Wednesday, November 19, 2014

RECORD REVIEW: Tom Sharpe "Lifting the World"

TOM SHARPE
Lifting the World
Marathon Records 

Blending a progressive
rock sensibility with
intricate percussion 
and an undeniable
choral majesty, the
latest from Tom 
Sharpe is a symphony 
of world music — truly
a breath of "fresh aire."
_______________________

Through his longtime work with the platinum-selling New Age ensemble Mannheim Steamroller and iconic former Styx frontman Dennis DeYoungTom Sharpe has earned an impeccable reputation over the years as an in-demand multi-instrumentalist and composer. In 2002, his debut solo record, Like Setting Myself on Fire, met with considerable critical acclaim. And in 2014, the award-winning Chicago-based musician returns with his sophomore effort.

"Music to me is pure passion and emotion."
-Tom Sharpe

Produced by Bryan Robb, Lifting the World is "lifting," indeed. Throughout the record, Sharpe's intricate drum and percussion work is at times reminiscent of Bill Bruford's with King Crimson major bonus points, for sure. Additionally, his piano and keyboard performances and arrangements are equally superb. Violinist Jennifer Page and cellist Amanda Nelson are also due huge kudos for their amazing and often chilling contributions  BRAVO!

Of its many highlights, certain selections pop out consistently with each listen. Possessing a distinctive tribal vibe, "World Speak" is an all-drum and percussion composition and makes for a perfect opening track.

"It seems that Lifting the World is reaching listeners 
right at their hearts, which is great to hear." 
-Tom Sharpe

"Lifting the World Pt. I" is a compelling eight-minute opus. The powerful drum work combined with mighty orchestral and choral arrangements makes for one of the record's most impressive highlights. In fact, I've personally chosen this particular composition as the official intro track for my own band's upcoming 30th anniversary concert run.

Multi-instrumentalist and 
composer, Tom Sharpe
Clocking in at seven minutes, "Three Stories" is a majestic aural roller coaster ride. The track opens with a delicate string and piano section, then transports listeners briefly to the Orient  only to build suddenly to a crashing orchestral crescendo. Then, with one's blood pumping and heart racing, Sharpe delivers the listener gently back to the beginning  amid an equally delicate piano outro.

Another of the record's brightest high- lights, "The Cathedral Is Where You Are" delivers a brilliantly tear-jerking string intro that segues seamlessly into lush orchestration, peppered with epic Enigma-style vocals.

Organic, emotional and captivating, Lifting the World serves as a beautiful and engaging personal soundtrack to the listener's own private movie.

-Christopher Long
(November 2014)



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Sunday, November 16, 2014

CONCERT REVIEW: Heart - 11.12.14 (Guest Post)

Nancy Wilson of Heart
(Photos: Michelle Wilson)
HEART
Maxwell C. King Center
Melbourne, FL / 11.12.14

Guest writer Michelle Wilson
and I rarely see eye to eye
when it comes to rock and 
roll. Michelle has a passion 
for whiskey-soaked, down 
and dirty blues, while I live
for guitar-driven, crunchy pop. 
But there is ONE thing on 
which we do agree. We're both
completely nuts about Heart.
___________________

Ann Wilson
Many bands from the 1970s are still out there rockin’ and bringin’ the house down, while others, not so much. Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart, the rock chick sisters born in California and raised in Seattle, definitely fall into the first category. I had never seen Heart in concert, and I wasn’t sure what to expect from Ann’s voice live. But not only are her vocals still pristine, they are better than ever. And I would be remiss not to mention Nancy, who still looks years younger than her 60, yes I said 60, years old, and still plays like a bad-ass and sings like an angel. What I found most remarkable about the Wilson sisters, and particularly Ann, is their comfortable, easy stage pres-ence. From my third row seat, I could readily observe the way in which Ann looked directly at people and genuinely enjoyed it, even after all these years. It’s hard to explain, but it’s not often that I’ve seen an entertainer engage in this manner. It felt as if we were all her bffs and just hanging out in her living room listening to her sing.

