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Biker Bop

[whitespace] What would an Allman Brothers show be without black light?

By David Espinoza

PLAYING SUNDAY night at Shoreline, along with a new guitarist young enough to be some of the founding members' own child, the Allman Brothers Band hashed out new and old material with the confidence that only comes with 30 years of nonstop touring. I remember the first time I saw these grizzly bikers--it was at the Greek Theater down in L.A. with my dad and a few thousand aging hippies and younger fans, all toking on the same peace pipe. It was like a giant flashback to the counterculture festivals of the late '60s and early '70s. But rather than be a sad attempt to recapture times past (a la Woodstock '94 and '99), the Allman Brothers have stayed in the game for so long because it's what they're best at: playing live.

Guitarist Dickey Betts remains a master of the blues, as does Gregg Allman on the Hammond B-3 organ. During Sunday's show, a live video of the band played while the backstage backdrop featured swirly psychedelic colors. And what would an Allman Brothers concert be without black lights? The new slide guitarist--Derek Trucks (nephew of founding drummer Butch Trucks)--is no Duane Allman, but he comes close. I was particularly impressed by his ability to play by finger plucking instead of using a guitar pick. Unfortunately, the young Trucks lacks much of the stage presence his older bandmates possess. Throughout the night, even when the spotlight was shining on him, Trucks stayed stone-faced, barely moving at all. Perhaps he could use a lesson from Betts, who after all these years still can't help but move to his music. Watching the video screen close in on the tattooed-up, cowboy-hat-wearing Betts, you could see the dirt between the frets of his Stratocaster. To think, after three decades of touring, this guy still makes a kid like me want to pick up the guitar again--the band must be doing something right.

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From the August 5-11, 1999 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 1999 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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