With the fortunes of the Allman Brothers Band on the wane, four former members have formed the core of a new sextet that visited the Wax Museum last night. They don't have a band name yet, but soon they'll need one, for if last night's show is any indication they'll have a record contract before long. They stripped away all the nonsense and excess of recent Southern-rock and returned to the rhythm & blues and country roots that once made this regional music so exciting.
Two of the founding Allmans--guitarist Dickie Betts and drummer Butch Trucks--were joined by two later Allmans--keyboardist Chuck Leavell and bassist David Goldflies. Former Wet Willie leader Jimmy Hall added strong Southern soul vocals and R&B horn parts. Fiddler Danny Parks underscored the group's country influences. Betts, Trucks and Leavell are all virtuoso players with legitimate jazz skills who slipped subtle touches into the boogie-woogie music. They played a few Allman oldies but, for the most part, it was new songs by Betts, Hall and Leavell. In Hall's words, it was "barbecue music;" greasy and tasty.
Bob Margolin, who opened the show, has loads of talent but little idea of how to channel it. Having spent seven years in the Muddy Waters Band, Margolin should be a driving rhythm guitarist and a flashy soloist, and he was. He missed Waters' discipline, however, as he overplayed every song with his trio. He also relied on rock standards such as "Johnny B. Goode" and "Not Fade Away," which have been done to death and whose originals are impossible to improve on. --Geoffrey Himes