Brynn Marie
Opening the show at 8pm and playing an incredible 30-minute set was Nashville-based up-and-coming singer Brynn Marie. Keep your eye on this one and remember her name, because her star is rising fast. There was nothing about her that I didn’t love   gorgeous, talented and genuine, she is the real deal. Accompanied by Josh Roberts on acoustic guitar and backing vocals, it was a pleasure to hear and watch this young woman whose on-stage presence and off-the-chain vocals were that of a seasoned pro. She has traveled overseas to dazzle American troops and has a single out entitled “Bandaid on a Bullet Hole” off her 6-track collection, Things Change. It is always re- freshing when a little-known opening act starts a show in stellar fashion, and that is just what Brynn Marie did.
Nancy Wilson and Craig Bartock

Taking the stage at 8:50, Heart launched directly into “Barracuda” and kicked off their portion of the night with a high-energy, action-packed per- formance that had the crowd on its feet for much of the evening. Fans even stood up against the stage, a rare exception for the generally strict King Center. Rounding out the rest of the band are lead guitarist Craig Bartock, bassist Dan Rothchild, drummer Ben Smith and Debbie Shair on keys. Hit upon hit had the audience loving every moment, including “Heartless,” “What About Love,” “Magic Man,” “Even It Up,” “Kick It Out,” “Straight On” and “Crazy on You.” Other aural treats included “Dreamboat Annie,” with Nancy on acoustic guitar and Ann on flute, a lovely, slower acoustic version of “Alone,” “These Dreams” featuring Nancy on mandolin and Ann on acoustic guitar and “Heaven,” with Ann on autoharp / dulcimer and Nancy sitting and playing acoustic guitar with a bow. The other real gems (as if everything wasn’t a gem) were covers of Robin Trower’s “Day of the Eagle” from 1974’s Bridge of Sighs and Paul McCartney’s “Let Me Roll It” from 1973’s iconic Band on the Run. The McCartney cover featured Nancy on guitar and vocals, and was an unexpected yet thrilling addition. 

As is their signature encore set these days, the band returned to the stage to wrap things up by 10:30 with three Led Zeppelin covers: "Immigrant Song" off 1970's Led Zeppelin III, "No Quarter" from 1973's Houses of the Holy and finally "Misty Mountain Hop," which appears on 1971's Led Zeppelin IV. Being a huge Zep fan myself, I had moved up and was plastered to the front of the stage, singin' along and lovin' every minute of it. I did think that "No Quarter" was an oddly mellow song choice, however, they absolutely slayed it. I walked out of this show filled with the euphoria of a music lover who had just experienced one of the greatest concerts ever. My only regret is that I had never seen them sooner. My friend Mark Miller mentioned that his 27-year-old niece recently had seen Heart, and he nailed the core of this band with these few words: "their sound transcends ages." Indeed it does, Mark.

-Michelle Wilson
(November 2014)
___________________________________________________________________

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Do you have something to say, something to get off your chest or an amazing story to share? From pop culture views and reviews to political commentary to messages of faith, my blog is a great platform for writers to showcase their work. There are very limited criteria for submitting a post. Your views don't even have to be in line with mine—just create and contribute a compelling, well-written story. Interested? Send me and email.

-Chris
_______________________________________________________________________

Thursday, November 13, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: "Life Is In The Blood" by Larry Ollison

  
LIFE IS IN 
THE BLOOD
Larry Ollison

__________________________
  
I recently discovered
this 2001 "faith guide" 
as part of my Bible
College curriculum.
Powerful, compelling
and effective — ah 
yes, the truth will set
you free, indeed.
__________________________



Author Larry Ollison is the founder and Senior Pastor of Walk on the Water Faith Church in Osage Beach, Missouri. And through the pages of Life Is In The Blood, he breaks down the walls of religious doctrine to reveal beautiful, honest and simple truths — nailing down his key points — the power in the name of Jesus, the power of His blood and the power of the Word — all in an engaging, no-nonsense, conversational style. 

