Tuesday, December 6, 2016

"Midnight Blues"

Shortly after the Allman Brothers reunited in 1990 they were invited to MTV's all acoustic Unplugged program. An acoustic show might seem unremarkable today, but after a decade dominated by electronic synthesizers and hair bands' guitar amplifier's gain turned to 11, the idea of an all-acoustic show was refreshing, if not revolutionary. The show felt impromptu (in the case of the Joe Walsh and Dr. John pairing, it actually was) but the Allman Brothers took it as seriously as their reunion. This was a chance to show a nationally televised audience that they weren't a dinosaur band. It was also an opportunity to show casual fans that they weren't just a guitar band that jammed for hours.

They performed lovely versions of acoustic-based classics Gregg Allman's "Midnight Rider" and "Melissa", and introduced their latest album's title track, Dickey Betts' "Seven Turns". But they also dusted off some old blues songs, Robert Johnson's "Come On Into My Kitchen" and the traditional "Going Down That Road Feeling Bad". The performance was so successful that they added an acoustic set to the middle of their live shows for the next few years.

Blind Willie McTell
One of the songs Dickey Betts brought to the band for their expanded touring acoustic set was an old Blind Willie McTell song, "Blues 'Round Midnight". The story goes that he had remembered it wrong, to the point it was almost a completely different tune. Enter "Midnight Blues" which appeared on the Allman Brothers' next live album, An Evening With.

I recorded most of this song last Summer. I wanted to put a sax solo on it, but my sax chops have a ways to go to catch up to my 13 year-old self. The cigar box guitar fits in enough, I didn't want to over stuff the song.

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