Gregg Allman elated a capacity crowd of 2,000-plus at the Sailor Circus Arena in Sarasota on Wednesday with his impressive solo group. Meanwhile, news broke around the rock world that guitarist-singer Warren Haynes and guitarist Derek Trucks are leaving the Allman Brothers at the end of the year. If Gregg was even aware of this development, it didn't dampen his performance.
Allman, who lived in Sarasota and Manatee counties between the late 1970s and early 1990s, opened his set with a rousing rendition of the Allman Brothers Band (by way of Blind Willie McTell) classic “Statesboro Blues.” He followed with his solo hit “I’m No Angel,” which sounded superb stripped of its 1980s-era sheen. Allman then heated up the already stuffy and cramped circus tent with a smoldering rendition of his solo gem “Queen of Hearts,” followed by the 2011 "Low Country Blues” album highlight “I Can’t Be Satisfied.” Then, it was back to his 1973 solo opus “Laid Back” for a gorgeous “These Days.”
But the nearly two hour performance also included plenty more Allman Brothers Band classics. The familiar songs were goosed by saxophone or flute and, yes, guitar, often by Gregg’s son, Devon Allman, an established solo star who opened the show with a group of his own. Gregg's guests also included Sarasota-based bassists Berry Duane Oakley (son of founding ABB bassist/singer Berry Oakley) and Thom Doucette (the harmonica player heard on the ABB masterpiece "At Fillmore East”).
In light of Devon’s performance on such ABB classics as “Melissa” and “One Way Out” it seems at least a possibility he’ll be joining his dad next year in the Allman Brothers Band. Regardless of the Brothers' future, Gregg Allman still has one of the most beautiful voices in rock ’n’ roll. It proved a genuine treat to hear Wednesday.