"We need to know the Word, but we also need to understand 
that it takes the blood of the Lamb and the Word to overcome." 
-Larry Ollison

Ollison tackles such fascinating topics as old covenant promises vs. new covenant promises, atonement vs. remittance and overcoming the enemy by "speaking the blood" and speaking the name of Jesus over our lives, families and homes. In fact, recognizing the power in the tongue is perhaps the book's "golden nugget."

"Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. 
It is a spiritual principle."
-Larry Ollison

Yet despite his bold "blood message," what really zapped me personally, was Ollison's encouraging commentary regarding character. "You may seem peculiar in the eyes of the world, but still have character," he writes. "Never, never throw away your character. It is one of your best witnessing tools." B-I-N-G-O, Larry!

"Too many Christians push their Christianity in such 
a way that they become obnoxious and appear arrogant. 
Because of this, they shut themselves off from having 
any influence on the world whatsoever."
-Larry Ollison

Even as a Christian Living author and a fourth-year Bible College student, I found Life Is In The Blood to be a bona fide game-changer. A highly recommended read.

AVAILABLE NOW ON AMAZON

-Christopher Long
(November 2014)


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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

PAWS FOR VETERANS: A Tremendous Cause for America's True Heroes!

PAWS FOR VETERANS

Just in time for 
Veterans Day, I
want to share a
wonderful cause
that benefits the
selfless, brave men
and women who
have served our
great country.
______________________


Saturday November 8, 2014 saw bikers, Vets and their supporters from around the area converge upon American Veteran Post #34 in Palm Bay, Florida for the annual Paws for Veterans "Paws Run and BBQ" fundraiser. As the longtime drummer of Burnt Toast — a good-time, golden oldies band that believes in, appreciates, respects and supports our American service men and women, I was honored and humbled for us to have been invited to perform at the event. Alright, "Blue Suede Shoes" — ah-one, ah-two, ah-one, two, three, four!

A tremendous cause, indeed!
For more than 20 years, Paws for Veterans has been dedicated and committed to providing our true national heroes with the medical help that they so desperately need (and greatly deserve) while simultaneously saving the lives of dogs that would otherwise face euthanasia. Simply put, this mighty mission rescues animals from "Doggie Deathrow" and unites them with Veterans — loving new owners who will care for them properly, and will use them for a variety of valuable purposes.

AmVets Riders Chapter #34 in Palm Bay, Florida - November 8, 2014.

Much thanks to these fabulous 
local Paws for Veterans sponsors.
It was heartwarming to see the enormous crowd that showed up for this year's event — kids, par- ents, musicians, bikers, Vets and vendors galore — all enjoying a day of fun, games, give- aways and delicious barbecue, while supporting a worthwhile cause. A runaway success, to be sure.

I invite, welcome, and encourage my readers everywhere to visit Paws for Veterans online and to take a look at and support their wonderful work and the beautiful service that they provide.

In closing, I just want to take a moment on this very special day and offer my heartfelt thanks to ALL past and present members of the American Armed Forces for their unequaled service, dedi- cation and sacrifice. YOU ARE MY HEROES!

-Christopher Long
(November 2014)






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Friday, November 7, 2014

"LADY BUG: ACTION HERO" (High-Energy Youth Production Comes to Florida's King Center)

LADY BUG:
ACTION HERO
Maxwell C. King Center
Melbourne, FL
Thursday / Nov. 13, 2014 / 10:30am
Suggested Audience K-Grade 6
____________________________

The King Center's current
Theatre for Youth season 
is packed with epic pro-
ductions. And this one
looks to be a must-see!
____________________________ 


Based on the popular children’s book by Kim Tuttle and Catherine Goldman BloomfieldLady Bug: Action Hero tells the incredible story of Lady Bug and her madcap crew  Betsy the ditsy blond butterfly, wise old Mr. Turtle, Jeremy the hip-hopping frog and an outrageous tap-dancing caterpillar. 

But it's not always fun and games in the 'forest of forever.' And as the story unfolds, Lady Bug must use her awesome karate skills in order to protect her friends from the "ferocious fire ants." Uh, wait a second. "Awesome karate skills?" Wow, this is sounding pretty cool!

