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Author: Subject: A Love Letter

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  posted on 10/17/2008 at 03:01 PM
The final leg of the 2008 tour was definitely one for the record books. I’m always guilty of wallowing in the amazement at my last ABB show, but even this far surpassed my normal enthusiasm.

Gregg’s resurgence of strength and resolve, and the bands ferocity coupled with the renewed emphasis on breathing new life into the entire catalogue, is about as inspiring as you can get. I dare say, they may have never sounded better. The creative twists and re-arrangement of classic and newer material has, in my opinion, taken this band to yet another plateau of excellence. They continue to raise the bar on themselves.

There will always be heated debates about which version of the band was the best, but it’s not really a valid argument. “Best” is , at best, subjective. It’s subject to an individuals taste, it’s subject to the internal mechanisms at work within and subject to the times in which we live.

Tough times, and controversial issues seem to bring about the best in artists’ passion, and tend to produce highly inspired and creative work. The late sixties were turbulent times and the band was spawned in that era. There is no doubt that, that era defined the band at it’s inception , set the standard for what will always be a benchmark, and set forth a mission statement for what the band should be, and should aspire to. If the band stayed exactly as it was at that time, it would have eventually become irrelevant and defeated what may presumably have been their original mission; to play the best damn music that you can, push the envelope of creativity, expand the horizons of where the music can go, challenge the status quo by tackling things beyond the comfort zone and evolve with the times and talents of all involved.

That hasn’t always been the case. As history shows, this ensemble has had their share of setbacks, unfortunate circumstances, inner strife and obstacles to overcome, but overcome they always have, and continue to do so. Greatness projected forth, comes from the greatness of the chemistry within. And right now may be the best chemistry all the way around since the origins of the group.

As were the early days of the band, these too are turbulent times. Our nation is in crisis on so many fronts, and the population is engaged more than I have seen in my adult life. Current event issues affect us all, and you can hear the passion in the music reflecting that we all need to bring about positive change in this world gone wrong. You can hear it. You can feel it. The seeds of revolution in our spirit are bursting from us all. Not a bloody revolution adding more chaos and pain, but a kinder revolution, if you will, to borrow the tag line from the upcoming Fall Mule tour. We have all had enough and desperately want to bring positivity to the fore.

Look at the last many years headlines; Katrina, Ike, the Tsunami, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, North Korea, Georgia(republic of), Rwanda, Sudan, Somalia, Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, earthquakes, forest fires, droughts, 9-11, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Jon Benet, serial killers, pedophiles, kidnappings, Gov’t excess and waste, gas prices, eroding civil rights and freedoms, healthcare costs, offshore outsourcing of jobs, and on, and on, and on……

The global societal turbulence has forced it’s way into all of our lives in one form or another. These frustrations, angst’s, fears, concerns and desires for positive change have crept into our psyche’s and ignited passions within us all to rally around something to make things improve. At a minimum it has raised our awareness.

On a creative level amongst talented artists, new innovation has been born of this fire. It is evident in many of that bands we hold dear to our hearts, and at least in some small way we are the benefactors of those endeavors.

Timing is everything, and coincidences do occur, but all things seem to have come together both internally and externally for the ABB and related bands that we admire, for them to excel in what they do and hit new heights in performance quality.

I’m not sure they have reached the apex yet. They still seem to be in ascension. This last tour spoke volumes in support of that sentiment. Higher power willing, I believe the best is yet to come.

And if he were alive today, given what we’ve heard and perhaps known of his passionate and fiery nature, don’t you agree that this is what Duane would have really aspired to, and driven for had he continued in life and in this band? We can only surmise.

Perhaps, I’m way off base on my suppositions’, and the band just wants to bring new creative life to their music for just that purpose alone, but in my mind, I imagine these other factors coming into play.

Or maybe I just have too much time on my hands…..

Others, in our community have done such a wonderful job in reviewing the Atlanta shows and after-parties, I don’t feel qualified to add to what has already been said. The reviews and insights of other’s have been brilliant and inspirational, so I won’t spoil them by attempting to say more.

