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Hamptons Life

Jul 25, 2011 2:03 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Allman Brothers Drummer Shares Stage With Local Band

Jul 25, 2011 2:40 PM

These are quiet days for the legendary rock group the Allman Brothers Band, which has been on a near constant tour since its inception in 1969, having performed thousands of concerts across the globe.

Lead vocalist Gregg Allman, who performed at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center the last two years, is currently out promoting his new solo album while guitarists Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks are touring with their own bands. That means the Allman Brothers Band members have been on a hiatus since their annual run of concerts at New York’s famed Beacon Theatre came to an end in March.

So what has drummer and founding member Butch Trucks been up to these past few months?

“Mostly I’m bored shitless,” Mr. Trucks said during a recent telephone interview from his home in Florida, erupting into laughter.

The drummer’s personal doldrums will end next week, however, when he travels north to play a two-night gig with local jam band Great Caesar’s Ghost at Guild Hall in East Hampton. The concerts, which will benefit East End Food Pantries, will be held on Monday, August 1, and Tuesday, August 2, and Mr. Trucks, for one, is very much looking forward to the performances.

“Just to get a chance to go out and play a little bit and have some fun will be nice,” Mr. Trucks said. “I’ve been touring for 42 years so staying in the same place for five months is kind of hard.”

The Guild Hall performances, for which general and VIP seating will be available, might be just two more nights of jamming for a rock legend, but members of Great Caesar’s Ghost said the opportunity to play with one of their heroes is a dream come true. The band, which is based out of the Bridgehampton recording studio owned by lead singer and guitarist Larry Schmid, has long been influenced by the Allman Brothers, and even released a tribute album to the legendary band, titled “First There is a Mountain,” in 2009.

“By far, without question, two of the greatest guys to sit behind a drum kit in any genre are Butch Trucks and Jaimoe,” drummer Ed DiCapua said, referring to the Allman’s other longtime percussionist, Jai Johanny Johanson. “That’s why this is such a big honor for me. These guys are second to none.”

Mr. DiCapua and Mr. Trucks will each have his own drum kit on stage during the Guild Hall shows.

The Great Caesar’s Ghost drummer said the notion of the double drums, which was made famous in the 1970s by both the Allman Brothers and the Grateful Dead, is no different from having two guitars on stage. Mr. DiCapua added that while he will be “watching everyone” in the band and giving them their cues, “I’m certainly going to defer to Butch Trucks, just from a standpoint of respect and honor.”

Mr. Schmid said the concerts are extra special for Great Caesar’s Ghost because almost the entire original line-up will be back together, including guitarists Ray Penney and Peter “Bosco” Michne, bassist Larry Hunter and keyboardist Keith Hill. Jerry Weldon, a well-known jazz saxophonist from New York City, will also join the band at Guild Hall.

“It’s a really cool thing to have an opportunity like this,” Mr. Schmid said. “We’re not really a tribute band, but we’ve taken the Allmans’ canvas and added our own fresh paint. So with these concerts, at face value, you’re sitting in with a rock star, but for us it’s a little deeper than that.

“If you like the Allmans, the Grateful Dead and the blues,” Mr. Schmid added, “you’re going to have a great night.”

Mr. Trucks met the members of Great Caesar’s Ghost four years ago through John Leonard, a mutual friend who was a close neighbor to both Mr. Schmid in Bridgehampton and Mr. Trucks in Palm Beach, Florida. Mr. Leonard knew that the local band was heavily influenced by the Allman Brothers’ music so he set up the meeting at Mr. Schmid’s studio.

The upcoming concerts in August were a more recent idea which sprouted from that original meeting.

“Several years ago I had heard about Great Caesar’s Ghost, and it’s always very flattering to hear these bands that cover your material,” Mr. Trucks said. “And when I went to their studio and heard them play, it was really very flattering because these guys can play. They’ll play ‘Elizabeth Reed’ and it might not be Dickey Betts or Duane Allman on guitar, but those guitar players have their own voices. They just use our songs as a structure.”

Mr. Trucks said he would be able to attend only one rehearsal session with the band prior to taking the stage at Guild Hall, adding “That’s what I do, that’s the way I play.”

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And Butch still has it! One of the best drummers of all time!
By fritzdaddy (34), southampton on Jul 26, 11 7:35 PM
8k run & 3 mile walk, Agawam Park, Southampton Rotary Club fundraiser