This world-class fantasy production seems to have it all — a fun story, compelling characters, a dazzling set and amazing costumes — combined with meticulously crafted choreography performed by a professional international dance troupe — capped off with engaging narration.
________________________________________________________________________ 
  
"Our commitment to fostering a positive experience for youth
remains a priority through the programs offered each year."
-Karen Wilson (Theatre for Youth Director)
_________________________________________________________________________

More than merely a great show, Lady Bug: Action Hero is also a great first story ballet and theatrical experience for young theatre patrons. As a rough-and-tumble, super-macho kind of guy, I know that many of my legendary football heroes and all-time favorite rock stars actually have taken ballet in order to perfect their performance. Hence, this production will appeal to girls and boys of all ages. And I will certainly be loading up the ol' minivan with many of my soccer mom besties and elementary school-aged cronies, as none of my peeps plan to miss this production.

BTW, to say "thanks" for the community's support, The King Center will be donating a copy of the Lady Bug: Action Hero book to the library of the top three schools that bring the most students. A sweet deal, to be sure!

-Christopher Long
(November 2014) 




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Thursday, November 6, 2014

RECORD REVIEW: Dennis DeYoung "And the Music of Styx - Live in Los Angeles"

Available from Frontiers Records 10.21.14 
  
DENNIS DEYOUNG 
And the Music of Styx -
Live in Los Angeles
_________________________

The voice is iconic.
The songs are timeless.
The band is impeccable.
The performance is stellar.
And the record — 
simply fabulous!
__________________________



The latest release from legendary singer / songwriter, Dennis DeYoung is a bona fide treat for fans everywhere. Recorded live last spring in front of an enthusiastic crowd at the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles, the subsequent 90-plus-minute, 17-song collection arrived on October 21st via Frontiers Records. The audio version is available as a 2-CD package and digital download — the home video version is out on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc.

Oozing non-stop rock classics, the record serves as a tremendous testimony to the power and timelessness of great songs. And along with his world-class, six-member band, DeYoung dishes up (as the title suggests) the crème de la crème from his tenure as frontman, keyboardist and chief songwriter for the chart-busting band Styx


The set kicks off with a bang  the DeYoung-penned powerhouse title track from the 1977 Styx blockbuster, The Grand Illusion — and the crowd goes wildEarlier classics ensue quickly, including the 1975 hits, "Lady" and "Lorelei," as well as the title track from what's arguably the band's finest effort — the 1976 album, Crystal Ball.

Of the record's many highlights, "Suite Madame Blue" shines the brightest. Guitarist Jimmy Leahey's recreation of the late John Curulewsk's acoustic "Prelude 12" intro is spot-on, while DeYoung's death-defying, 22-second-long vocal note, at the 3:45 mark, is absolutely stupendous.  

Guitarists August Zadra (L) and Jimmy Leahey (R) 
onstage with Dennis DeYoung.
But the record is titled "And the Music of Styx," hence it also boasts a buttload of Tommy Shaw-penned biggies, including "Blue Collar Man," "Renegade(featuring a masterful vocal performance from guitarist August Zadra), "Foolin’ Yourself" and "Too Much Time on My Hands" — as well as the aforementioned "Crystal Ball."

DeYoung proves engaging and charismatic throughout — offering personal insights to such fan faves as the 1979 #1 smash, "Babe," and 1990 Top Five hit, "Show Me The Way."

Other aural gemstones include the stripped-down acoustic version of the 1983 Styx treasure,  "Don't Let It End" and the guitar-driven, nine-minute version of DeYoung's 1984 Top Ten solo hit, "Desert Moon." Another impressive power point is the participation of Tom Sharpe. The award-winning Mannheim Steamroller drummer adds a particular punch to the performance. 

The set ends up right where it started out  with "Come Sail Away— another iconic DeYoung track from The Grand Illusion. With its anthemic message and passion-filled crowd sing-along, this classic makes for a fabulous finale to a fabulous production.