I would like to touch upon our little (Buffalo) crews’ experiences on Sunday following the Atlanta concerts.

With almost a full Sunday at our disposal, we piled in the rental and headed south on I-75 for the 90 minute excursion to the sacred birthplace of this iconic band. Macon, Georgia. We set the GPS to 2321 Vineville Avenue, and we were off.

Lamenting the fact that we knew H&H was closed on Sunday’s, we researched our alternate options for some BBQ type dining. We randomly selected a place, but since we entered into Macon so close to the Big House, we decided to make that the first stop, snap a few pix and then be on our way toward some vittles. We had heard the residence would not be open, and figured we’d just take a few shots, and perhaps peek in the front windows.

As we pulled into the church parking lot across the street, we noticed a young girl and young man, roaming the front lawn, presumably boyfriend and girlfriend, fans like us. The girl enthusiastically waved to us and prodded us to cross the street and come over. We replied that we would as soon as we took a few photos of the front facade from our sidewalk vantage point. Once we crossed over, we discovered that this was not boyfriend and girlfriend fans like us, but a member of the Big House foundation who had just given a brief tour to another fan…the young man. The young woman introduced herself as Lindsey and proceeded to invite us in for an impromptu tour. Sweet! “How cool is that?”, I thought. Talk about perfect timing. If we had chosen to eat first, we would have merely taken pictures as originally planned and quickly been on our way. Karma? Fate? Coincidence? Who knows. But damn good fortune for us, that’s for sure. Lindsey, for those who don’t know her, or of her, is a young, attractive girl with a kind and giving spirit, full of enthusiasm and knowledge about the Big House / the Band and related things we’re all interested in.

I was, (as we all were), struck by this girls’ kind heartedness at taking a significant chunk of her Sunday afternoon to give us a guided tour of the entire premises, replete with insights regarding future plans, etc., with the site and the foundation. What we had the good fortune of seeing, was a once in a lifetime opportunity to view the entire house and hear some of the history as she so lovingly informed us. This act of kindness and selfless giving of time, was the highlight of the entire weekend, on a weekend already jammed full of good vibes and good memories.

Whenever I meet someone who is so accommodating and engaging, it makes me stop and think how much I appreciate that, and how I need to strive to be a better person myself. But, I digress. Bill Ector, by all accounts, was just such a person. I’m saddened by the fact that I never had the opportunity to meet him.

Many, many thanks to Lindsey of the Big House, (and HTN), for giving us such a wonderful experience.

After nearly an hour of reveling in the history of the Big House we bid Lindsey goodbye, thanked her for her generosity, and at her suggestion, made our way to a BBQ joint of her recommendation….which was quite good, by the way.

With full belly’s and good vibrations, we proceeded to see the other sites around Macon; the H&H, the College street house, the Bell House, Capricorn Studios, the Georgia Music HOF, and finally, most importantly to Rose Hill to view historically significant memorials and to pay respect to Duane and Berry.

We visited Liz Reed down by the tracks near the river and pictured Dickey formulating one of the greatest instrumental pieces of music by this band or any other. We viewed little Martha Ellis and imagined the pain of her loss which her family must have felt, inspiring Duane to pen such a beautiful acoustic melody that so tastefully concludes all ABB performances. Of course, we had to attempt to recreate the 1st albums’ back cover photo at the Johnston memorial, each taking a turn at Berry Oakley’s pose. Silly tourists.

I had been to Macon once before in 1996 for GABBA fest weekend, and viewed the graves of Duane and Berry without any barrier whatsoever. Small stones were placed on the tombs and people seemed very respectful of the site at that time. Sadly, that has not always been the case, and the fence had to be constructed to preserve the space. While I missed the access I once had, so many years ago, I thought the new construction was very tasteful and attractive, blending nicely with the surroundings. As much as we adored Duane and Berry as fans, we are not family, and must respect the rights and wishes of the family to protect their own, as we would protect ours.

