When I’m asked what is my favorite concert, I usually reply seeing Santana at Dillon Stadium back in 1973. I went with my buddy Larry (yes, Larry and Barry) and we were absolutely blown away by the intensity of the music. Carlos Santana is a master guitar player who fuses Afro-Latin music, rock and jazz. He tours with a full rhythm section, horns, and a large percussion section including a drummer and two percussionists, which adds to the incredible sound. When I heard that they were coming to Hartford and headlining with The Allman Brothers Band (more on them later), well I just had to get tickets.
Concert day arrives and it is pouring. We park in the free parking lot and trudge our way over to the venue in the rain. Ugh! It’s hot, humid and rainy. Our seats were in the center section. I am really looking forward to sitting in my seat, 666, the sign of the beast so I could really enjoy “that thar devil music,” but alas that wouldn’t be the case. Some schmuck had pried off the seat number. It seems several schmucks had pried all the 666 seat numbers off! Oh well, we settle in and wait for the music. Footage of Woodstock starts on the video screen and Santana opens with Soul Sacrifice. Go to Youtube and search for the Soul Sacrifice Woodstock 1969 version. Michael Shrieve performs one of the most amazing drum solos. He was twenty years old at the time. Nice! I’m having a great time while being thankful that the forty-year-old stoned hippy is not dancing in front of me. I’m air drumming to the music, but I can get away with it because I actually play the drums. I’m sure most of the air guitar players couldn’t tell the difference between a G-chord and a G-string.
The crowd is on their feet during Jingo. The percussionist, Raoul Rekow is really laying down a heavy groove. I spot a guy wearing a Max Creek tee shirt. Really? We hired that band back in 1973 to play at a house party. Rock on! A real treat was Santana’s wife, Cindy Blackman, a fantastic drummer in her own right, sitting in during Corazon Espinado. She played a drum solo that had the crowd on their feet. There is a great feel and style to her playing; a lot of energy with a great sense of rhythm.
An hour into the set, two rather large women finally find their seats. Are you kidding me? How hard is it to plan your day when you know you have a CONCERT scheduled? They are bumping into everyone in that row. Naturally their seats were on the other side of the row. In addition to not being able to tell time, they had no sense of direction. Hey, down in front! The guy next to me is freaking out because people are standing a few rows down. He stands up to see the show and the people in back of him start yelling. I know I’m showing my age here, but really people, I didn’t spend 125 dollars to watch your jiggly ass shake; I want to see the band!
Anyway, they start to play “Oye Como Va,” another favorite of mine. Up on the video, more footage of Woodstock. I was fifteen, when it happened and I begged my parents to let me go. “No freakin’ way!” was essentially the reply. I had a ride lined up and everything.
Santana segues into “Maria, Maria,” an absolutely gorgeous song, and wouldn’t you know it, those two ladies are at it again! As they are trying to get back to their seats, one of them stumbles and dumps her drink on a guy. “Gee thanks, now I’m really going to enjoy the show sitting in in your beer!”
An hour later, the show is over. These guys were just as good as when I saw them thirty some odd years ago. They brought everything to the stage and delivered an absolutely fantastic show.
I’ve seen the Allman Brothers three times in the past. Once at Dillon Stadium, once at the Boston Garden and again at Watkins Glen. They are a great southern, bluesy, rock, jam band. They too have two drummers and a percussionist. Jai Johanny "Jaimoe" Johanson and Butch Trucks have been playing together since the band’s inception in the late sixties. Mark Quiñones, the percussionist has been with them since the early nineties. I got so inspired I’m starting hand percussion lessons!
The Bros’ take the stage at nine-thirty and open with “One Way Out.” Truly, one of my favorite songs of all time! The crowd starts rocking and the place is jumping. Jaimo and Butch are laying down a heavy double shuffle beat to Statesboro Blues. They are driving this song hard. The guitarists, Derek Trucks, (Butch’s son) and Warren Haynes are wailing and trading jams back and forth. These guys are some of the best guitar players I’ve ever seen! The rhythm section is adding an amazing amount of depth and texture to the music. Otiel Burbridge is working it on the bass. Greg Allman is singing “Done Somebody Wrong” with the same grittiness and growl he had when he was younger, despite having a liver transplant and being married to Cher.
Santana joins the band and they begin to play a nice bluesy, swing beat and slowly break into “All Along the Watchtower.” They segue into a few other songs trading guitar licks and drum solos. All of sudden, the group of people who were sitting in front of us, get up to leave. I was very happy that they left. There was a guy, girl, her mother, and some other assorted people in this group. The guy was practically having sex with this girl while she is sitting next to her mother. Oi Vai!
The set ends and the band leaves the stage. The audience jumps to their feet, hands clapping, and yelling for more. The band is taking a long time to return. They are probably getting a blow of oxygen; remember these guys are not getting any younger. I call “Whipping Post” for their encore and sure enough it is. The band kills it with some absolute genius work on the guitars. See these guys when come around again. I know I will.