-Christopher Long
(November 2014)


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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

ONE NIGHT AT THE BEACON (Guest Post)

ONE NIGHT AT 
THE BEACON
The Allman Brothers Band Live In NYC  10.25.14

I'm delighted to welcome Chicago's own Mark Vormittag, as the latest 
"Guest Contributor" here 
on The Show Biz Guru.
Nice work indeed, Mark!
______________________

Once upon a time, so many years ago, The Allman Brothers Band was formed. Duane Allman forged the band in March of 1969 and they began a journey that brought them to the Beacon Theater in New York City on the night of October 25, 2014. They are in the middle of their final group of shows before the band members go their separate ways.
The Allman Brothers Band that started in Florida and eventually made their home in Macon, Georgia is no stranger to New York. During their storied musical career they have perhaps played more times in New York that anywhere else; everywhere from college campuses to small bars and on to large arenas. They got their biggest break when they began to play at Bill Graham’s Fillmore East on Second Avenue near East 6th Street in New York City. It was there that they became the band that Graham would call “the best of them all.” They would eventually be chosen as the final act of that historic “Church of Rock and Roll," and would forever be lauded for their live recording there. At Fillmore East has oft been known as the best live album in history.
As most music historians agree, the Allman Brothers Band is at their best when playing live, captivating audiences with their unique blend of jazz, rock and blues, a formula that has never been duplicated. This group has always delivered a powerful show that relied upon the talents of the band as a whole rather than a single frontman / singer or guitarist. The gutsy, blues-soaked vocals of singer / songwriter / keyboardist Gregg Allman, the unprecedented dual lead guitar work of Duane Allman and Dickey Betts, the throbbing and yet articulate bass playing of Berry Oakley and the unrelenting, intricate percussion work of Butch Trucks and Jai Johanny Johanson that managed to somehow keep the swirling, unorthodox time signatures on time, all combined to create a magic that has never been surpassed. The Original Six were the foundation of a band that has performed almost continuously for 45 years.
The band has survived the deaths of two founding members, Duane Allman and Berry Oakley, tragedies that might have been insurmountable but for the perseverance of the remaining members and their determination to continue the legacy that began with Duane Allman. They have survived after parting ways with another founding member, guitarist Dickey Betts. Through the years, the band has remained a huge fan favorite.
ABB in NYC - 2014
Are they as good as the Original Six? Is that even a fair comparison? Since settling upon the current lineup of Gregg Allman on keyboards, Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks on guitars, Oteil Burbridge on bass, and Butch Trucks, Jaimoe and Marc Quiñones on percussion, the band has maintained a confident and dynamic presence in concert. They faithfully preserve the feel and artistry of the Original Six and provide versions of songs that are ostensibly faithful to the original live versions. Perhaps the most talked about and argued point is whether Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks are as good as Duane Allman and Dickey Betts. It’s my opinion that these two guitarists are the most suited to have continued in the absence of Duane and Dickey. Their abilities and styles complement each other as Duane Allman and Dickey Betts did, never stepping on one another. Their sense of how the music needs to sound in order to be faithful to the originals but remain fresh is extraordinary.
Fast forward to October 25, 2014. The band has decided to play out their final appearances at the Beacon Theater. My thoughts on the performance are as follows:
The Allman Brothers Band is going into the history books on top. There aren’t many performers, if any, that could sell out a venue like the Beacon Theater for a week, and yet the Allman Brothers Band has again done just that. Anticipation of this final Beacon run has been high and fans have been enthusiastic about each of the performances. This night was no exception.
The band began the night by cranking up “Don’t Keep Me Wondering.” Derek played the opening slide guitar riffs with gusto to start the jaunty, infectious groove that had those in attendance on their feet. Gregg’s vocals were solid and the whole band seemed to burst from the gate with an exuberance that served notice that the band was on its game. The tune was tight and was followed by Blind Willie McTell’s “Statesboro Blues,” an Allman Brothers Band standard that rocked the house, and the night was on.
Next up was “Woman Across the River,” a rave up of the Freddie King classic. The varying tempos and the bridge riffs were immaculately performed. Derek and Warren traded licks and although each has his own style of play, the solos seemed almost seamlessly fitted with one another. Warren’s vocals were pitch perfect, growling through the choruses and channeling King’s no-nonsense style.
