Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Talked to Jesus at Bull Run

Had a religious experience Sunday night that woke me up, rocked my soul and took away all my pain.

In other words, it made me realize that I am a living, breathing, human being meant to enjoy life and be happy - something so easily overlooked until you are staring down at a hole dug six feet deep and frantically reaching back trying to grab onto what you never had in the first place.

Butch Trucks and The Freight Train Band. They were playing at a supremely funky venue in Shirley, MA called Bull Run.

Butch Trucks is one of the founding fathers of The Allman Brothers Band, which makes him a god to me.

Since the Allman Brothers split up in the fall of 2014 there has been an enormous musical hole in my soul. When I realized Butch was playing at Bull Run I contacted my friend Phil, a friend since the second grade and a fellow Allman Brothers worshiper, and we made our plans.

Met at a hotel nearby, where we also spent the night, and motored on over to Bull Run, courtesy of Uber.

We knew nothing of Butch's band, had no idea who was playing with him, but we had no doubts that this band would rock.

Bull Run is a very cool place. Housed in a funky old country building with a rustic restaurant and pub, and a concert hall that is small and set up with communal tables where you can eat and drink. It is an intimate way to enjoy music.

As we sat in the restaurant and chowed magnificent prime rib, we laughed as we compared this experience and where we are now in our lives, to the many insane excursions we made over the years to Allman Brothers concerts.

Every summer we would get ten or twelve guys together, head to the concert in a van, party for a couple of hours in the parking lot, rattle our brains and elevate our souls in the concert and then somehow make it home alive, thanks to the one guy who always took the bullet as the designated driver.

It was a blast.

One thing that blew us away was that Sunday night was equally as good. We agreed that the concert was every bit as good as any Allman Brothers concert we have been to. And we enjoyed it in comfort and semi-sanity.

Butch and the band rocked the house. They played a bunch of Allman Brothers songs and they played the shit out of them. Jaw dropping virtuosity on every instrument.

After a few songs Butch introduced the band. When he introduced the bass player Phil and I were blown away. His name is Berry Duane Oakley Jr. and he is the son of Berry Oakley who was a founding father of The Allman Brothers Band and also a bass player.

Berry Oakley died in a motorcycle accident in 1972, three years after The Allman Brothers Band exploded onto the music scene. Phil and I never got to see him play live. Seeing his son up close and personal meant a lot to us.

Then Butch introduced Vaylor Trucks - his own son. Again we were blown away; we had no clue. But after the first couple of songs we wondered to each other who he was because he played his guitar with insane and exquisite beauty and abandon.

We also wondered what he has been doing all these years and why he was never a part of the Allman Brothers Band. Butch's nephew, Derek Trucks, played with the Allman Brothers for decades. Vaylor has the talent and obviously the best connection he could possibly have and yet we were not even aware of him.

The music biz is a slippery, unpredictable thing.

Butch's lead singer is a very young, (21 years old) very attractive woman named Heather Gillis. I was skeptical at first but she won me over. Big time.

This woman can play.

She even sang some iconic Gregg Allman songs, which is a pretty ballsy thing for any singer to do. "Trouble No More", "Statesboro Blues", and..............................."Whipping Post." She kicked ass.

"Whipping Post" was mind blowing. It is the most iconic of the Allman Brothers catalogue of songs and it starts with an ominous and instantly recognizable bass riff.

A riff written by and performed by Berry Oakley. Butch and the band played the song as an encore. When they were briefly off stage Phil and I wondered if they would have the balls to do the song, which was part of the typical ABB encore.

Butch came back and said "we are going to play a song for you and Berry is gonna kick it off." Boom, everybody knew what it was and when those first few notes kicked in I was overwhelmed; overwhelmed to witness Berry Oakley's son perfectly playing the song his father had made famous.

Sweet circle of life, baby. Eternal circle of music.

What a fucking night. We were up on our feet often, applauding in delirious appreciation. Digging this band in such a small and intimate setting; sitting around a table with other ABB fans. We consumed a lot more wine, beer and whiskey than either of us is used to these days and we had a goddamn blast doing it.

What an unbelievable bonus to be digging the night with my closest friend in the world, Mr. Phillip J. Camerlengo.

I would be remiss if I did not name every member of this supremely talented band:

Tad Isch, Damon Fowler, Bruce Katz, Heather Gillis, Vaylor Trucks, Berry Duane Oakley Jr., and .....................................Butch Trucks.

A shot of adrenaline to shatter the every day is sweet medicine every once in a while.

Dig it, baby.

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