Allman Brothers return to Darien Lake on Friday

05:47 PM, Aug 20, 2013

Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes and the rest of The Allman Brothers perform Friday at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center. (Cory Schwartz/Getty Images)/


Written By Jeff Spevak | Staff music critic

If you go

What: The Allman Brothers Band with Steve Winwood opening.
When: 6:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23.
Where: Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, 9993 Alleghany Road, Darien Center, Genesee County.
Tickets: $29.50 for the lawn, $35, $45, $55 and $65, available at livenation.com, ticketmaster.com, (800) 745-3000 and the box office.

As far as Warren Haynes was concerned, The Allman Brothers Band was the gold standard for the kind of music he wanted to play. Blues-based southern rock.

But by 1980, The Allman Brothers were done, having collapsed beneath the weight of substance abuse and general dislike for each other. So when the 26-year-old hotshot was scooped up by Allmans guitarist Dickey Betts to play second guitar in The Dickey Betts Band, that looked to be as close as Haynes would get to the group that had been one of his prime influences.

They definitely had gone through times where they had vowed they would never play together again,” Haynes says. “During the three years I was with Dickey’s band, it was brought up, and the response was always a resounding ‘Never!’ “

Well, you know what they say about never. The Allman Brothers Band plays Friday at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center.

Although he dismisses most of his contributions to the Allmans with the comment, “They were kind enough to include me …,” Haynes is the guy who gets the lion’s share of the credit for keeping intact this American music institution. Once the warring band members got past “Never,” Haynes joined the Allmans in 1989 at Dickey’s invitation for their 20th anniversary tour. “It was a wonderful opportunity for me, but none of us thought it was gonna last,” Haynes says. “We just thought we were doing the anniversary tour.”

Now on the far side of its 40th anniversary, the Allmans remain resurrected by Haynes, who first added energy with his guitar and howling blues vocals, then through his songwriting and even drawing up the nightly set lists. He produced the band’s last studio album, 2003’s Hittin’ the Note, which most critics felt was the band’s best work in a couple of decades.

In truth, the Allman Brothers are busier these days with their separate projects than they are as the Allman Brothers. Drummer Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band played the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival in June. Derek Trucks, who teams up with Haynes to give the Allmans the spiraling twin-guitar attack created by Betts and the late Duane Allman, has his own solo career and a band with his singer-guitarist wife Susan Tedeschi, The Tedeschi-Trucks Band. And lead singer Greg Allman released an acclaimed solo album in 2012.

The 53-year-old Haynes has written songs with all of them, admitting the only pause in his schedule was a three-month break when he and his wife adopted a son, Hudson, now 2 years old. “Working and being with my family is all I do,” he says. Haynes lives in Westchester County, but much of the soft accent of his North Carolina roots remain in his voice.

In two weeks, the relentless Haynes releases another album by his powerhouse blues-rock group, Gov’t Mule. Shout is two discs. “The first is all Gov’t Mule, no guests,” Haynes says. “The second is alternate versions of the same songs with a different guest vocalist on each song.” Dave Matthews, Elvis Costello, Ben Harper, Dr. John, Grace Potter, Toots Hibbert of Toots & the Maytals, Steve Winwood, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, and a handful of others.

I think it’s a unique concept. We didn’t come up with the idea until midway through the recording,” says Haynes, insisting that he’s not worried about how his vocals stand in comparison. “A lot of these people are my favorite singers. I think it’s great to offer two different perspectives on a song. Half of them are older than me, half of them are younger than me, so you get the picture as to who I was influenced by.”

Now the elder statesman in the midst of all this activity, The Allman Brothers Band pretty much takes care of itself. Wind it up and let the guys play “Whipping Post,” “Midnight Rider” and epic jams such as “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.”

Everybody is always asking if there’s something new in the works,” Haynes says. “We do have some new material, but we don’t have an album of material.” Haynes, who estimates he’s written 25 or 30 songs for the Allmans over the years (his collaboration with Allman on “Desdemona” has become a live favorite) has added a couple of more of his songs for this tour. Also played on tour was material co-written with former Grateful Dead guitarist Phil Lesh and a couple of instrumentals put together by Haynes and Trucks, and others by bassist Oteil Burbridge and percussionist Marc Quiñones.

So it’s not like they’re standing completely still. “I think we just all kind of agreed to have a pretty relaxed work ethic,” Haynes says. “It’s hard to get everybody in the Allman Brothers together.”

What is new is, “we’ve been playing some cool covers that we’ve re-tweaked and turned into Allmans songs,” Haynes says. Last weekend, at the band’s own Peach Festival, the group opened its sets with the old bluesman Willie Cobbs’ “You Don’t Love Me,” Dr. John’s “I Walk on Guilded Splinters” and Elmore James’ “Done Somebody Wrong,” then later in the show adding Willie Dixon’s “The Same Thing” and Jimi Hendrix’s “1983 (A Merman I Should Turn to Be).” These emerged from the more than 200 shows that the band has played during its yearly series of shows at The Beacon Theatre. “When we play 11 nights at the Beacon in New York City, our goal is to play 100 songs,” Haynes says. “It’s more fun for us, plus we have so many guests who we try to accommodate.”

The regenerative force of the Allmans was once the influence of new players. Haynes and bassist Allen Woody, then Burbridge taking over after Woody’s death, then Trucks stepping in for the dismissed Betts. Now, it seems, it’s those retro-drenched nights at the Beacon that are pushing the Allmans onward.

That would be fair to say,” Haynes says. “It was always one foot in the past and one foot in the future.”