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Gregg Allman: Helped Carter get elected; likes jamming with Bruce Willis’ harmonica

Gregg Allman is an icon of the South, and I’m a Southern expatriate. So my Q&A with him jumps right to the heart of our geographic heritage, as he gets ready to perform Saturday night in the Palms’ Pearl theater.

Elfman: “I like plenty about the South. But I faced some discrimination, and so did my best friends. So I don’t really miss the South from here in crazy Vegas. Do you have any thoughts about the South generally in terms of how it has appeared in fiction, movies, TV, music, video games, or the media?”

Allman, 66: “I’m a Southern boy, and except for some time in California, I’ve lived in the South my whole life. I’ve been in Savannah for about 15 years now, and I love it, never gonna leave, man.

“As far as the South is depicted, let me say this. There are good people and bad people in every part of this country. Doesn’t matter where you go, you’re gonna find people you like and people you can’t stand.

“Now, I know all about discrimination in the South. We faced it a lot back in the early days of the Allman Brothers. A bunch of long-hairs running around with a black guy?

“Sure, we ran into trouble with some of those redneck boys, but we also met really beautiful people who embraced us and our music, so it cuts both ways, man, but I’m happy” in the South.

Elfman: “Do you know who the most famous fan of yours is? I mean, over the years, lots of celebrities have been fans of yours. Can you tell me a story about meeting any one of them and how deep their knowledge was of your music?”

Allman: “Well, there are many famous people who are fans. One was even president of the United States, Mr. Jimmy Carter! The Allman Brothers helped to get him elected, you know.

“Back in the ’70s, we also became friends with Don Johnson, before he hit it big with ‘Miami Vice.’ Don later sang on one of my solo records. He’s got a nice voice.

“Bruce Willis is a big fan, and he plays a pretty fair harmonica. He has sat in with us before at the Beacon Theatre (in New York). So has Bernie Williams, the former ball player for the Yankees. That man is a helluva guitar player!”

Elfman: “How’s everything going?”

Allman: “Things are fine, just fine, man. I just got back from playing Mountain Jam (in upstate New York) with the Allman Brothers. It was a killer show, and the weather was warm, thank God! Last time we were there, it was about 35 degrees at show time, and it was just too damn cold, man!”

Elfman: “You’re playing at the Palms. What can fans expect this time around?”

Allman: “The show will be a real nice mix of songs from my solo albums, a few cover tunes, and some Allman Brothers songs, a few of which I’ve re-arranged to better suit my band.

“We recently added some horn players, and I love the sound we have now. The fans are going to have a good time, kick-ass night; that I’ll promise you!”

Elfman: “Do you have a favorite Vegas memory you can share?”

Allman: “Oh man, c’mon now! What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. You know better to ask me that! I’ve had great times in Las Vegas. Even got married there once.”

Elfman: “What are your next plans, solo or in a band?”

Allman: “My solo band has a killer DVD coming out next year from a show we did down in Macon, (Ga.), and I was so proud of how we shook it up that night. So I’m gonna hit the road hard and heavy with them, and see where we can take things — especially now that we added the horns.

“I’ve also been thinking about something else for a long, long time, and I’d love to make it happen. The plan is to cut a record strictly of my songs. I want the credits to read, ‘All compositions by Gregory L. Allman.’ That’s my goal, brother.”

See how nice Gregg Allman is? He’s always been like this with me, a gem of the South.

Doug Elfman’s column appears on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Email him at delfman@reviewjournal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/entertainment/reel.

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