Big House A-Hopping
In 1969, Linda Oakley, eager to move out of the small-apartment she shared with her husband Berry, rented a turn of the century tudor house located at 2321 Vineville Avenue in Macon, GA. Inviting several members of the Allmans extended family to move in, including Gregg and Duane, the Oakleys created a fraternal living environment which, in turn, helped cement the Brothers familial-feel. Dubbed The Big House, the three-story home served as the Allman Brothers Bands communal stomping ground for much of the early 1970s.
20-years later, Kirk and Kirsten West purchased The Big House and have spent the past 12 years refashioning the tudor as a three-dimensional shrine. And, last night, the Big House Foundation made strides in turning the Brothers former estate into a proper museum, hosting a guest-laden benefit concert at the Allmans unofficial New York home, the Beacon Theater. In addition to performances by Allman-offshoots Jaimoes Jassss Band, Oteil and the Peacemakers, Derek Trucks Band and Govt Mule, the Allman Brothers offered an abbreviated two-hour show, which stretched from midnight until nearly 2 AM. A quick setlist scan reveals any number of Allman Brothers anthems: Revival, Aint Wasting time No More, Melissa, Dreams, Jessica, Statesboro Blues, and One Way Out. Nodding to the evenings overriding theme-family—former Allman Brothers keyboardist Chuck Leavell appeared on Stormy Monday and Jessica, a number he originally helped color on _ Brothers and Sisters _. Later in the evening another Allmans-alumnus, Johnny Neel joined for a set closing take on One Way Out. A grand gesture, Oteil Burbridge offered his bass to Berry Oakley Jr., son of the late-Allmans founder, on Statesboro Blues and One Way Out. Trey Anastasio also made his first appearance with the Allman Brothers Band, adding guitar to an encore version of In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.
A piece of fun trivia from Warren Haynes: Shortly after Govt Mules inception, Allen Woody, Matt Abts and Haynes took a trip to The Big House to tighten their early repertoire. During their visit, Haynes stayed in Duane Allmans room, while Woody occupied Oakleys former living quarters. Forging another connection to the Allman Brothers past, Haynes also invited Leavell onstage for a version of Soulshine during Govt Mules opening set last night.
A tradition since 1994, the Allman Brothers Bands has individualized each of their multi-night Beacon Theater runs by sparring with special guests. Over the past ten-shows, the Allman Brothers jammed with Ravi Coltrane, Susan Tedeschi, Rob Barracco, Matt Abts, Kofi Burbridge, Little Milton, Page McConnell, Yonrico Scott and Ron Holloway, among others.