Gregg Allman & Friends

8 December 2006

Santa Fe Station Casino, Las Vegas, NV


I saw the Allman Brothers Band in concert a couple times in the 1990s, but I have to say that I had much more appreciation for this Gregg Allman solo show.

For a long time, I've thought of Gregg as a uniquely talented musician, deserving much more attention than a 7-piece Southern Rock ensemble could offer.

Between Summer Tours, Gregg tours as "Gregg Allman & Friends", permitting the stage to showcase his unique voice and gift for sitting behind the Hammand B3 organ. Tonight's "Friends" included drummer Steve "Smokey" Potts as well as vocalist/percussionist Floyd Miles, whom Gregg has been a fan of since childhood.

As a B3 master, Gregg is more of a rhythmic, moody player than the dramatic, lead playing work of likes of say, Steve Winwood, Michael Finnigan, or even Booker T. Jones. The opener to this evening's setlist, a somewhat slow "I'm No Angel", sitting behind the keyboard, much as if he were in a cube farm, plucking away every once in a while, taking a swig of a beverage here and there, Allman seemed content to play "below the radar".

Gregg picked a really nice setlist, including covers of an old Clarence Carter hit, "Slip Away", and Bob Dylan's "Just Like A Woman"--outstanding interpretations.

Both my friend Doug and I wished we'd heard his cover of Jackson Browne's "These Days". Doug brought this song to my attention recently, and he and I agree that it is an achingly painful blues ballad made as strong as it is only by Allman's unique gifts.

During the show, Gregg wandered only a few feet from his "desk", to pick very nice acoustic versions of his autobiographical "Laid Back", my favorite song of his, "Melissa", and his solo version of "Midnight Rider". In fact, "Midnight Rider" clearly distinguishes a Gregg Allman solo show from an Allman Brothers Band jam show. Allman solo is much moodier, bluesy, and fit for a nightclub like this evening's venue, the "Chrome Showroom".

During tonight's festivities, which served to celebrate Gregg's 59th Birthday, also attending the show was Gregg's 30-year old son with Cher, Elijah Blue.

More keyboard songs included "Multi-Colored Lady" [Cher?], "Island", "House Of Blues", a short version of "Dreams", and an encore of a short version of "Whippin' Post". Not the Southern Rock extended jams, but the bluesy, tight band performances.

Doug and I happened to run into Gregg after the show. He is in person as he is on stage, very "Laid Back", easy-goin', seemingly happy to be alive, and grateful for what life has to offer. I appreciate such an ethic, and wish more people in this world could subscribe to such.

[**** 1/2] - Steven T.

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