John Hall, singer-songwriter, ex-congressman, ex-Saugerties School Board member, former county legislator and longtime area resident who will be presented the Spirit of Woodstock award at an event this Saturday afternoon, June 3, played many times with musician Greg Allman, who passed last weekend. Hall wrote the following appreciation for his friend on Facebook:
Like so many others who have posted about the passing of Gregg Allman, I feel a need to express how important he and his music and ABB were and are to me and to Orleans…I first met Gregg and Duane in 1971 when touring as part of Taj Mahal’s band with the four tubas. Taj and the original Allman Brothers Band did a run of gigs in the Southeast, alternating opening and closing the show. I walked into the dressing rooms backstage at one college we played, and came across Duane and Dickey playing electric guitars with no amps, trading solos on a shuffle 12-bar blues. I took out my Strat, sat down and started playing along. After a couple of times around, they turned to me and nodded. I did my solo turn, then went back to rhythm again. After twenty minutes or so, we coalesced into a standard blues ending. Only then did we shake hands and introduce ourselves.
Gregg inspired Wells Kelly, our original drummer who also played great keyboards and sang with a rough voice inspired by Gregg among others. Wells’ brother Sherman, co-author of Dancin’ In The Moonlight, also loved to play and sing Gregg’s songs.
Larry Hoppen and I first met at a jam session in NYC in 1971, where we wound up playing harmony lead guitar over a long funk jam in D, at one point quoting from the melody of Age of Aquarius. The double leads of the Allmans were the first template for our double lead work, culminating in the harmony guitar solo on Still The One among other tracks.
Orleans opened for the Allmans several times over the years. Last July we played at Gregg’s Laid Back Festival at Jones Beach, a special honor because he chose all the performers.
One of my fondest (and scariest) memories is sitting in with the Allmans at Jones Beach in 2009, while I was in the House Of Representatives and didn’t have time to practice guitar often. Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks were in the band then, and Gregg invited me (with my suit and Congressional pin on) to sit in on their encore, Southbound. They were hot and all warmed up from doing a two hour set. Two choruses into the song they turned to me and said “take it!” I felt like I was running to catch up and jump onto a speeding train. I think I played OK for a politician, but I was glad to get back on the rhythm part. They slapped me on the back and said “good job.” I look back at all of this, these fleeting interactions with Gregg and his guys, and think how grateful and lucky I am to have walked with giants.