Letting My Hair Down with Gregg Allman

At last Friday night’s concert with main liner Hank Williams Jr. at the Pensacola Bay Arena, there’s no doubt most of the crowd came to see Bocephus. The line for over-priced t-shirts and caps sporting Hank’s logo was long and rowdy as was to be expected. And unlike some concerts of the past, which truth be told neither he nor I remember that well due to our own poor choices, he delivered a solid show.

But in all due respect to the Man of Steel and Riviera Redneck Rebel, it was Gregg Allman that stole the night. Full disclosure here, I am particularly fond of blues music.

I knew the night would be special when Allman took the stage with his hair down. After opening with I’m No Angel, he picked up the guitar and followed with Statesboro Blues, — superb! (As I said, I love the blues, and for my money, you can’t  get any better than the Allman Brothers Band cover of Blind Willie McTell’s classic ode to his adopted hometown.)

Allman then proceeded to deliver a wonderful retrospective of stellar songs from his more than four decades career. And joy upon joy, not one single medley included. (Sorry, Hank, but I really hate medleys. Pick a song and sing it.)

Now, I’m sure most of Friday night’s attendees would disagree with me. Most didn’t watch Hank and wish Gregg Allman would take the stage again. It’s not that I hated Williams’ show, but I just have this thing about liking to hear a song all the way through. And at some point during the performance, it started sounding like someone going through radio stations really fast. Just not my thing.

I was also a little disappointed that Williams and Allman didn’t perform a couple of songs together. I know Hank has covered a couple of Gregg Allman songs (Come and Go Blues and Midnight Rider) and thought maybe this would be a good chance for collaboration, but no such luck on that front.

My all time favorite Gregg Allman performance of Come and Go Blues.

Side Note: If you’ve never seen the Gregg Allman studio jam of Come and Go Blues, you are missing out on something special. Apparently, this was captured when there were some technical difficulties occurring at 2 minutes in on a studio jam with Dickie Betts, Gregg Allman and Dan Toler in 1982. When they were told to take a break while the problem was addressed, Allman started jamming alone. It is magic. You are welcome.

Another Side Note: Some stats from Rolling Stone: Gregg Allman is #70 on 100 Greatest Singers of All Time; The Allman Brothers Band is #52 on The Immortals list; The Allman Brothers Band is #53 on Greatest Artists of All Time; The Allman Brothers Band cover of Statesboro Blues was #9 for Greatest Guitar Song of All Time (Derek and the Dominos, Layla was #13 with Duane Allman playing steel guitar to Eric Clapton’s lead, just saying).

But back to the concert. All in all, it was a great evening, and I would definitely go again should the two come back this way. And there’s no way I’d miss out on seeing Gregg Allman perform again. He was great at the Saenger back in December and seems to be in the zone these days.

I may, however, have to skip out on the second part of Hank’s show next time to beat the traffic and the medleys.

But let me make this clear — I love Hank! When my son was three, he could sing every song from every Hank Williams record ever made — Jr and Sr. I listened to him on Spotify all the way to the show. So, please don’t rescind my Alabama driver’s license. And should Williams ever decide to just sing his songs (heck, he can even rearrange them as Dylan does to break the monotony) — well, that’d be a show I’d love to see.


4 Thoughts to “Letting My Hair Down with Gregg Allman”

  1. I’ve seen Hank Jr in concert many times in my youth. Back then he usually got drunk by the end of the show and sat on a stool and sang. I had at that point (and still have) every album Hank Jr had ever released (even pre-mountain fall) though they were all in cassette form. His music lost its edge, I think, when he started winning Entertainer of The Year and sobered up. Great for him, but sometimes music needs to be rooted in personal turmoil, don’t you think?

    1. I agree completely. I too have all Hank’s albums (Jr and Sr) and yes, there is something lacking in the later work. Judging from my own experience with writing, the best work comes when I’m willing to go behind the mask and write about something real — and that’s hard work. (For a great songwriter who sobered up, but retained his edge, check out Jason Isbell’s Southeastern – on my blog post from 6/16/13).

      Isbell’s record shows you can effectively capture the turmoil of past experiences and the experiences of others who touch your life, and write raw, moving songs even while your own life is running smoothly. Of course, I think having come through some turmoil and survived, gives him an edge. I’m so excited Isbell is coming to Mobile again in October. Already have tix and am looking forward to reviewing his show!

      Thanks for the comment. Rock on!

  2. Roseanne Salyer

    Thanks for the great review. I have never seen either live, but I have seen many videos and have all of Gregory’s albums. Have you heard ‘Low Country Blues”? An amazing homage to great old time blues men, as well as one song by Allman and Warren Haynes.
    By the by, I have seen that 1982 jam of “Come and Go Blues” a hundred times. Has there ever been a sexier man? Even now. Once again, thanks.

    1. Thanks for the comment. Yes, I love ‘Low Country Blues’! I was especially happy to see he had covered Skip James’ ‘Devil Got My Woman’ on the new record. I had used the Skip James’ song ‘Hard Time Killin Floor Blues’ in my book, Flamingo Funeral. Love the Bentonia Blues music.

      He also sang ‘Wasted Words’ which along with ‘Pony Boy’ was used in my short story ‘Graduating’ in the book. I had the opportunity to meet and talk with his son Devon back in December when I saw him in Mobile. He is also a gifted musician and his band opened for Gregg Allman.

      You should try to see him if you get the chance. One of the best shows I’ve seen lately. I promise you won’t regret it!

      Thanks for reading. Rock on.

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