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Old 02-10-2015, 04:40 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Genre Crisis - The Allman Brothers Dilemma / Southern Influence in Music

So apparently I'm having a bit of a genre crisis.
From the Blues Recommendations thread:
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Originally Posted by EPOCH6 View Post
Having a hard time finding what I'm looking for lately.

I've been questing for some southern country / delta blues, preferably multi-instrumental (slide / steel guitar, banjo, harmonica, mandolin, accordion, upright bass etc) and extra swampy but I'm looking for albums with decent studio production, which understandably excludes a lot of great **** from the 20s - 50s, but I'm looking for thick multi-layered blues with confident and ambitious instrumental backing, the kind of stuff that I'd imagine played significant role in influencing bands like The Allman Brothers.

Try to keep it acoustic, keep it busy, keep it twangy, big jams, no generic bare naked 12-bars.
Huge bonus points for slide guitar and banjo, bonus points for harmonicas, bonus points for open tunings, bonus points for instrumentals.
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Originally Posted by Blarobbarg View Post
It sounds to me that what you're really looking for is bluegrass.
Over the last half a year or so I've really been sinking my teeth into southern styles of music, whether that means southern rock (The Allman Brothers, Skynyrd etc), desert rock & stoner metal (Kyuss, Soundgarden etc), alternative country (16 Horsepower, Wovenhand etc), delta blues (Skip James, Muddy Waters etc), and whatever else. It has really started leaking into my playing style and my songwriting and I'm hungry for more but I've been having a hell of a time finding the musical inspiration I'm really looking for.

The Allman Brother's music really seems to be the undisputed culmination of these genres (of course excluding the styles that came later, desert rock / stoner metal and so on). When all of the influence from each of these styles, delta blues, electric blues, country, bluegrass, folk, and early rock and roll seeped its way into the right group of musicians we ended up with absolutely colossal masterpieces like Jessica, Whipping Post, In Memory of Elizabeth Reed, and a landslide of other lengthy and complex multi-instrumental jams that have pretty much remained unparalleled for decades (as far as I know).

And now I'm all torn up over not being able to find more of this. There has to be similar groups out there that either directly influenced The Allman Brothers or were directly influenced by The Allman Brothers, groups that don't fall outside of that mixed fusion style. I've sifted through so much but it's always too blues or too country or too folk or too rock or too metal, The Allman Brothers seem to occupy this perfect sweet spot right in the middle of it all that nobody else has conquered.

TL;DR:
Basically I'm looking for ambitious and genuinely talented multi-instrumental music, preferably acoustic, that effectively incorporates elements from blues, country, and bluegrass, without evolving into pure rock and roll. Bands that experiment and push these styles together and forward, bands where every member and instrument is bringing something crucial to the table, no backup bands passively holding a solid 12-bar while a prodigy noodles above them (ex: Stevie Ray Vaughan).


I realize it's frowned upon to ask directly for recommendations outside of dedicated recommendation threads, but I've had no luck inside of them, it's hard to find fusions of genres in genre specific threads. I'm hoping this thread can become more than me begging for music and move more towards finding out how we ended up with incredible groups like The Allman Brothers and investigating Southern influence in the development of other more complex fusion genres. Perhaps the easiest way to get this going would be to start listing groups that were clearly born out of the fusion of country, blues, bluegrass, and rock.
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There's 3 reason why the Rolling Stones are better. I'm going to list them here. 1. Jimi Hendrix from Rolling Stones was a better guitarist then Jimmy Page 2. The bassist from Rolling Stones isn't dead 3. Rolling Stobes wrote Stairway to Heaven and The Ocean so we all know they are superior here.
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Old 02-10-2015, 05:19 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Lisnaholic's favourite group is the Allman Brothers, and he basically runs the "Country, Folk, and World" section, so he might know of some similar bands. I'm afraid all I've got from the genre is CCR, and you're already a fan.
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Old 02-10-2015, 05:46 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I think the closest example I've come across thus far is The Band.

They're very multi-instrumental, they're reasonably ambitious songwriters (although still quite poppy most of the time), every member of the group is immensely talented, they're not afraid to meander off into occasional jams or extended solos, and they very skillfully transcend genre boundaries while still comfortably wearing their influences on their sleeve.

I'd love to find a similar group that makes use of primarily acoustic instruments.