You just cant help but have reverence for this place. There lie two founding members of this band that has brought so much joy to our lives in ways that they likely never envisioned themselves, all those years ago. Young men with a passion for music filled with the energy and enthusiasm of youth, setting out to explore their muse and conquer the world. They could not possibly have considered the deep ramifications of their music and the effect it would have on so many people, in so many different ways, nearly 40 years into the future.

Consider the lives that have been influenced as a result if this music. Friendships, relationships and families have been formed and forged in ways unimaginable to the young, long-haired hippies from the deep south, in the midst of the Vietnam war, civil rights issues and the general turbulence of those times. Children have been born into this world as a result of bonds formed in the shadow of this music. And this music really has been the sound track to our lives. It comforted us in times of sorrow, lifted our spirits to new heights on joyous occasions and carried us through the grind of daily life.

I moved away from the grave site and walked up a small rise to gain a new vantage point from which to take a wider angle photo of the newly enclosed memorial.

As I searched for the perfect spot, I stood silently, as the light rain shrouded the environs in a cool mist, and considered all these things, and what they have meant to my life. I could feel myself welling up with emotion, rapt in the aura of all this band has represented. The storied past, the legend, the mystery and mystique of the band. The soul drenched richness of the music that blends, and has blended, elements of rock, soul, country, blues and jazz. And finally, the sense of family and community that has grown within the band and among the many fans who adore them.

It is more than just music. Much more. It’s water and oxygen, life blood and sustenance, spiritual and ethereal, reverence and religion. It is life. It is love.

It speaks to you if you open your heart and mind to really listen.

People……..I won’t even ask…….I know you feel it.

We left the cemetery, the city of Macon and the state of Georgia, feeling much richer that day. We gained much wealth in the form of experiences had and knowledge acquired, that was shared with a wonderful group family and friends that expanded that weekend, just a little bit further.

What a great cap off to the ABB’s 2008 season and 39th year. Here’s looking forward to 2009 and beyond.

Eat a Peach for Peace.



 

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  posted on 10/17/2008 at 03:11 PM
All I can say is WOW...as I wipe a tear from my cheek. This is just about one of THE best reads on this site, for me. I truly felt like I was standing next to you, looking at all that there was to take in from your vantage point.

Thank you so much for sharing such a great and wonderful account of your recent visit to an area that I will surely get to next year.

Beautiful, beautiful words.

Peace.

 

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  posted on 10/17/2008 at 03:13 PM
WOW !!!!

Absolutely beautiful Jeff...thank you. Words that contain truth, emotion and sheer love for this band we call the Allman Brothers.

THANK YOU !!!!

Later, Karen, Lynn and all our babes....

 

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  posted on 10/17/2008 at 03:14 PM
What a great post Jeff!! This whole week I've just had a warm, positive glow from our visit last week. It had been since the early 80's since I had been to Macon. Our visit Friday pre-show made the concerts even better. Thanks for sharing bro.

 

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  posted on 10/17/2008 at 03:43 PM
If we ever have another Peachy Awards Ceremony, I nominate this for Post Of The Year.

That was beautiful , Jeff, and captures the sentiments of many of us here. Glad I got to meet you in ATL. Next time I see you, I owe you a beverage of your choice.

 

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  posted on 10/17/2008 at 04:41 PM
WOW..what a post

Had to walk around and get the water out of my eyes...

One of the best I've ever read on this site. I hope the HTN guys read this. It would make a great commentary in the mag...

Good meeting you on Saturday and Lindsey was there at the outing. She was the one handling the two dogs. And she is definitley an ABB fan to the max

Glad you enjoyed Macon. It is a special place...

 

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  posted on 10/17/2008 at 04:44 PM
Thanks bro. I appreciate all the kind words from you and everyone.

It was great meeting you and several others on this last trip as well. This forum, (not specifically "this" forum, but this forum in general; HTW, HTN, the Listserve, GABBA, Peach Corps., etc., has been such a wonderful way to connect with like minded folks and very good people.

