BY RICK MADIGAN
ESU English Professor
Gregg Allman brought his band to the Sherman Theater in downtown Stroudsburg on Tuesday, October 29, and his powerful and moving performance demonstrated that, despite his recent health problems, he is still one of our most vital blues performers.
The raucous and friendly crowd at the Sherman put Allman at his ease right away, and he did not disappoint his many enthusiastic fans.
His generous and extended set featured a combination of well-known tunes from the “Allman Brothers Band” songbook (“Statesboro Blues,” “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More,” “Midnight Rider,” “One Way Out,” “Hot ‘Lanta,” “Melissa,” “Whipping Post”) and a selection of songs from his solo abums (“These Days,” the wonderful Jackson Browne tune Allman has made his own, “Floating Bridge” from his very good recent album, “Low Country Blues”).
Throughout the evening, Allman, 65, was energetic and in good form, playing organ and, on some songs, guitar. It was good to hear his instantly recognizable, engaging blues voice still coming through so powerfully.
Although the crowd responded most vocally to the Allman Brothers standard hits (Allman received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 2012 for his work with the “Allman Brothers Band”), the entire set was well received, so much so that Allman complimented the audience more than once.
“We have a good bunch here tonight,” he said at one point. “It really helps.”
His band—Scott Sharrard on guitar, Ben Stivers on keys, Steve Potts on drums, Jay Collins on saxophones and flute, Jerry Jemmott on bass, Marc Quinones on percussion—provided excellent support, and each member soloed strongly when asked to do so.
Mr. Sharrard was a stand out on guitar, and it was especially good to hear Mr. Jemmott, the legendary rhythm and blues bass player who has worked with artists such as Aretha Franklin, B. B. King, Freddie King, and King Curtis. Mr. Collins’ versatility on baritone and tenor saxophone and flute was put to good and tasteful use throughout the evening.
By the end of the night, the affectionate crowd was dancing in the aisles, and some fans sang along with the famous blues repertoire.
When Allman and his band came back for the obligatory encore, they seemed happy to be on stage, and played another two songs to close out the evening, jamming extensively. No one seemed in any hurry to leave.
Allman’s fans had had the chance to hear one of the great voices of American blues and rock and roll (#70 on “Rolling Stone’s” list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time), and at every opportunity roared their approval.
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