It soon became apparent that the guitars being used this night were Duane Allman’s three Les Pauls, his 1957 Goldtop, the cherryburst and the darkburst Les Paul that has become known as “Hot ‘Lanta.” Their appearance at the show was courtesy of Scott Lamar, current owner of the Goldtop, and also Duane’s daughter, Galadrielle Allman, the owner of the two Les Paul Bursts. It was unprecedented that these three guitars were here on stage together for this run. Duane had traded the Goldtop in 1970 for the cherryburst Les Paul, swapping out the pickups of the guitars, and then, upon acquiring the darkburst Les Paul, discontinued playing the cherryburst. None of the guitars had been seen before on stage together before this run and they were played extensively all night. It was a wonderful treat for the fans and the two guitarists. Derek ended up playing slide on the Goldtop for many of the evening’s songs and Warren seemed none too eager to relinquish the cherryburst. Derek’s SG came out for a few songs but it was clear that Warren and Derek were only too happy to work the Les Pauls for most of the evening.
The third song of the first set started with the signature piano opening that begins “Ain’t Wastin' Time No More.” Derek played the Goldtop, faithfully recreating the opening sweet, clean slide work of Dickey Betts. The audience rocked as the tune rolled on and when Derek opened up the slide it was plain that he was enjoying playing the piece.
“Stormy Monday” was up next and Gregg’s vocals soared. He put every ounce of wistful angst into this one and showed why he is one of the most distinctive blues vocalists on the planet. The band was tight and effortlessly moved through the time changes in and out of the swinging, jazzy middle passage. Warren and Derek’s solos were well manicured and expressive but fairly perfunctory in nature. It was Gregg’s vocals that gave the song its punch.
“Dusk Til' Dawn” came up in the set list next and had that dreamy quality that other bands might fumble through, but this was a solid piece that allowed Warren and Derek to step out of the more formulaic, traditional blues riffs and deliver smooth, exquisitely crafted melodies.
Trucks and Haynes live at The Beacon - 10.25.14
(Photo: Mark R. Vormittag)
Finishing off the first set the band worked up the classic “Stand Back,” which had the audience swaying in their seats and singing along, and then kicked up the energy level with a smoking hot version of “Hot ‘Lanta.” Tight, powerful and clean, this song was a magnificent example of how the Allman Brothers Band Original Six had set themselves apart from other “jam bands.” A song that was never on a studio album, designed as a live piece, its existence can only be found live. There were no meandering or directionless passages in this composition, just hard-hitting, intricate jazz / rock. Burbridge's bass line and the dual lead riffs fired off by Warren and Derek were as precise as the Original Six had laid it down. Gregg’s keyboard solo on this was like his others, closely following the arrangements of the original recordings. Each keyboard solo was finely tuned over countless performances and his workmanship of the Leslie speaker is the best in the business.
During the intermission, there was a great deal of discussion in the lobbies regarding the issue of Dickey Betts’ absence. The general consensus was that he should have had a place on this run and that what had created the Original Six brotherhood should not be dismantled because of egos and finger-pointing. As great as Warren and Derek are, Mr. Betts was missed.
The second set began with another terrific piece of writing by Gregg – “Midnight Rider.” Now considered a true radio classic, the song was well done but, because of the arrangement, did not permit much in the way of improvisation. Derek and Warren’s interlocking solos were note-perfect and smooth.
Next up was Dr. John’s “Walk on Gilded Splinters,” a song that was recorded by Johnny Jenkins with Duane Allman playing guitar. The dark, tribal feel was brilliantly performed and the percussion section of Butch, Jaimoe and Marc was outstanding. The song is a treat live, being able to see the interplay among them.
“Jessica” came next and again showcased the exceptional dual lead work of Warren and Derek. Dickey Betts’ song was performed flawlessly. The song is a masterpiece of composition and the solos swirled and soared throughout. There is no denying that precision of the harmonizing leads and the dynamics of build and release in this song are inspired. Although it’s clear that these two guitarists are well matched to provide exciting versions, one is only left to wonder what it would have sounded like with Duane and Dickey at the controls. During the middle of the song, Warren steered the tune into a soulful rendition of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” which for my way of thinking was ironic due to the schism so evidently present in playing a Dickey Betts song without having that member present at this important time in the band’s career. Apparently the circle can and has been broken.
