Throwing the CD in brought back my encounter with Gregg Allman in 2007 at the Alabama Theater in Birmingham, listening and watching Bonnie Bramlett sing from the back wall in the black out of view from the audience, “You know I played on her stuff”, Gregg said as he was leaning on my arm to get a little view from the back curtain, I told him, “Hey, Gregg, we can switch places”, “No, I’m fine” and like clockwork, “Well, I gotta get ready” and he disappeared down into the dressing room as if he had her set memorized because ten minutes later she was done and Gregg was on.

Hanging with Bonnie Bramlett, Alabama Theater 2007

That was the one and only time I hung with him and it felt like hanging with an old friend because history precedes the man.  This was the voice of The Allman Brothers Band at Fillmore East and “Midnight Rider.” Well, what does this all have to do with this new T-Bone “The hardest working producer in show business” Burnett Produced disc have to do with that show?  Mainly because of the off the cuff, off the set list piece that Gregg asked the horn section if they knew, Otis Redding’s “I Can’t Turn You Loose”, which he sang as if he was ready to be Otis.

Gregg at Alabama Theater 2007

Gregg is one of the most soulful voices there is. He doesn’t have to talk to the audience his voice live is mesmerizing with a mix of Southern Blues and Soul that only a few like him can say they are there, namely Joe Cocker, lesser known Eddie Hinton and maybe you haven’t heard of Topper Price but you should.

Low Country Blues is full of covers that feature horn sections, Hammond B3 and some acoustic instruments and shaky handmade sounding percussion things that would be associated with the Americana thing nowadays. The best parts if dissected remind me of that night in Birmingham with the full horn section, organ and a full band turning out Sixties era Memphis Soul on cuts like “Blind Man” by Texan Record label exec, Don D. Robey who managed Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown back in 1949 and had his biggest success with Big Mama Thornton’s #1 hit “Hound Dog” on his Peacock Records.

Indeed from the roster of songs and the depth of history of blues and soul in the tracks I wonder if it was Gregg saying I always wanted to do this or T-Bone digging into his vast treasure chest. They both had a lot of musicology to bring to the table.

Gregg brings a strong self co-penned with Warren Haynes track “Just Another Rider” which is almost an extension of something Otis might have done after “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of The Bay”, with its mix of soul and Lennon/McCartney beat. It was clear Otis was ready to mix it up after Monterey Pop.

Muddy Waters, “I Can’t Be Satisfied” really gets the Americana Acoustic blues treatment that feels more like Hill Country Blues down in the fields of Mississippi then uptown Chicago. This cut should have had Pinetop Perkins on that Piano but you can’t ask for everything. This was only a stone’s throw from 1920’s Memphis Jug Band material.

He really get’s Fifties style B.B. King down on “Please Accept My Love’ with that straight eight Ride and long Sax lines. It really feels like Memphis in the fifties with B.B. King and Fats Domino on the radio and cruising around late at night looking for where the girls are hanging out.

Amos Milburn

Another Texan, Amos Milburn shares the distinction of having a couple of his songs recorded on Rounder Records, many years have passed since George Thorogood recorded “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” until Gregg took on “Tears, Tears, Tears” which continues a lot of threads that connect the late forties and fifties music on this disc with the theme of many a Blues tune “Tears in my eye, Blue as I can be, Just had another woman to walk out on me.” This is where you are going to hear the distinct Hammond B3 of Gregg, in a nice jazzy post-war blues number.

If that wasn’t enough there is Otis Rush represented “Checking on My Baby” with Doyle Bramhall II featured prominently.  It’s amazing that this album came out of Village Recorders when it sounds like it should have come out of Houston, Memphis or maybe a little Chess Records recording out of Chicago.

One of the best ways to get to the root of the blues is the finisher, “Rolling Stone”, treated with a branch between The Allman Brothers band type rhythm and delivery with some Dobro and other spices such as a great walking bass note on the piano that brings things full circle.

It really captures the roots of Soulful blues which represents what Gregg is made of as he was finding his path early on. There is a great story in the liner notes about Gregg and Duane going to a B.B. King Concert in Nashville when they were young and that was their defining or divine moment when you think of what came after.

Did T-Bone do it right? He has done so many records in the last few years, that obviously not everyone is going to be right, but, he does the legend Gregg Allman in a good way that opens the doors for more stuff. He obviously can lead this into the Americana arena but, the best parts are really the Hammond B3, horn section late Sixties Soul feel. Gregg could do that all day and I would never bet bored. I think this is the CD that will make Eric Clapton search out T-Bone for some Production work. I think Eric will be jealous of this one.

This is a slow simmer, best heard late on a moonlight drive maybe through the southlands of Northern Florida or Southern Georgia; if you can’t be there you can sure feel it. Well done T-Bone! You done Gregg right. I always have in mind what will be my top ten for the end of the year. It is only January and this is one Allman flavored contender.

 – Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

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