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14 Feb 2017

Almost Brothers “A Band Of Roadies” 2014 (recorded in 1973-74) US Southern Blues Rock (members of Allman Brothers Band)

Almost Brothers “A Band Of Roadies” 2014 (recorded in 1973-74) US Southern Blues Rock (members of Allman Brothers Band)

On one hand, the vibe of A Band Of Roadies comes as no surprise: after all, the band comprised members of the Allman Brothers Band’s road crew circa ’73-’74, along with some other players from the Macon, GA music scene at the time. This mix of covers and originals – infused with bluesy, jazzy grooves and adventurous jams – is exactly what you might expect from offshoots of the ABBfamily.

What is a pleasant surprise, however, is the fact that this is a great album made by some solid players. After all, just because theylugged the Allmans’ gear, it doesn’t guarantee they could play it … but A Band Of Roadies stands on its own hind legs as a cool chunk of early 70s bluesrock recently rediscovered.

If you’re familiar at all with ABB history, you’ll recognize some of the band members: the late Twiggs Lyndon – the Allmans’ original road manager – plays guitar; longtime road crew member Joseph “Red Dog” Campbell (who passed away in 2011) mans the drums, along with soundman Michael Artz; Buddy Thornton (who handled front-of-house sound for the Allmans) plays bass. Virginia Speed’s talents on piano earned her a job as a keyboard tech for the ABB; her killer Steinway work and lead vocals on the classic “Fever” demonstrate just how good she was. And Dave “Trash” Cole was actually working on the farm that the Allmans owned in Juliette, GA when Lyndon discovered he was also a wicked guitar picker. Cole was hired on as an ABB guitar tech – and he was a natural for the Almost Brothers lineup.

The Almost Brothers were birthed from the need to do pre-gig sound checks in the absence of the actual ABB members. As Chuck Leavell writes in the liner notes, “As we began to tour behind the release [of Brothers And Sisters ] in 1973 there were times when, for various reasons, the band wouldn’t or couldn’t make sound checks.” (Ahhhh … those “various reasons” …)

The Almost Brothers progressed from warming up gear (and often the crowd when the doors opened early) for the Allmans to playing their own gigs in and around the Macon area. When the ABB took 1974 off so Gregg Allman and Dickey Betts could burrow into their respective solo projects, the Almost Brothers got serious about playing in an effort to keep some money coming in.

The 10 cuts on A Band Of Roadies were recorded over a long weekend during that time period – the band was basically helping to break in the newly-revamped Capricorn Studios. The original masters of those sessions have disappeared, but the two-track studio tapes were recently unearthed. The format allowed for no re-mixing – simply basic EQ touchup and editing; but the raw, in-the-moment feel of this music makes up for any sonic flaws.

The addition of band buddy Joe English on congas for the piano-driven blues romp “Driving Wheel” and the instrumental “Knurled Knob” (penned by Thornton) is a happenstance crystal ball view of what the Allmans’ sound would evolve into when percussionist Marc Quiñones joined them 17 years later.

Dave Cole’s vocals throughout the album are soulful – more Bobby Whitlock-style than Gregg Allman – and he and Lyndon complement each other well on guitar. They stand shoulder to shoulder on the signature riff of Memphis Slim’s “Stepping Out” before taking turns putting their own spins on the number. (A bit of pickin’ porn for you: Twiggs Lyndon was playing the late Duane Allman’s ’59 Tobacco Burst Les Paul for these sessions … listen for that tone.)

The Allmans had their classic one-two punch of “Don’t Want You No More” into “It’s Not My Cross to Bear”; the Almost Brothers here take off on the shape-shifter instrumental “Modular Motion” before banging down a couple gears to grind out a cover of “Drifting”. Virginia Speed’s solo on Capricorn’s big ol’ Steinway here is a classic – unhurried, lovely and just raunchy enough to be sexy.

Cole leads the band through his self-penned “Is It Wrong” – a much gentler tune than the rest of the album, but a great, spacious opportunity for the band to get loose and glide. Swooping bass lines by Thornton weave around Speed’s rippling piano; the guitars bounce in and out of harmony lines; and guest Scott Boyer (from the band Cowboy) contributes some sweet pedal steel.

