Living legend: Gregg Allman performs in Sarasota

Bradenton's favorite son plays sold-out show at the Sailor Circus Arena

mclear@bradenton.comJanuary 2, 2014 

Gregg Allman PHOTO PROVIDED

His first solo album was titled "Laid Back," and when you talk to Gregg Allman on the phone you get an idea why. He drawls and delivers taciturn sentences and vague answers.

He's coming to Sarasota on Jan. 8, his first concert in the area in years.

Someone asks if he'll be playing Allman Brothers classics? His own solo stuff? The blues covers that make up most of his latest album, the acclaimed "Low Country Blues?"

"A lot of all of it," Allman answers. Apparently he's not inclined to elaborate.

His son, Devon Allman, is opening the show. In fact they're touring the country together.

Devon has joined his father on stage occasionally over the years. Will Allman the father and Allman the son play together in Sarasota, or will they just perform their separate sets?

"You'll see when you get there," Allman says.

There's good reason Allman doesn't feel compelled to hype his upcoming show at the Sailor Circus Arena. It's been sold out for weeks.

Allman's shows are popular all over the world, but because he lived in Manatee County on a couple of different occasions, in the 1970s and the early 1990s, his following is especially fervent here.

He lives in Georgia now, near Savannah. Does it feel like a homecoming of sorts when he gets to play in the Bradenton area?

"Well…," Allman says, drawing out the noncommittal syllable as long as possible, as if anything he says might bother people who think of him as Manatee County's favorite son.

But Allman livens up when he's asked about the band he tours with, the one that will be backing him up for his Sarasota show.

"I got an ass-kicking band, bro," Allman says. "I just got me a new bass player."

At full strength it's an 11-piece band. But at the moment he's short a couple of horn players who won't be replaced in time for the Sarasota show.

"It's alright though," he said. "What I got is plenty powerful."

The Sarasota show will be the last stop on Allman's solo tour until he joins the Allman Brothers Band at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta on Jan. 10 for a one-time event called "All My Friends: Celebrating the Songs & Voice of Gregg Allman." About 20 bands and solo artists are slated to perform at the event, including Dr. John, Jackson Browne, Natalie Cole, John Hiatt, Keb' Mo', Don Was, Taj Mahal, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks and Widespread Panic.

The Atlanta event has also been sold out almost since the day it was announced, but it's being recorded and it's supposed to be on TV in April.

Details: 7 p.m. Jan. 8, Sailor Circus Arena, 2075 Bahia Vista Drive, Sarasota. Tickets: Sold out. Information: 941-355-9805, www.circusarts.org.

Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.

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