EDIT: I'm starting to think Americana might be the most useful term to focus on when searching for bands that fit the bill, but I'm also worried that the word Americana has been thrown around so much since the 70's that it'll be impossible to sift through.
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There's 3 reason why the Rolling Stones are better. I'm going to list them here. 1. Jimi Hendrix from Rolling Stones was a better guitarist then Jimmy Page 2. The bassist from Rolling Stones isn't dead 3. Rolling Stobes wrote Stairway to Heaven and The Ocean so we all know they are superior here.

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Old 02-10-2015, 07:11 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Have you ever given Canned Heat a whirl?

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Old 02-11-2015, 11:07 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Hey, thanks for the mention, Pet_Sounds ! Yes, the Allman Brothers are my favourite band, so I read the OP here with great interest.

In fact, Epoch6, I´ve been in just the same place that you seem to be in; over-familiar with all things Allman and looking for something new that equals their brilliant extended jamming. Unless you´re luckier than me though, you have to be ready for disappointment; I have certainly never found anyone who is as all-round good as the Allmans. I imagine that you´ve already checked out the Allman spin-off bands, such as Gov´t Mule and Derek Trucks, but perhaps some of these leads might interest you:-

East-West by Paul Buttersfield Blues Band (1966): unfortunately, afaik, they only recorded the one extended instrumental, but listening to it you might wonder if the Allmans didn´t use it as a model:-



Boz Scaggs self-titled album (1969): kind of southern/Americana featuring Duane Allman on one track. I dismissed this album years ago, but thanks to rostasi, I´ve grown to like it. No instrumental tracks though, I´m afraid.
Duane Allman also turns up on another 1969 album, Two Jews Blues by Barry Goldberg (on the track, Twice a Man). This album has the blues-focused failings that you mentioned with SRV though. More interesting perhaps is the material in the recently-issued Clapton package called Layla Sessions. Jams# 4 and #5 are about 18 mins long each; great instrumental workouts brought to life by Duane´s searing slide guitar.

Jumping rather abruptly from old albums to current performers, your post made me think of these two bands:-
String Cheese Incident can be, ironically, a bit cheesy, but sometimes they come close to what I suspect we are both looking for:-



And with Railroad Earth , Bluegrass turns into Newgrass. Occassionally their instrumentals interludes take flight, but never quite long enough or high enough, imo:-



I wonder if this is the kind of music you have in mind, Epoch6 ? If we can find some new artists between us I would be really happy !
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Last edited by Lisnaholic; 02-11-2015 at 11:20 PM.
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Old 02-12-2015, 02:00 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks a lot for jumping in on this Lisna.

That Butterfield Blues Band track was absolutely amazing and is a great example of the kind of stuff I'm trying to track down. Unfortunately the rest of the album seems pretty standard but still, that particular track demonstrates a huge part of what I'm looking for, ambitious multi-layered musicianship pulling influence from many southern styles. I think that's a great start to the thread for sure.

Funny you bring up these Duane Allman collaborations, I spent several hours today driving around listening to Duane Allman: An Anthology Vol. I & II hoping I'd come across something. If you haven't listened to these compilations yourself you must, as a full set it's basically 40 tracks of Duane Allman collaborating with other musicians. There are a few exceptional stand out tracks, for example his instrumental cover of The Band's The Weight with saxophone legend King Curtis, his cover of Steppenwolf's Born to Be Wild with Wilson Pickett, the massive instrumental Push Push with flute legend Herbie Mann, or the droning swampy track Goin' Upstairs with Sam Samudio. But all of that being said, besides being a great compilation for Duane Allman fans, there was nothing genuinely mindblowing to be heard.

That String Cheese Incident performance was cool, great musicianship all around, some nice interesting moments, but not quite the full package we're seeking. The vocals are obviously the weakest link, missing the passion we could easily find from other groups. Same deal with Railroad Earth. The thing about these bands is that they're obviously full of great musicians, the playing talent is undeniable, it's just the songwriting that is lacking, there's nothing genuinely compelling about it, no blood, no sweat, just a handful of really well trained musicians hammering out meandering solos with little to say.

