Southern Charm comes to the North Coast

A Weekend with the next Allman Generation                                                                             Vol. 11 - Issue 2

 

By: Trenda Jones,  Jan. 2011

Michael Allman, eldest child of southern rock legend Gregg Allman flew into town Friday, Jan. 14 to hang with his buddy, Cleveland songster, Ted Riser. Arriving at the Redhawk in Concord Twp. as Ted and his band covered songs from Pure Prairie League to Poco to Pink Floyd, along with original tunes such as "Harpersfield Dam".

Ted handed the mic. over to Michael, but not before he called his daughter so she could hear her favorite Allman Brothers song. Ted hit the E chord and Michael started "Crossroads seem to come and go, the gypsy flies from coast to coast…sweet Melissa."

Singing a handful of Allman favorites, then ending the night with "Whipping Post".

The "wow factor" was most definetly Michael’s likeness to his father’s voice, a rare treat for a weekend night in Lake County.

Anxiously awaiting Saturday night, knowing that Cleveland’s Brothers Lounge will be rockin’ with Ted Riser’s Triple Tribute Show. Ted has assembled some of the most exceptional musicians to recreate the sounds of Neil Young with "Hurricane", Marshall Tucker with "Long Hard Ride" and The Allman Brothers with "Whipping Post"- and this night with special guest Michael Allman.

Along with rock-n-roll photographer, Jeff Hace, I arrived at 7:30 looking forward to my interview with Michael after meeting his father some twenty years ago. As music fans poured into a standing room only crowd, I had a most delightful conversation with Michael. He grew up in Daytona Beach, Florida and it’s true what they say about southern boys, this one has it for sure-"southern charm!" I was quite taken by his softspokeness after hearing his gritty, bluesy voice resonate in song. He says he still gets nervous when he performs although one would never know hearing him belt out the soulful sounds of his father’s songs and those of his own.

Michael doesn’t play an instrument other than plucking on a guitar to write. He say’s "I just love to sing, I always have." Other than his dad and uncle’s band, his earliest influences was gospel group "The Deep River Boys" and the black R&B artists of the south. As a teen, he listened to Triumph and Journey. "Steve Perry is amazing, one of my all time favorite singers. As a kid, I could sound a lot like him, ya know, before a boy’s voice starts to change." We laugh as he tells me how he would practice singing in front of a mirror using a hairbrush for a michrophone. "Who hasn’t done that as a kid?" I said, as I confessed "I used a curling iron!"

Michael’s first performance in front of an audience was in Daytona about twenty years ago. Derek Trucks called him on stage for a song, he said he was so nervous, but absolutely loved it and knew this is what he wanted to do.

Adulthood brought Michael a twelve year marriage and two sons. In the 90’s he was front man for "The Michael Allman Band". He took a break from music and was in the trades as an electrician and carpentry framer, knowing that one day he would return to the stage. His sons are not in the music business, but a few siblings are. Of his brother Devon he says: "He is a hell of a guitar player, and the hardest working Allman!" "I have a lot of respect for him and his band "Honeytribe." Elijah Blue aka Philips Exeter Blue, has a band called Deadsy, "They have a different kind of sound, not traditional Allman style. Sister Layla is in a metal band, "Picture Me Broken".

Michael currently lives in Florida, this has been his fifth trip to Cleveland. He has not been to The Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame, but is looking forward to it soon. He did enjoy the snow! Requesting his photo is taken in it, then teasing. "But the boots I’m wearing are for the sand!" LOL Michael, thanks for rubbing it in!

The Poor Elijah Foundation:

Dedicated to assisting musicians to develop strong business ethics and provide financial relief to the working musician who does not qualify for assistance otherwise.

A cause Michael is proud to be a part of. He has recently recorded a CD to support this cause called "Michael Allman and the friends of poor Elijah"

For more info.- www.poorelijahfoundation.org

On his Father:

"My dad is doing well, I just don’t get to see him as much as I’d like."

"He’s got a new CD out called "Low Country Blues"

This is Gregg Allman’s first solo album in 14 yrs. And he is touring again, amazingly, after liver transplant surgery last June.

Hard Labor Creek:

No doubt there are comparisons to his famous fathers’ voice, but Michael’s CD of 10 original songs has its own stellar qualities. Michael showcases his writing ability on half of the material and his soulful delivery welcomes any music fan. Three years in the making "Hard Labor Creek" proves to be worth the wait.