“Complicated Shoes”, “Rainbow Chase” and “Compactor” are more Buddy Thornton instrumentals that prove what kind of players the Almost Brothers really were. Don’t expect aimless noodling over standard blues progressions; these songs all feature complex grooves that challenge the rhythm section, cool melodies and themes that allow Speed to work the keyboard, and perfect launchpads for Lyndon and Cole to blast off.

All in all, A Band Of Roadies is a great listen, regardless of the Allman connection. The fact that this music was created from a mix of service to the job at hand and a passion for the music that surrounded them makes the story of the Almost Brothers one that causes you to smile and shake your head. In another time; another setting … who knows what might have become of this band?

In the moment, it was set it up; get it right; tear it down; do it again............

It runs the summer of 1973 and the Allman Brothers are one of the biggest bands in America. Their last album, Brothers and Sisters , has reached the first position in the Billboard and the single "Ramblin 'Man" does not stop to sound in radio stations throughout the country. It has not been an easy road for the Allmans, who have had to face the untimely death of two of its founding members, Duane Allman and Berry Oakley , but their relentless tenacity and their absolute devotion for the music finally have led them to reach the Popularity they deserve. The four-year-old band performing in soulless southerners now fills up venues like Madison Square Garden, the Los Angeles Forum, or the RFK Stadium in Washington.

Arriving at some of these venues, fans of the band from Georgia listen to play musicians who often confuse with the band contracted to open the night. It is not, however, an opening group, but the roadies of the Allman Brothers proving that everything is in order for the concert, although guided by how well they sound no one would have thought that it is a mere sound test routine . From these improvised sessions the Almost Brothers Band will be born .

The relationship between the Allman Brothers and their roadies had been very close since the beginning of the band. Pipes were a key part of this family dedicated to fulfilling a mission of quasi-religious proportions through their music that Duane Allman had conceived , and his role in this community of brothers was almost as important as that of the six members of the group, Who wanted to note this fact by using a photograph of the roadies as a back cover of the mythical At Fillmore East of 1971. The Allman road crew was celebrated and equally feared for their unbridled road behavior, and their insane adventures were material Legend, but in the tour of 1973 showed that some of them were not left behind in instrumental prowess.

That year, the massive success of Brothers and Sisters turns out to be a double-edged sword for the Allman Brothers. Deeply traumatized by the cruelty of a fate that had struck them twice in just a year, band members respond to their new status as superstars by sinking into their own egos and isolating themselves more and more from each other, diluting that ideal Of brotherhood promoted by its deceased leader. When some of the musicians start to miss out on rehearsals and miss out on sound tests, the roadies have to take their place, replacing the missing members so the rest of the band can keep up with their needs. Soon a nucleus of four pipes is formed that begin to play together in their free moments. They are sound technicians Buddy Thornton and Mike Artz on bass and drums respectively, and the celebrated 'Twiggs' Lyndon and Joseph 'Red Dog' Campbell , guitar and drums. As 1973 progresses, it is increasingly common for the band of roadies and not the Allman Brothers themselves to take care of the sound tests prior to the concerts.
In early 1974, after the tour and back in Macon, Georgia, the roadies continue to play together and recruit two local musicians, guitarist and singer Dave 'Trash' Cole and pianist Virginia Speed . The now sextet begins rehearsing at the Willingham Cotton Mill loft that the Allmans use as a storehouse for their team and soon start offering gigs in local bars. The first of these recitals takes place at Macon's Grant's Lounge on the eve of the 1974 April's Fool Day and features members of Allman Dickey Betts , Butch Trucks , Jaimoe and Chuck Leavell , who star in a jam Along with his friends. It is Leavell himself who proposes the amusing name for the group: The Almost Brothers Band .

Almost Brothers concerts help them build a good reputation and become one of the most recognizable bands on the local scene in Georgia, and even Creem magazine gives them an article in August 1975. Capricorn Records , the label of The Allman, is interested in them and invites them to record a demo in their studies that same year. Nevertheless, the turbulent separation of Allman Brothers in 1976 precipitates the end of the short race of his sister band. Once their commitment to Southern rock parents is over, the roadies are forced to find their own way and the Almost Brothers embark on separate roads.

