While 95% of Americans associate March Madness with the college basketball tournament, The Allman Brothers Band recognize it as the time of the Beacon Run, in which the band from 1980 to 2014 would play 6-8 shows each year at the legendary Beacon Theater on 76th street and Amsterdam Avenue. While the band stopped in 2014, the band members did not stop touring. As the song “Midnight Rider” alludes to, “The Road goes on forever.”
On Wednesday, July 18, 2018, Dickey Betts, the guitarist who was fired form the band in 2000, headlined a show which also featured his son Duane Betts, and the two opening bands, that of Gregg Allman’s son Devon and the Marshall Tucker Band. The show was entertaining, nostalgic and demonstrative of the eclectic jam band scene that lives on the Upper West Side.
Devon Allman kicked off the festivities right at 8:00 PM, which was the announced starting time. While Devon neither joined the Allman Brothers Band or played with his father often, he was obviously well aware of his songs. He played a short set, which included some originals and some Allman Brothers Band covers. The highlight of the set was “Dreams”, in which Duane Betts took part. It was great to see Duane and Devon carry the baton of the band, playing one of its earliest big hits.
Next up was The Marshall Tucker Band, which really should have been “Doug Gray and Friends.” Vocalist Doug Gray was the only original member in the band. For much of the set, Doug Gray stood on the side and let his younger bandmates jam. The set was honestly not all that memorable but there were to songs that stood out. The band did a country-style cover of “Fire on the Mountain”, a song that is most popularized by the Grateful Dead. Doug Gray led vocals on the slow-paced acoustic version. The “Can’t You See” closer got everyone standing up and dancing for the first time.
From 9:45 PM to 10:30 PM, there was a long boring set break, which was unfortunate given how many great musicians were there. I actually thought the show would be over around 11; it was shocking to see Dickey Betts come on that late. That said, he more than opened right off the bat with the “Hot Lanta” opener. It was a familiar tune that I’ve heard the Allman Brothers Band play in many of the 17 times I saw it; however, it was the first time I’ve heard Dickey Betts live so I never heard his country-style version.
With the exception of “Nothing You Can Do”, a Dickey Betts Band tune, all of the 11 songs the band played were Allman Brothers Band classics. After “Hot Lanta”, the band continued to wow the crowds with “Statesboro Blues”, a song the Allman Brothers Bands used to many of their shows with. Later in the set, Devon Allman came on stage to fill in for his dad’s role on vocals and guitar for “Midnight Rider.” If Gregg Allman were “here today” as Sir Paul McCartney would say to John Lennon, he would have most certainly been pleased!
Dickey excelled on “Seven Turns”, which was one of the last hits he wrote with the band. In recent years, this was one of the few songs Oteil Burbridge sung for the band. In the third day of the Fare Thee Well Shows in Chicago, Bob Weir famously wore a shirt with the words “Let Otiel Sing! Like some of the other tunes however, it sounded more country-like than bluesy as the Allman Brothers usually performs.
Dickey Betts and band ended the night on a high note with an instrumental “Jessica” jam for an encore. Their set list originally depicted “Liz Reed” so this was likely an impromptu decision. The Allman Brothers Band usually would come back on stage and play a shorter tune like “One Way Out” or “Don’t Keep me Wonderin” but Dickey decided to go out for another 10 minutes and show that he still knows how to party.
It’s time for Sir Paul McCartney to write a sequel song “When I’m Seventy-Four”. If this article peaked your interest in seeing a show at the Beacon or get a taste of the Allman Brothers, go listen to fellow Allman Brother Derek Trucks with his own band Tedeschi Trucks Band during the October run Oct 5-13! Tickets can be found here: http://tedeschitrucksband.com/!
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