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February 22, 2011

Gregg Allman Sings 'Low Country Blues'

Until the release of “Low Country Blues,” singer and guitarist Gregg Allman had not been in a recording studio since 2003, when his band, The Allman Brothers, recorded “Hittin’ The Note.” His last solo album was 1977’s “Searching for Simplicity.

What finally got Gregg Allman to re-enter the recording studio? All it took was some gentle nudging from 10-time Grammy winning producer T. Bone Burnett. The pair bonded over mutual friends and a shared love of obscure old blues songs.

In a recent interview, Gregg Allman said Burnett sent him 20 songs to listen to. Burnett wanted Gregg to give them a new lease on life, getting the songs out in front of a brand new audience.  The CD opens with a dark take on Sleepy John Estes’ “Floating Bridge.”

“Floating Bridge” was written and originally performed by Tennessee based blues man Sleepy John Estes, who began his recording career in 1929. Gregg Allman has revived the song on his new CD.  But that is not the only blues style Gregg performs on this record. The 1950s rhythm and blues big band sound is here, too. There’s a good cover of “Blind Man,” which you might know from the versions by Bobby “Blue” Bland or Little Milton.

Like many of his favorite bluesmen, Gregg Allman has led a life filled with the highest highs and the lowest lows. The production of this album also wasn’t without drama. The CD’s release was pushed back when Gregg, who had long battled the liver disease chronic Hepatitis C, learned he was a candidate for a liver transplant. In June 2010, the difficult surgery was performed.

The start of 2011 finds the longtime touring musician gathering his strength, and his musical chops, for another tour. And when he hits the road, “Low Country Blues’” lone original track, “Just Another Rider,” will most likely be a part of his setlist. Co-written with longtime Allman Brothers Band guitarist Warren Haynes, the song is a great showcase for Gregg Allman’s voice, and longtime friend Dr. John’s piano.