But anyway I'm quite confident you understand what I'm looking for, East-West was a total win, I'll be holding onto that track for a long time. All of your other examples are on the right track, just not quite the full package. I'll keep you posted on anything I find, I'm hoping you do the same. This thread will be here for anything worth sharing.
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There's 3 reason why the Rolling Stones are better. I'm going to list them here. 1. Jimi Hendrix from Rolling Stones was a better guitarist then Jimmy Page 2. The bassist from Rolling Stones isn't dead 3. Rolling Stobes wrote Stairway to Heaven and The Ocean so we all know they are superior here.
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Old 02-12-2015, 10:06 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EPOCH6 View Post
Funny you bring up these Duane Allman collaborations, I spent several hours today driving around listening to Duane Allman: An Anthology Vol. I & II hoping I'd come across something. If you haven't listened to these compilations yourself you must, as a full set it's basically 40 tracks of Duane Allman collaborating with other musicians. There are a few exceptional stand out tracks, for example his instrumental cover of The Band's The Weight with saxophone legend King Curtis, his cover of Steppenwolf's Born to Be Wild with Wilson Pickett, the massive instrumental Push Push with flute legend Herbie Mann, or the droning swampy track Goin' Upstairs with Sam Samudio. But all of that being said, besides being a great compilation for Duane Allman fans, there was nothing genuinely mindblowing to be heard.
^ Haha! Been there, done that, Epoch6! I also came to about the same conclusion too; decent music, but disappointing, unadventurous in terms of structure and length. I think the best thing the Duane anthologies led me to was some Delaney and Bonnie material; there is quite a decent jam on YouTube called Only You Know and I Know, which includes a great solo from King Curtis.
Yes, you´re right; East-West is exceptionally good, and it´s frustrating that they never explored that long instrumental format again. Of course The Grateful Dead were jam pioneers too. - I imagine you already know the legendary Dark Star, but here, anyway, is the most popular version of it. Nice guitar, while the best that can be said about the lyrics is that they don´t last long :-




Quote:
That String Cheese Incident performance was cool, great musicianship all around, some nice interesting moments, but not quite the full package we're seeking. The vocals are obviously the weakest link, missing the passion we could easily find from other groups. Same deal with Railroad Earth. The thing about these bands is that they're obviously full of great musicians, the playing talent is undeniable, it's just the songwriting that is lacking, there's nothing genuinely compelling about it, no blood, no sweat, just a handful of really well trained musicians hammering out meandering solos with little to say.

But anyway I'm quite confident you understand what I'm looking for, East-West was a total win, I'll be holding onto that track for a long time. All of your other examples are on the right track, just not quite the full package. I'll keep you posted on anything I find, I'm hoping you do the same. This thread will be here for anything worth sharing.
^ Agree, agree, agree ! I didn´t want to be too harsh on some obviously dedicated musicians, but you have explained very neatly how they just don´t reach the same intensity that the Allmans could achieve on so many songs.
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Old 02-12-2015, 10:16 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EPOCH6 View Post
Basically I'm looking for ambitious and genuinely talented multi-instrumental music, preferably acoustic, that effectively incorporates elements from blues, country, and bluegrass, without evolving into pure rock and roll. Bands that experiment and push these styles together and forward, bands where every member and instrument is bringing something crucial to the table, no backup bands passively holding a solid 12-bar while a prodigy noodles above them (ex: Stevie Ray Vaughan).
How about this?
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Old 02-25-2015, 02:03 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Keep forgetting to come back to this thread.

That Grizzly Bear album was certainly interesting, very strange collision of so many styles, but too many to really fit the bill for what I'm looking for. That being said, it'll certainly remain in my library for future listening, I definitely enjoyed it regardless. It's much more ambitious than the sort of ambition I'm looking for. The incorporation of wooshy atmospheric sound design and cinematic synthscapes pushed that album far outside of the realm of rootsy organic southern music. I'm looking for ambition without the incorporation of purely electronic instruments, no synths, ambition to get the most out of traditional blues / country / bluegrass / rock instruments.

Over the last week the closest I've come to my target is The Doobie Brother's album Stampede.



While it's still The Doobie Brother's massive classic arena rock sound here, this album seems to draw far more influence from southern styles than some of their more funky / groovy work. Neal's Fandango is a massive country-rock epic and throughout the album are a handful of brilliant multi-acoustic textures.
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Old 02-25-2015, 02:18 PM   #10 (permalink)
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As far as being "Southern" sounding, there are some bands around these days with that vibe, though I don't know of any offhand who fit the acoustic bill you're looking for.

White Denim is fairly close to a "Southern rock" band, though they do mix in a bit of psychedelia and other stuff. But they're definitely not acoustic.



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