When the Allman Brothers Band rolled out of Macon, Ga., in 1969, Gregg Allman says he "never thought we'd make enough to pay rent," much less still be around in 2007.
But after band member deaths, drug addictions and all manners of inner-band turmoil, the Allmans are still taking their fans down to the whipping post, with a lineup that the singer-keyboardist calls "really, really good" and has restored a sense of balance to the group after the 2000 firing of co-founder Dickey Betts.
"Everyone's in good spirits, man," says guitarist Derek Trucks, the 28-year-old nephew of Allmans drummer Claude "Butch" Trucks, who's been with the group since 1999 "Everyone's clean and healthy and mentally in a good place. It seems like all the drama is gone and it's just guys enjoying playing music together.
"It's the most fun I've had in the band, ever."
Allmans fans, of course, hope that spirit leads to more new material -- and soon. The group's last set of all-fresh songs was 2003's "Hittin' the Note," and while the musicians are anxious to deliver something new, too, Allman cautions that "there will be no wine before its time," especially with outside projects that include Trucks' own band and work with Eric Clapton and guitarist Warren Haynes' double-duty with the group Gov't Mule.
"We write and we write and we write until it's time, and then all of a sudden, 'Bingo! It's time to record, guys,' and we act on it," explains Allman, 59, who's also writing songs for his solo band.
"You usually start with somewhere between 18 and 26 (songs), and there's about two-thirds of that around now, I guess. So it'll probably be next year. That's what we're hoping for, anyway."
The Allman Brothers Band and Robert Randolph & the Family Band perform at 6:30 p.m. Friday (August 24th) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $55 and $35 pavilion, $25 lawn. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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