Thursday, March 5, 2009

Moogis, Skydog And The Beacon Theatre : An Exclusive Interview With Butch Trucks Of The Allman Brothers Band

Born in Jacksonville, Florida in 1947, Butch Trucks is a true musical pioneer. As a co-founder of The Allman Brothers Band in 1969, the drummer, nicknamed "The Freight Train", laid down a powerful conventional beat which has been an integral part of the band's sound since the beginning. A sound which was not only original, but also was the principal blueprint for the whole Southern rock genre, paving the way for Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Marshall Tucker Band, Molly Hatchet and seemingly countless others throughout the 70's.

The original lineup, which besides Trucks included the brothers, vocalist/keyboardist Gregg and guitarist Duane Allman, guitarist Dickie Betts, bassist Berry Oakley and fellow drummer/percussionist Jaimoe Johanson, broke onto the rock scene with their unique blend of blues rock, jazz, hard rock and country when they released their self-titled debut album, which received great critical acclaim upon arrival. Although there have been triumphs and tragedies, trials and tribulations, break-ups and reunions, the band, now with Trucks' nephew Derek on slide guitar, continues to leave spellbound audiences to the present day.

The band's influence is still felt to this very day, with modern day jam bands picking up the torch and drawing inspiration from a band who in 1971 Rolling Stone Magazine hailed as "the best damn rock and roll band" of "the past five years." High praise indeed considering at the time legendary acts such as The Rolling Stones, The Who and Led Zeppelin were still in their prime. Besides that bestowment, they had the unique distinction of having all 4 of their primary guitarists tabbed by the magazine on their 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time list in 2003. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 1995, their legacy as one of the finest bands of all time is safe and secure.

In 1989, when the band reunited for the second time, after a seven year hiatus in the wake of the massive success of the 'Dreams' box set, they initiated an annual tradition by playing a series of shows at New York City's historic Beacon Theatre. The tradition is known as the "Beacon Run" among fans, who travel from across the United States, Canada and Western Europe to see these annual March and April shows.

After a year's absence due to the cancellation of the 2008 run while band leader Gregg Allman recovered from a bout with hepatitis C, the band is back to business with a 15 show residency. This year, the rock legends celebrate their 40th Anniversary with an impressive list of legendary musical guests, the likes of which, although still kept under wraps, are, in Trucks' words, "taking a quantum leap" from previous years. Rock legends such as Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones' Ronnie Wood, and even former co- founding guitarist Dickie Betts, among others, have been speculated as being just a few of the high profile artists possibly appearing -- all to pay homage to the band's late founding guitarist Duane Allman, who tragically died in a motorcycle accident October 29, 1971 at the age of 24.

This year's run also is pushing the boundaries for another reason. Through Trucks' new venture Moogis, the Allman Brothers' entire residency, March 9th - 28th, will be streamed live on the Internet via a subscription service. Paying members of the community-based site can not only watch the shows live as they happen, but be able to revisit them on demand, along with other exclusive video and audio from past shows, for a six month period. This concept has been done before, but never by a major band to this extent, proving they continue to break new ground, not only musically but on a technical level as well. Not surprising when taking into consideration that they were quite possibly the first major rock band to have a web site, being open to the possibilities of the then - emergent technology at an early stage.

Recently I caught up with Trucks at home in Florida, where we discussed the Moogis webcasts, the upcoming Beacon Theatre shows, Duane Allman, the future of The Allman Brothers Band and much more. Read on as we have an exclusive conversation with founding member of The Allman Brothers Band and member of the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame, Butch Trucks....

Click here for the exclusive interview.

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