Ask Gregg Allman his thoughts about his upcoming tribute concert at the Fox Theatre and he’s humbled to the point of being nearly silent.
How does he feel about being celebrated by a lineup that includes Vince Gill, Dr. John, Jackson Browne, Natalie Cole, John Hiatt, Chuck Leavell and the Allman Brothers Band?
“Quite honored,” he said quietly in a recent phone interview.
Did he have any input into the performers who will commemorate his musical legacy?
“No, no input at all.”
OK, then how did this idea come about?
“My manager approached me about it, and I said, ‘Don’t they do that for people who have already passed away?’ I didn’t know exactly what to say,” Allman noted, still at a bit of a loss for words a few days after the show was announced.
Obviously, though, he said yes. And good thing, since the Jan. 10 all-star concert — officially called All My Friends: Celebrating the Songs and Voice of Gregg Allman — sold out almost instantly, even with a top ticket price of $225.
The show, which will be filmed by AXS TV to air in May, is being produced by Keith Wortman, whose resume includes executive producing the TV movies “Love for Levon: A Benefit to Save the Barn,” about the Band’s Levon Helm, and “We Walk the Line: A Celebration of the Music of Johnny Cash.”
While Allman, 66, wasn’t involved in the creation of the event, he is pleased that old friend Don Was will serve as musical director.
The night will surely involve coordinating the musical chess pieces of the aforementioned artists as well as Trace Adkins, Eric Church, Warren Haynes, Taj Mahal, Brantley Gilbert, Martina McBride, Pat Monahan, Sam Moore, Robert Randolph, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Widespread Panic and any surprise additions to the roster.
“I’ve worked with Don many times,” Allman said. “Any time he’s throwing any kind of party or gathering of musicians, he always calls and invites me.”
Considering that the lineup is heavy on country artists and those with a predilection for jamming, Cole’s name stands out as an anomaly.
Although the pair has worked on campaigns with the American Liver Foundation to educate the public about living with hepatitis C, Allman said he knows Cole better through musical channels rather than health-related ones.
“She’s a sweet girl. I’ve known her about 20 years. She’s come to (the Allman Brothers’ annual concerts) at the Beacon (Theatre) and sat in with us. She likes to sing the blues,” Allman said.
Despite downplaying the musically historical significance of the show, Allman became animated when articulating his thoughts about the concert’s location.
“We played the Fox a couple of times over the years to keep it from getting torn down,” he said. “You know, people rise up in Atlanta. People love that place and they should. It’s so perfectly tuned. It’s a magical place.”
While there are still a few days until Allman has to concern himself with rehearsals for his night of honor, the flaxen-haired Southern rock icon is hardly sitting idle.
His plans last month were expected to include a trip to Los Angeles to work on another blues album with T Bone Burnett, who produced his 2011 Grammy-nominated “Low Country Blues.”
Allman is also in the process of vetting the script for a biopic being made about his life.
Tyson Ritter, lead singer of the All-American Rejects, was recently announced as the star of “Midnight Rider: The Gregg Allman Story,” which begins filming in Savannah in February.
Ritter is currently playing a rock star in an extended storyline on NBC’s “Parenthood” and possesses Allman’s one requirement of his on-screen counterpart: “He needs to know how to sing and play.”
Actor Wyatt Russell (“The Walking Dead,” “22 Jump Street”) will portray Allman’s brother Duane.
As executive producer, Allman has final approval of everything in the film.
“I’m just concerned that I want it to be right,” he said. “I don’t want people walking out of the theater thinking, ‘What a weenie this guy is.’”
That will be an unlikely sentiment come Jan. 10.
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