With the Allman Brothers Band wrapping up their touring career last year after a 45-year run, it would be easy to assume that Gregg Allman might be ready to take a bit of a breather. But while his time on the road these days is far removed from previous touring of 200 shows or more each year, Allman assures us that there’s still plenty left to look forward to.
“We got a solid tour schedule throughout the year, and we have a live DVD of a killer show my solo band did down in Macon, Georgia that we’ll be releasing in the near future,” Allman says in an e-mail interview. “I’m a long way from done, brother!”
A fresh set of tour dates will bring Allman to the Hard Rock Rocksino on Friday night and it’s his first show in the Cleveland area in a long time. For anyone who wanted to see Allman or the Allman Brothers in recent years, a road trip was a necessary part of the planning. If you missed out on that, Allman says that his solo shows carry a similar spirit (and a lot of the classic Allman Brothers material in the setlist) with a key difference.
“The biggest difference between my solo shows and playing with the Allman Brothers is that with my band, there is only one cook in the kitchen, so to speak,” he says. “With the Allman Brothers, we had a lot of people stirring the pot, and things could get complicated at times. I enjoy the easy vibe we have in my band, no doubt about that.” The shows have even been giving Allman a bit of a chance to stretch out, instrumentally. “I’m playing more and more electric guitar, so I’ve been building my chops on that. I’ll never be my brother — who can be? — but I’m getting there.”
Allman is clearly enthused about the band that he’s been gigging with. “I’ve got one of the best line-ups I’ve ever put together; they are a kick-ass group of players for sure,” Allman says. “The old timers are Scott Sharrard on guitar, Jay Collins on sax and Steve Potts on drums; they’ve been with me for a few years now. The ‘newer’ guys are Peter Levin, who played keyboards for Levon Helm, while Ron Johnson has played bass with Karl Denson and Warren Haynes. Marc Quinones, of course, played percussion for 20 years in the Allman Brothers, and about a year or so ago Art Edmaiston and Marc Franklin joined Jay to give us a killer horn section. We hit that stage and we just smoke it, man!”
He released his seventh solo album, Low Country Blues
in 2011, a collection of covers that was produced by T-Bone Burnett featuring special guests like Dr. John and Doyle Bramhall II. During a conversation last year, Allman said that he wanted to focus in on a collection of his own originals for his next solo effort. He’s still writing with that in mind but working on a loose timeline when the inspiration strikes.
“I keep a notepad and pen with me, and I’m always jotting down little phrases and thoughts,” he explains. “I have all kinds of these notions, old and new, and sometimes I’ll combine them. I do try to write on a regular basis, but I’m not one of those guys who sit down at the same time every day and write for an hour. Ideas hit me at random times, and I just go with it.”
When the end of the line came around for the Allman Brothers Band, Allman says that he was ready. “Well, 45 years is a long time to do anything, let alone for a rock band to play together,” he mused. “We all sensed the time had come, and we agreed that the most important thing was for the Allman Brothers to go out on top, and that we did.”
There could be some fresh things to listen to from the Allmans in the years to come, even if it’s not necessarily “new” music. “Last year the big box set of the complete Fillmore East recordings came out, and that turned really well,” Allman says. “So you never know; there could be a few more things like that in the pipeline.”
Gregg Allman, 8 p.m., Friday, March 13, Hard Rock Live, 10777 Northfield Rd, Northfield, 330-908-7625. Tickets: $39.50-$65, hrrocksinonorthfieldpark.com.