It's amazing to me that we all in our own way, have privately celebrated this band and this music for many formative years, and with the advent of this technology, and visionary people like Lana and Rowland who have dedicated so much of their personal time, effort and love to this project, we all have had an unpreceidented opportunity to meet, share thoughts and ideas, and on special occasions come together to celebrate all these things.

Many years ago, we may have had the good fortune to bump into someone at a show, or a bar and strike up a conversation, potentially beginning a friendship, but this forum connects us all, nationwide and worldwide.

All of this; the music, the forums and the frienships gained as a result have greatly enriched my life.

Here's to you Dave, to Lana & Rowland, the band and all the good peeps in our community. I really look forward to future opportunities to see everyone again, hopefully strengthen old and new friendships and meet even more fine folks that have not yet acquainted.

I always liked the old Irish saying that says something like" May your house always be too small to hold all of your friends."

How true.

 

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  posted on 10/17/2008 at 04:45 PM
Hope Lindsey told you to go Fresh Air BBQ, best BBQ ever. Glad you had a good visit in Macon. A beautiful place.

 

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  posted on 10/17/2008 at 05:04 PM
You, sir, truly "get it."
This band, and the legacy of Duane Allman, go way past music.
There is a spiritual aspect. Many reading your words are silently nodding, knowing exactly what you are saying. Well put.
Hope we cross paths someday. Indeed a "love letter."


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  posted on 10/17/2008 at 05:17 PM
Very Cool...

Reminds me of our pilgramage to Macon - Bill Ector's first of many masterpieces published in HTN #2.

BTW - Lindsey is the Art Director for Hittin' the Note and you can see her creative side on every page of the magazine.

Nice read and a nice way to end the work week herre at HTN...

JNB

 

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  posted on 10/17/2008 at 05:52 PM
Now I have to explain to my wife and kids why I'm walking to the dinner table w/tears in my eyes.

Thanks Jeff. Thanks for taking the time. Thanks for making the trip to Hot'lanta and, of course, Macon.

I've often wondered what it will be like to see the Rose Hill for the 1st time....will I be alone, w/my brother...will I be w/my kids - if so, will they be old enough to care. Time will tell. I look forward to it. I look forward to every second I get to spend w/the ABB on any level.

Thank God for the Allman Brothers Band....

 

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  posted on 10/17/2008 at 05:54 PM
Don't know which is bigger - the smile on my face or the smile in my heart at reading your words, Jeff. Thanks for posting this!

 

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  posted on 10/17/2008 at 06:05 PM
Wonderful and thank you so much for sharing!!

 

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  posted on 10/17/2008 at 06:34 PM

God bless you, Jeff, for sharing your eloquent words with us. I, too, have felt the same welling of emotion you described so well.

There is something here that is bigger than all of us ...

 

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  posted on 10/18/2008 at 09:24 AM
Jeff, thank you so much.

 

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  posted on 10/18/2008 at 01:23 PM
I couldn't help myself. I came back today for another read. Same reaction. Tears, smiles, gratitude.

Thanks again!

Peace to you.


 

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  posted on 10/18/2008 at 06:37 PM
What a beautiful read. Thank you Jeff, for the generosity and taking the time to share your experience with us.

Looks like we missed a duesy of a weekend in Hot 'Lanta.

Here's to hoping we can make the Beacon happen this Spring.

peace

 

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  posted on 10/19/2008 at 01:01 AM
quote:
Now I have to explain to my wife and kids why I'm walking to the dinner table w/tears in my eyes.

Thanks Jeff. Thanks for taking the time. Thanks for making the trip to Hot'lanta and, of course, Macon.

I've often wondered what it will be like to see the Rose Hill for the 1st time....will I be alone, w/my brother...will I be w/my kids - if so, will they be old enough to care. Time will tell. I look forward to it. I look forward to every second I get to spend w/the ABB on any level.

Thank God for the Allman Brothers Band....



Let me know when you want to visit Rose Hill...

 

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