Levon Helm and Taj Mahal Help the Allmans Open Beacon Run
The Allman Brothers Band kicked off its annual run at New Yorks Beacon Theatre last night with a marathon two-set show that drew in rock-era luminaries Levon Helm and Taj Mahal. Though the Allman Brothers Bands Beacon residency is known for its special guests, this years festivities has been described as ‘a tribute to Duane Allman’ and is expected to feature many of the musicians the slide guitarist played with before his death.
As a tribute, Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks opened the run with Little Martha, a rarely played number from Eat a Peach that is credited as a Duane Allman solo composition. The band then changed its a stacked first set that included Don’t You No More, It’s Not My Cross To Bear, I Walk On Guilded Splinters, a new instrumental, and Midnight Rider, among others. Taj Mahal emerged near the end of the set for Leaving Trunk, 44 Blues and Statesboro Blues. As legend has it, Allman was first inspired to learn the slide after hearing Taj Mahal band guitarist Jesse Ed Davis perform Statesboro Blues in 1968. It should be noted that last night the band played the Mahals original version of the latter song, not the Allman Brothers Bands trademark arrangement.
The groups second set began with a bang, as Levon Helm and his associates Theresa Williams, Larry Campbell and Brian Mitchell took the stage for The Band classics Ophelia and I Shall Be Released. Mahal then joined in for The Weight, sharing vocals with Helm, Gregg Allman and Warren Haynes. Duane Allman performed on Aretha Franklins famed cover of The Band tune. The evening later came to a close with Black Hearted Woman Stormy Monday, Mountain Jam and an encore of Southbound.
The Allman Brothers Band will celebrate its 40th anniversary throughout 2009 and the 20th anniversary of its first appearance at the Beacon throughout March. The group is also featured on the cover of the April/May issue of Relix.