Monday, April 02, 2007

A Strange Thing Happened On The Way to The Beacon...

greg allman
there i was, on the every edge of the stage at the beacon theater taking pictures of greg allman with the digital camera that tracey moffatt and franco mondini-ruiz gave me for my birthday, surrounded by drunken freaks that were dancing in a haze of pot smoke, and all i could think was, how did i get here?

i'm glad i asked.

some weeks ago, i wrote about a book i'd read called layla and assorted love songs on and posted it here. it was about layla and assorted love songs the album by derek and the dominoes. it basically told the story behind the music and delved into the legendary 7th century islamic poem that tells the tragic love story of majnun and layla. riveting stuff. i loved it.

some weeks later, i get an email from john lyndon who offers me an orchestra seat ticket to see the allman brothers. it seems that he and 66 of his friends are making the annual trek to new york city for march madness. how did he find me? the essay i wrote was sent to him from someone's rock and roll list -- it even reached the author jan reid somewhere down the line, who wrote to me as well -- but strangely enough, bobby whitlock's wife coco was the one who found me initially. the author was the real surprise. his family is close friends with linda wetherby, someone i shared a stage with for three years as a member of rotel and the hot tomatoes when i lived in austin some years ago. for all either of us know, i probably met him in passing somewhere on sixth street. the world isn't small, folks. it's teensy.

john and his friends make sure that they come to new york city for march madness every year. he's been making a habit of seeing the band and hanging out backstage since '69 when his brother twiggs was the allman brother's original road manager and his brother scoot was their guitar roadie. john is now a divorce lawyer in athens, georgia. sweet man. he even had a backstage pass for me. i met up with him and about 20 others at ruby foo's up the street from the beacon. they had all read the layla remarks and were very much interested in meeting me. one of them, a rather perky apple-cheeked mom of a blonde said that she was surprised that i wasn't older. "i thought you'd be in your fifties or something," she shrugged. she almost sounded disappointed. after i plopped down next to her and she took a good look at my uppity negress t-shirt, she laughed and said that she wanted one.

the show was everything i wanted it to be: acid trippy visuals, top-notch musicianship and an audience that was absolutely on fire for their band, their heroes. it was crazy, hearing so much music coming at me all at once, music that i was so deeply connected to, emotionally. so much of it was a part of my southern childhood. flashes of relatives long gone played out against my mind's eye -- bits and pieces of conversation and situations and happy times i thought i'd long forgotten. it was completely overwhelming. later, there would be an ever-churning hoarde backstage, laughing and talking and leaning against the walls, with greg allman was secreted away on another floor, far from the maddening crowd. i was introduced to jaimoe backstage and i even got his autograph for nicole's boyfriend pete, as a surprise birthday present. but that feeling that exploded in me when i heard those songs out loud, that still hasn't left me.

the allman brothers @ the beacon, nyc

i think that's the whole point, really. when you're emotionally attached to a song, it belongs to you. what you're buying (or downloading illegally, whatever the case may be) is that emotional pull. the thing is, there's so much crap out there music-wise that does not move me whatsoever that i think i'd forgotten what that pull felt like. it took this show at the beacon to remind me.

now i want more. but where will i get it?

No comments: