Gregg Allman: Low Country Blues

The blues are forever. Either you feel ‘em or you don’t. A raging river with so many tributaries, the blues creeps into other musics like a crawlin’ king snake. At this point in his long and celebrated rock ’n’ roll career, 63-year-old Gregg Allman has morphed into one of those Delta bluesman he’s emulated since the 1960s.

Hell, we certainly don’t have John Lee Hooker or Howlin’ Wolf around anymore but damn if we don’t have Gregg Allman! And with Low Country Blues—his seventh solo album and first in 13 years—the Georgia boy has elevated himself into the pantheon (much like Dr. John and Taj Mahal) of real life authentic bluesmen.

He’s had some help. Dr. John, whom Allman last worked with in 1977, is on piano throughout. Producer T Bone Burnet and Doyle Bramhall II play guitar. Gregg’s ragged-but-right vocals, Hammond B-3 organ and acoustic guitar are augmented by a brass section, background girls, upright bass and drums. Gregg calls the band a bitch and he ain’t kidding.

Burnet reportedly went through his hard drive of 10,000 obscure blues recordings and sent 20 of ‘em to Gregg to consider. Gregg picked 11—old, old classics from decades back—by the likes of Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Sleepy John Estes, Skip James, Little Milton and even one so ancient (“I Believe I’ll Go Back Home”) it’s in the Public Domain. The one original, “Just Another Rider,” written with fellow Allman Brother Warren Haynes, fits right in.

In A Word: Real