I just finished reading One Way Out, a biography of the Allman Brothers Band. It was a good read about a band that I’ve seen a few times and admired for a long time. Why is this relevant? Well, without intending to do so, I saw a ton of former ABB members playing all over the place during 2016. I saw Jaimo’s jazz/blues band, which was really good, at the Sands in Bethlehem; Derek Trucks with his family band, Tedeschi Trucks, at the Ryman in Nashville; Gregg Allman and his band, who bring a whole new take on classic ABB songs, and also in Bethlehem; Warren Haynes with his “side” band, Gov’t Mule in Baltimore; and finally, during the last week of December, Butch Trucks and the Freight Train at the Funky Biscuit in Boca Raton. Five shows and not one in Philly!
Butch Trucks is a founding member of the ABB, and one of its two drummers. I wasn’t quite sure what we would see when checking out the Freight Train, but was pleasantly surprised. It was a straight on blues-based rock show featuring lots of ABB tunes. And this time, while they played songs like Statesboro Blues and Dreams, it wasn’t limited to those tunes penned by Gregg Allman or non-ABB members. Yes, this band actually paid respect to Dickey Betts by playing an extended and amazing version of Jessica, one of rock’s quintessential instrumentals (as Butch said at the end of the 15 minute or so version, “that was pretty f*ckin’ great”). It’s particularly cool because Butch and Dickey had a very bad split back in the day. But there is no denying that Dickey’s songwriting and guitar playing are a huge part of the ABB success story.
Butch can still play the hell out of the drums. I mean, he plays like he is in his 20s. And he had a good band with him, featuring a keyboardist/organist, three guitarists (all of whom could sing well), bass, and another percussion guy. Butch’s daughter came up and sang Statesboro Blues. It was a crowded stage, but the band was good and seemed to be having fun with each other.
There was one bad song – a Dylan cover. I can’t remember the name of the song, but the reason that it was particularly bad was that it was sung by Butch. He started the song by saying that it didn’t really matter because Dylan couldn’t sing. True, but Butch, even Dylan is a few rungs up the ladder from you, my friend. Yes, it was that bad: dogs could be heard howling in the alley behind the club, just begging to be put out of their misery.
Butch also went off on a “story” which made me fear that, like Dick Dale, this guy is beginning to lose his mind. There was no point to the story except that Butch met John Lennon, Phil Spector (who he hated) and then got to hang out with Joni Mitchell. Whoop de damn doo. You would think that at this point in his career that Butch would be over having to validate himself by name dropping. But you would be wrong.
All in all, it was a decent enough show. Would I recommend it? For hard-core ABB fans, sure. For those who love the blues, sure. For those who hate jam bands, nope. But we had a good time and enjoyed the evening.
What about the club? It’s located in a very upscale shopping area of Boca, which is already an upscale place. Attributes are that it’s small, has good acoustics and sight lines, and there was free parking. The crowd seemed cool, too, including the 50 something woman who danced as bad as Butch sung. But the Biscuit also serves food and has tables. Where there weren’t tables, areas that most humans would call “aisles,” these are “general admission” areas where a lot of people were crammed. The combination was bad – is it trying to be a supper club or a rock club? Oh, and it’s located in SoFla, so some damn a/c or at least ceiling fans would be helpful when you are stuffing it to the gills with people. One more thing that bothers me: no security pat down. It’s unfortunate that this is necessary, but damn, Paris and Orlando would seem to be enough to warrant something more than collecting money and checking i.d.’s.
OK, I feel better now. Check out these photos for a look at some of the action. I’ll be back with plenty more very soon, so put the billyrocksphilly.com link into your “favorites” list and keep hitting that link. It will be worth the effort! See you soon, rock mobsters.
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.