An interview with Gregg Allman can easily go off topic, which in this case means several intended questions — including those about his new concert CD/DVD, Gregg Allman Live: Back To Macon, GA, and the status of Midnight Rider, the movie biopic about the Allman Brothers that was shelved after a train accident on the set left one dead and six injured — go unasked.
Allman has a way of starting to answer a question, only to have his thoughts take him down a completely different path. That’s not a bad thing because Allman’s answers sometimes lead to stories (or even revelations) that are easily as interesting as anything he might have said had he stayed on point.
For instance, a query about what has been a busy year of touring for Allman and his road band quickly turns to his immediate plans for 2016.
“That’s the way it is when you have new bands,” Allman says about his decision to tour extensively during 2015. “You want to get out and get as many people to check out your band as you can. And in February, we plan to go straight to Muscle Shoals (studio) with Mr. Don Was (producer) and cut all new material.”
And there it is, a simple break-the-ice opening question reveals plans to make a new studio album working with producer Was, whose many credits include projects with the Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt, Paul Westerberg, Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson.
Allman, in earlier interviews, has talked about plans to some day make a solo album of all-original material, titled All Compositions By… Apparently, the next album will not be that project.
“There are so many (tunes) I want to cut,” Allman says. “There’s like four different Jackson Browne songs that I have all different kinds of arrangements to, and there are some old, old, ancient blues songs. There’s one [song] that’s on the new record (Back To Macon, GA) that came out called ‘Kerosene.’ That one will be on that — well it may be or maybe not. It’s already on this [live] record, so if we run out of space [it could get left off the next album]. I usually like to go in and cut 20 [songs] and pick from that because I always like to put as close to a dozen as I can [on an album]. Then you wind up with plenty in the can, if there’s a call for them, even the next year. That’s the way the Brothers used to do it.”
Right there, Allman’s thoughts turn to a potential project that would undoubtedly create plenty of curiosity and anticipation among Allman Brothers Band fans if it ever happens — a compilation of the group’s unreleased material.
“I was thinking about that the other day, if I could round up all of that stuff, I mean, there’s great stuff on outtakes [by the Allman Brothers]. I would love to have [that released],” he says. “There’s a lot of stuff, actually.”
Allman is on a roll by this time. A question about the setlist he and his eight-piece band (including a threeman horn section) will play at its September and October dates somehow turns to a brief discussion about his distaste for Spotify, the online service that streams music by thousands of artists, but, he says, pays artists next to nothing for the rights to play their music.
“Making records anymore, with things like Spotify, is a joke as compared to the way it used to be — because it’s free,” Allman says. “Usually they pay us, but not Spotify. I’m thinking seriously about yanking all of my stuff off of that station. I mean, a lot of people have, and one by one, every day someone yanks their stuff off of it because they don’t even pay the writer.”
As things continue, Allman touches on a disparate range of other topics.
He praises his excellent touring band, which on the Back To Macon, GA CD/DVD sounds potent and tight, tells the story about how he fell in love with the guitar — and music in general — as a pre-teen youngster and how his brother, Duane, essentially forced him to become a lead singer by threatening to boot him from their pre-Allman Brothers Band group, the Allman Joys.
Finally, storytime comes to an end, leaving one last question about the Allman Brothers Band’s final shows last October. The group played six shows that culminated at the Beacon Theatre in New York on Oct. 28, 2014 with a marathon four-hour set drawn from the classic first five albums released by the group from 1969 to 1973.
“Man, that was a real magic six nights, it really was,” Allman says of the final Beacon shows. “Each night, we were smoking, man. It was very good. You could almost change your mind about it being the last (show). But it was a very beautiful thing, 45 years, with all its changes and ups and downs. If I could do it over again, I don’t think I’d change much of anything.”
ON THE BILL: Gregg Allman, 8 p.m.Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 13 and 14, Boulder Theater, 2032 14th St. Boulder, 303-786-7030.