’t hurt that he looked like a taller Stan Gray [a longtime Charleston songwriter and music journalist]. I liked him before he even plugged in. His tone and playing were high points for sure.
Photos by Melanie Crowley/courtesy of the North Charleston Coliseum.
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