By Tad Dickens
Before getting started with last night’s music, let’s take a minute for Gregg Allman, who is still among the living, but has left friends and fans concerned about his condition after cancelling at least two shows last week, including his scheduled main stage headlining set Saturday night at FloydFest.
I have only heard rumors of his condition, but to me it’s telling that there was no tweet from him about missing last night. After his cancellation at Wilmington, North Carolina, on Friday, a tweet from his page read: "'North Carolina, y'all have always been good to me. Thank you for understanding. I'll make it up to ya.' – Gregg"
The previous tweet had encouraged folks to come see and hear him last night at FloydFest. There has been nothing from him or his camp online since FloydFest announced that he was ill.
But the Keller Williams- and Leftover Salmon-curated supergroup that filled his last Saturday slot made sure to give him his musical propers, as did Allman’s former bandmate, Warren Haynes, in the set preceding the headliner.
Haynes and his Dixie-Dregs-meets-Americana project, Ashes & Dust, closed its set with a scorching version of The Allman Brothers Band’s classic instrumental, “Jessica.” Granted, it’s a Dickey Betts song, and an instrumental, but also a fitting tribute. Sad that Haynes and Allman didn’t get to jam last night, as Allman had hoped.
Keller Salmon, which I love as a band name that isn’t actually a band name, put its two cents in on the ABB chestnut “Whipping Post.” This mad dervish version, with Williams singing, was to my ears the and most unique cover anyone has done of a song that by itself could have ensured Allman’s entry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Plenty of good sit-ins in that set from members of Elephant Revival, the T Sisters (more about them later) and Botetourt County native Erin Lunsford. But the highlight for me was a cover of Blind Willie Johnson’s “Nobody’s Fault But Mine.” Pimps of Joytime singer Kim Dawson just flat tore up that number. Chills and cheers.
FloydFest dubbed that set its inaugural “Buffalo Mountain Jam.” It's a great idea that they should keep doing. Give a couple of these acts a week or two to figure out what they want to do, and it could wind up beyond category.
Dawson later appeared on FloydFest’s brand new pond stage, site of its “secret show.” Both she and Mayteana Morales are killer singers, and great counterpoints to Brian J. But the Pimps are hiding Dawson. She should be singing more. What a voice. This stage should remain, as it provides the best link, vibe-wise, to the old Global Village Stage, which the Pimps dommed about six years ago.
Earlier, I had a choice between the great Afrobeat performer Femi Kuti & Positive Force and The Wood Brothers, whom I had missed (save for an Instagram clip in passing) in their main stage set. I leaned toward my old classmate Oliver Wood at Hill Holler on Saturday, only catching Kuti in passing. Many raved about Kuti.
The Woods did such a good set, with singalongs – so proud that my buddy writes very cool sing-along songs! And they invited up Oakland, California’s T Sisters, who joined The Wood Bros for their “Keep Me Around.” The sisters, with no rehearsal time with the Woods, did it “better than we could ever do,” Oliver Wood told the crowd.