Allman Brothers Band - American University 12-13-70 (2LP)
Release date 07.26.2019
The fall of 1970 I started college at American University in Washington, D.C. Thoughts of Kent State and the post-Woodstock rock festivals were fresh in my mind including one that didn't happen, Powder Ridge. With September came lots of new opportunities to experience music presented in different settings than what I was used to in New York. I remember the Berlin Airlift, an all-day festival at the dreary RFK Stadium, then home to the departing Washington Senators baseball team. Detroit's Grand Funk Railroad headlined with West Coast favorites, Pacific Gas & Electric, and the (unknown to me) Allman Brothers Band.
I had heard them occasionally on the underground only rock voice WHFS. Cerphe, the voice of hippiedom, was "broadcasting, High...atop the Triangle Towers Building" in Bethesda, Maryland. Blasting into the night he introduced the strains of new songs, "Dreams," "Whipping Post," and "Black Hearted Woman." The music was mesmerizing! No one had heard of these guys, but I knew I had to see them.
The Sunday show was an epiphany for me. The Allman Brothers Band came up on stage and nonchalantly just blew the place down. I had to leave in the middle of the Grand Funk set that followed. The Allman Brothers Band managed to pull off an astounding set with no posturing noise, without any pretty boys or grandiose gestures. It was simply the amazing interplay between two lead guitars, two drummers, and a bass player who thought he was playing guitar and the soulful wails of the organ and organist. I had found my musical cause and proceeded to spread the word.
I joined the University's Concert Committee ostensibly to have a voice in the selection of the bands that would play on the campus. They had all been lame up to that point. I was also half-nurturing the idea of finding an entree into the business of music. What could be better than getting paid to listen to records and go to shows? The university's only indoor concert venue was the old 1000 seat Leonard Gym, a World War II semi-temporary building the size of a large basketball court with a small stage at one end. Contrary to the current student activities policy, the reigning concert chairmen had the idea to stage shows that charged an admission. Because the place was so small the outside promoter who was co-sponsoring the show could not afford big name talent, and the list of available acts for December dates was slim.
The concert committee was polled and I went crazy when the Allman Brothers Band was suggested. We had to have them! In fact, they would be coming directly from a two-night stand at the Fillmore East. What more credibility could we need? As Cerphe continued to play the Brothers on late-night radio, adding the Brothers' new single "Revival," to the mix, I was able to convince everyone that this was the hippest thing we could do. The Allman Brothers Band rolled into town that Sunday. That afternoon I loaded Duane, Berry, Red Dog and a few others into my '67 Impala for a late lunch safari to Roy Rogers for burgers. Duane asked, "Do they let hippies eat here?" As strange as the question seemed, I assured him that we ate there all the time while tripping and that it was cool. I spent the afternoon helping that now-legendary road crew load in and set up, with breaks for smokes in their Winnebago.
Unfortunately, the rest of the student body did not match the love the small group of us had for this cutting edge music that was happening around us. That night the Brothers played two blistering shows to half-full houses. Many fans stayed on for the second show. I remember that local guitar sensation Nils Lofgren was in the audience, as well as the voice of DC radio and former American U student, Cerphe. To this day many of my friends regret that they could not afford the $3.25 ticket. To my recollection this show was electrifying and so overpowering that the stadium show paled by comparison. By the end of the night I knew I had to see them again. I even entertained fantasies of getting some kind of employment with this mystical band of Southerners, maybe as Red Dog's assistant. I would do anything just so I could hear this special band and their music every day!
Bert Holman April, 2001
Manager, The Allman Brothers Band
American University Class of '74
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