The Allman Brothers Band reformed and had some of their greatest success after guitarist Duane Allman's tragic motorcycle death in 1971. (File photo)
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The Wanee (Fla.) Music Festival hits its 10th anniversary when it opens Thursday for a three-day run, with festival host band the Allman Brothers set headline it. But there's a sense of change as well as the event hits its milestone. Guitarists Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks will leave the Allman Brothers at the end of the year, and Gregg Allman, a co-founder of the group, says the Allman Brothers will likely wrap up its touring career in 2014 as well. Here are some recent -- old vintage -- looks at the legendary Southern rock group.
LIVE OAK, Fla. — Organizers may be celebrating 10 years of the Wanee Music Festival here Thursday-Saturday, but the celebratory nature of the landmark anniversary has taken on a measure of finality after two key members of festival hosts The Allman Brothers Band announced they would no longer play with the venerable Southern rockers after this year.
Still, despite guitarists Warren Haynes’ and Derek Trucks’ decision to devote more time to their respective bands — Gov’t Mule and the Tedeschi Trucks Band — and Allman Brothers co-founder Gregg Allman’s declaration that the Brothers will most likely wind up their touring career this year, Wanee 2014 is set to celebrate in style with the Allmans playing headlining shows Friday and Saturday, joined by enough talent to keep the festival faithful rocking into whatever future organizers decide starting with Wanee 2015.
Allman, who is overcoming a recent bout with bronchitis that forced the Brothers to cancel and reschedule four dates of their annual run at the Beacon Theater in New York, has battled any number of health issues in recent years. But Wanee regulars lauded last year’s performances by the Southern rock pioneers that Gregg and brother Duane Allman formed in 1969. The guitar-based Brothers have showcased over their 45-year career some of the greatest rock guitarists ever, including four who were named to Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 100 of all time: Duane Allman (who was second on the list), Haynes, Trucks and Dickie Betts.
“The bronchitis is pretty much gone. I feel almost 100 percent,” Gregg Allman said a week before Wanee ‘14’s kickoff. “I look forward to seeing the Allman Brothers Band’s fans at the Wanee festival.”
If the Brothers do indeed call it a career at the end of 2014, they obviously intend to go out with a bang. They’re scheduled to headline the 10th Mountain Jam Festival in Hunter Mountain, N.Y., June 5-8, and Gregg Allman is taking his solo band on a tour of Australia this summer, his first time playing Down Under.
Also, Hittin’ the Note Records has announced plans to release the tribute album “All My Friends: Celebrating the Songs & Voice of Gregg Allman” on May 6. The Double CD/DVD set will include contributions by Zac Brown, Jackson Browne, Eric Church, Martina McBride, Vince Gill, Trace Adkins, Widespread Panic, Taj Mahal, Jaimoe, John Hiatt, Pat Monahan, Dr. John, Jess Franklin, Brantley Gilbert, Keb’ Mo’, Sam Moore, Jimmy Hall, Robert Randolph, Devon Allman, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes and the Allman Brothers Band.
Fellow Southern rock survivors Lynyrd Skynyrd are among the Wanee ‘14 artists who are expected to make the 10th year of the festival memorable for the loyal fans who make Wanee part of their spring plans each year. Others scheduled to appear include the Trey Anastasio Band, Tedeschi Trucks, Gov’t Mule, Ziggy Marley, Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band, Blues Traveler, Rusted Root, the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Hot Tuna Electric, moe., the Blind Boys of Alabama, Berry Oakley’s Skylab and Ivan Neville’s Dumpstafunk.
Those artists join an impressive brotherhood of free-spirited musicians who have made the trek to north Florida since the festival debuted in 2005, including Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant, Widespread Panic, Leon Russell, Sister Hazel, Levon Helm, Les Claypool, Furthur, Drive-By Truckers, Little Feat, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, the Doobie Brothers, Buddy Guy, former Doors great Ray Manzarek, the Steve Miller Band, Stephen Stills, the Black Keys and Dr. John.
Michael Glabicki, whose band Rusted Root is coming back to perform at Wanee after a three-year absence, said there is a gathering-of-the-tribes feel to the festival.
“It’s like you’re a part of an outlaw community from around the country, and everyone comes to Wanee to party together,” Glabicki said. “As much as we enjoy playing at the festival, we love having the opportunity to see everybody again and say hi.”
Wanee organizers, who hold the festival at the Spirit of Suwannee Music Park near Live Oak, team each year with organizations that contribute to the region. This year, organizers are helping in the fight against hunger by teaming with Conscious Alliance to collect non-perishable food items. Fans who donate at least 20 items will receive a free official Wanee 2014 poster.
Also added to the festival this year are book readings and question-answer sessions with Alan Paul, who wrote the definitive “One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band,” and Galadrielle Allman, whose book is titled, “Please Be With Me: A Song for My Father Duane Allman.” Both will sign copies of their books throughout the festival.
Wanee, which features free primitive camping with the purchase of a three-day ticket, kicks off Wednesday at 3 p.m. with the early-bird “Wanee Wednesday Happy Hour.” Music starts Thursday at 12:30 p.m., and full days of performances are scheduled Friday and Saturday.