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Allman Brothers Band Gets Back The Beacon And Gets An Apology Too November 26, 2010

Posted by David W. King in Blues.
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NEW YORK On Monday the Allman Brothers Band announced that it would return to its homestead at the Beacon Theater after a one-year absence, at a news conference where Gregg Allman and his bandmates received a surprising apology from executives at MSG Entertainment, which runs the theater.

Speaking from the stage of the Beacon James L. Dolan, the chairman of Madison Square Garden, said: “I told Gregg before, our apologies for last year. That won’t happen again.”

Over a 20-year span that ended in 2009, the Allman Brothers Band played some 190 shows at the Beacon, more than any other act, returning annually in March for month long residencies that made the band synonymous with the theater.

But earlier this year the band lost its traditional booking to a Cirque du Soleil show, “Banana Shpeel,” and had to hold its 2010 residency at the United Palace Theater. Meanwhile, “Banana Shpeel” delayed its official opening until May, and then closed quickly after receiving poor reviews.

Jay Marciano, the president of MSG Entertainment, acknowledged at the news conference that that booking arrangement had been a mistake.

“Earlier this year we undertook a programming experiment with our friends from Cirque du Soleil,” Mr. Marciano said. “We all know how that little experiment turned out. My dad used to say, ‘Son, it takes a big man to admit when you’re wrong.’ So to our friends in the Allman Brothers, we’re wrong. We apologize and we’re thrilled that you’ll be back again with us this spring at the Beacon Theater.”

MSG Entertainment said in a news release that the Allman Brothers Band is scheduled to perform eight shows at the Beacon next year, from March 10 through 12, 14 and 15, and 17 through 19. Tickets will go on sale Dec. 4.

At the news conference Mr. Allman and his drummers, Butch Trucks and Jaimoe, watched with quiet satisfaction as Mr. Dolan heaped praise on the Allman band’s 1971 live album “At Fillmore East.”

“If I was stranded on a desert island and there was only one piece of music that I could have, that would be it,” Mr Dolan said. “That album, when I was I think about 17, 16 years old, basically shook my soul. I had never heard anything like that before.”

He added: “I think I can hum those solos straight through. I’m not going to do it for you now.”

When it was time for him and his band mates to step to the podium, Mr. Allman began: “Apology totally accepted.”

Speaking of his band’s brief stint at the United Palace in Washington Heights, Mr. Allman said, “Last March was a glamorous place and all that, but the location of it was – well, we won’t go into that.” He added: “Somebody told me it cost more – the cab ride cost more than the ticket.”

Mr. Trucks said simply: “Something went wrong. They didn’t come.”

In an interview after the news conference Mr. Allman said he had no hard feelings against MSG executives or against Cirque du Soleil (whom he said he’d seen perform in Las Vegas and San Francisco, and whose show he described as “better than Disneyworld.”)

“It kind of got us a little riled up at the time,” Mr. Allman said of losing out on the Beacon this year. “It was just untimely. If it had been anybody that moved in on our turf – this is our haven.”

Mr. Allman, 62, looked trim in a black T-shirt that showed off the tattoos along his arms, and said his recovery from a liver transplant in June was going smoothly.

That said, Mr. Allman added: “It was the most painful thing I’ve ever been through in my life. They have this thing that they use to spread out your rib cage – it’s like building a ship in a bottle.”

He said he had been assured by MSG that his band will have the Beacon Theater not only next March but also for many years to come.

“We got this place as long as we can do it, I guess,” Mr. Allman said. “I’ll do it till I can’t get on and off the stage.”

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