In 2010, Buddy Thornton and Dave Cole will host a small gathering with guests such as Chuck Leavell and Randall Bramlett during the posthumous Red Dog homage at the Coon Capitol Theater in Macon. At that time, a band of versions of southern rock of Chicago has appropriated of the name The Almost Brothers Band, but the experience of re-acting next to Cole causes that Thornton decides to recover and to restore the demos that recorded together in 1975.
Now, after almost four decades stored in a drawer, we can finally enjoy the recordings of The Almost Brothers Band , which have been edited online through under the title A Band of Roadies and accompanied by a nice text by Chuck Leavell in which the pianist asserts that the Allman pipes were "recognized by our peers and theirs as the best road crew in the world". Despite the efforts of Thornton , who has been struggling to get the best quality possible from the original two-track tapes, the sound is not optimal and several of the tracks are incomplete and cut abruptly before reaching the end, But in spite of it A Band of Brothers supposes a list more than grateful for any fan of the saga Allman.
Clearly, the Allman Brothers are the main influence for their younger brothers, who ride the sonic palette of Macon around the time Brothers and Sisters : passionate blues, southern rock boogie, country touches and instrumental instrumental jams. The Almost resemble the Allmans even in their playing, with Buddy Thornton extracting a percussive tune from their bass very similar to the sound of Lamar Williams , Virginia Speed ​​re- creating Chuck Leavell's honky tonk piano style (no trace of the warm Gregg Allman 's Hammond B-3 , however), and the double drummer of Red Dog and Artz inevitably evoking the work of Jaimoe and Butch Trucks (though with a less overwhelming result, all is said). However, the one that stands out above the others is Twiggs , who uncovers himself as a great guitar player very indebted to the style of Dickey Betts (the ascending lines of "Stepping Out" or the single folded "Is It Wrong" are pure Dickey ), Who gave him the guitar model Barney Kessel used throughout the album.
A Band of Roadies is composed of fragments, ideas for songs and jams rather than for fully developed compositions. Aside from the versions of "Driving Wheel" by Junior Parker , "Drifting" by Charles Brown and the "Fever" standard, the closest thing to a closed track on the album is "Is It Wrong" , a luminous ballad of Cheerful cadence and country airs adorned by beautiful vocal harmonies and touches of pedal steel that resembles in spirit the Allman Brothers of "Blue Sky" or "Ramblin 'Man" . It is a shame that the recording was cut after four minutes because it is a great song and shows the potential of the Almost Brothers Band if they had continued to bill more songs in this line.

Nevertheless, perhaps the most interesting of the disc are the instrumental subjects that show the deep influence of compositions of Dickey Betts like "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" or "Jessica" . These songs show the possibilities and instrumental talent of the band, improvising and getting carried away, making music for the simple pleasure of playing together and having fun, without pressure or contractual obligations. "Knurled Knob" stands out for its jazzy rhythm and solos intricate guitar Twiggs , "Compactor" shows a Latino airs and percussion arrangements that emparentan with the first records of Santana , and "Complicated Shoes" and "Rainbow Chase" entail Vehicles for the Virginia Speed piano and Twiggs guitar to be faced through shifting passages ranging from purely Californian sounds to Steely Dan to psychedelic textures and practically funky airs, highlighting the remarkable instrumental capacity of the entire band.
A Band of Roadies is a fun curiosity for fans of the Allman Brothers . Your listening will not change anyone's life but it's a nice way to spend 36 minutes, remembering a nice story about a time when music really was a lifestyle...........

Dave «Trash» Cole — guitar, vocals
Twiggs Lyndon — guitar
T.T. Thornton — bass
Joe English — percussion
Virginia Speed — piano, vocals (07)
Joseph “Red Dog” Campbell — drums
Michael Artz — drums
Scott Boyer — steel guitar (09)

01. Driving Wheel — 4:00
02. Knurled Knob — 2:59
03. Love You (Like A Man) — 4:33
04. Stepping Out — 2:22
05. Modular Motion / Drifting — 5:34
06. Complicated Shoes — 2:42
07. Fever — 3:54
08. Rainbow Chase — 5:13
09. Is It Wrong — 4:45
10. Compactor — 4:40

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..





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