“Trouble No More” brought the house to its feet as the band tore through it. From the opening riff on this solid Allman Brothers Band classic, the band played with fire and energy with Derek’s slide knifing through the mix. At the bridge where Derek and Warren trade licks, into the drum kick, the audience was in synch with the band and shouted along with Gregg’s sneering roar of “Goodbye baby!” – a slam dunk winner.
In one of the few instances where anyone addressed the audience from the stage, Warren Haynes mentioned that it was the anniversary of Bill Graham’s untimely death. Graham was one of the band’s early benefactors, and his favorite song, according to Haynes, had been Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic.” It was a fitting song to play on this auspicious occasion and Haynes sang the song with soul and grace.
(Photo: Mark R. Vormittag)
“In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” came after Mystic and Gregg left the stage prior to the opening chords. It’s unclear whether he needed a breather or whether he merely felt he could take a break on a non-vocal song. It was a little odd not hearing his distinctive keyboard solo in Elizabeth Reed, Regarding the guitar work, although all the important time signature changes were there, one could tell that each guitarist approached the song from his own style of soloing. Wonderful guitar work, deftly performed, is a staple of this song and there was no disappointment this night. The band chose to take the opportunity to break into a Cream song, still without Gregg, to acknowledge the passing of bassist Jack Bruce by playing “Politician,” and it was evident that they enjoyed adding this to the night’s set list. They returned to Elizabeth Reed, and ended the song with the precise drum solo segment and dual leads. Another signature Allman Brothers Band song that helped to define their style early on.
There was a brief delay as the band members left the stage and they huddled in the shadows to decide what the encore would be. It was a bit of a surprise as they began the encore with “Come On in My Kitchen” by Robert Johnson and covered by Delaney & Bonnie and although the tune was tastefully done, it appeared that the audience was nonplussed by the selection. Duane had played some acoustic slide guitar on the song during his tenure with D&B but it seemed a little of a letdown to do this song as an encore. They followed up with “One Way Out,” which has always been a crowd-pleaser and the audience responded by getting on their feet and dancing at their seats.
There will always be a comparison between the Original Six and the present day lineup, but the combination of Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes is still the most talented and well-suited duo for the band. There aren’t two other guitarists anywhere who could have filled Duane Allman and Dickey Betts’ shoes more adequately. In fact, they had what Duane Allman and Dickey Betts enjoyed so well – a symbiotic relationship. Lead guitarists are typically ego-driven and it’s essential that two in this type of band structure be not only comfortable with each other, but also in it for the long haul. It’s not easy getting along in a band, as shown by past members of the Allman Brothers Band and in other bands. How long would they have remained together as a band is a question that is certainly problematic, and after suffering the setbacks of losing founding members it’s nothing short of astonishing that the band stayed together this long and continues to stay popular with their fan base. Part of the credit is due to the incredible talent and dedication of Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes, but also in no small measure to their capacity to provide a sense of stability to otherwise chaotic and challenging positions in the band. They’ve heard all the disparaging comments and comparisons with Duane and Dickey and have managed to shrug them off. They’ve let their talent and their commitment speak for themselves.
So as the sun begins to set on the greatest American band in history, we should admire and commend their longevity and sense of purpose over the years, but also enjoy what all the members who have taken part in the Allman Brothers Band have shared with us – damned good music. Saturday night, October 25, 2014 was more than just a night at the Beacon. It was a privileged celebration.

-Mark R. Vormittag
(October 2014)
___________________________________________________________________

BE MY "GUEST"
Do you have something to say, something to get off your chest or an amazing story to share? From pop culture views and reviews to political commentary to messages of faith, my blog is a great platform for writers to showcase their work. There are very limited criteria for submitting a post. Your views don't even have to be in line with mine—just create and contribute a compelling, well-written story. Interested? Send me and email.

-Chris
_______________________________________________________________________