Hear a sample - michaelallmanband.com

Favorite Book:

Jonathon Livingston Seagull; "It’s kind of a kid book, but not really, I just always liked the message." It is a story about seagull learning about life, and his overwhelming passion for flight. It is a lesson on morals, behavior and self perfection. Although he became an outcast, he continued to learn and strive to be the best at his passion. He ultimately learns that love, respect and forgiveness are just as important as ability to be successful.

Standing 6 feet 4 inches, Michael sways across the room to a seat in the corner. Seemingly a bit shy, yet welcoming fans who approached him. He gladly posed for pictures and made everyone feel like a friend.

SHOWTIME!

"Hurricane" starts the night. Ted Riser (vocals, guitar, harmonica), and his band: Dave Miller (guitar), Kenny (Buff) Marklow (bass), JB Smooth (upright bass), Steve Masek (keyboard), Greg Campoletti (drums), Tom Foster (steel pedal & guitar) and this time an added touch with Cathy Miller on fiddle. Ted and Cathy met on Facebook just weeks ago. What’s so impressive is that they never met in person until this performance. Ted gave her his schedule and told her to come sit in when she could. So, she did and she dazzled. Cathy told me later, she only knows a couple Neil Young songs, she just watched Ted’s hands for the chords! A great talent, and Ted was thrilled with the little "extra" she added to the show. Ted embraced the crowd with his perpetual smile and remarkable renditions of Neil Young hits like Heart of Gold, Sugar Mountain and Old Man. Outstanding!

"Long Hard Ride", trading a fiddle player for a flutist, Diane Leonardi shines on the flute as the Marshall Tucker portion of the evening begins with "Fire on the Mountain". Her solo’s remarkable! The band goes into "Heard it in a Love Song" and on Ted’s cue, the crowd chants the chorus. The house rocked to "Can’t you see", still singing along with the finest of musicians. Their talent is impeccable, as individuals, they perform with their own expressions of passion. It is clear that they love what they do and it comes from within.

"Whipping Post"…Ted Riser proudly introduces his friend and special guest, Michael Allman .Also entering the stage is Chris DeSantis on bongo’s. They break into "Soulshine", the crowd goes wild! Throughout the sea of 30-60 something’s, remarks of how much Michael emulates his father.

"…knowing many, loving none, bearing sorrow, having fun, but back home he’ll always run to"…Michael points to the flock in front of the stage and the whole place whales "Sweet Melissa!" "Oh ya, we’re makin’ Papa proud!" shouts Gregg Allman’s first born. The band was hot, guitar player Dave Miller was smokin’ in true Duane Allman fashion..

"Midnight Rider", "One Way Out"- Like, Father, Like Son. Michael Allman brought the house down, ending once again with "Whipping Post". Ted closed the show with the Molly Hatchet version of The Allman Bros. "Dreams".

 

Ted Riser’s Triple Tribute Show is an unprecedented representation of the artistry of three iconic rockers’ of the 1970’s. An exhibition of exceptional talent and always a whole lot of fun!

Ted has been playing for nearly thirty years. He’s a home town favorite and known in several states. He’s written a multitude of songs and has opened for many greats such as 38 Special, David Allen Coe, Blackfoot, Molly Hatchet and Marshall Tucker. Ted tells me that this show is by far the best he’s been involved with. He said, "I’m proud of the whole band, these guys (and girls) are top shelf musicians!"

Ted and Michael Allman met several months ago, near summer’s end. Michael was in town promoting his new CD when he googled "Allman Bros. Tribute Bands". He found Ted Riser and got a hold of him. Ted invited him out to Cabana’s in Mentor for a Tuesday Bike Night. So impressed with Ted and Dave Miller, he asked if he could sit in with them while he was in town. Ted, of course, gladly obliged. Michael told him that his was the best Allman Bros. Tribute he’s heard, and he has never heard anybody come as close to his Uncle Duane’s playing as Dave Miller. While in town, Michael sang with Ted at the Southeast HD Corn Roast and Akron Main St. Saloon. Ted said, "I felt honored he wanted to play with us, I can’t believe how much he sounds like his dad." "We have become good friends and I was happy he was able to play with us this weekend."

Ted and his band are looking forward to the New Year and new adventures. There are some exciting things happening for the band in the near future. Stay tuned to the NorthCoast Voice.