CLEARWATER — The Big Band of Brothers touring ensemble — a celebration of the Allman Brothers Band songs done big band jazz style featuring original Allman Brother legend Jaimoe, Sammy Miller & The Congregation, Lamar Williams Jr., and Drew Smithers — will make their Clearwater debut Wednesday, Jan. 26, 8 p.m., at the Bilheimer Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater.
The Big Band of Brothers features original Allman Brother legend Jaimoe, Sammy Miller & The Congregation, Lamar Williams Jr., and Drew Smithers. Tickets start at $54.50. Visit www.rutheckerdhall.com or call 727-791-7400.
While jazz interpretations of Allman Brothers Band classics might come off as a surprise to some, the genre always held great inspiration for the band. Gregg Allman, recalling their early days, said that “Jaimoe (drummer Jai Johanny Johanson) gave us a proper education about jazz and got us into Miles Davis and John Coltrane. ‘Kind of Blue’ was always on the turntable — Duane really got his head around that album — he also seriously dug Coltrane’s ‘My Favorite Things.’”
Warren Haynes, longtime ABB guitarist, said Duane talked a lot about how important Coltrane was in influencing him.
“It’s almost cliché to say that you’ve been influenced by John Coltrane these days because it’s so obvious that he’s an icon,” Haynes said. “But for somebody in the early ’70s to actually take that influence into a rock or pop sensibility was quite a stretch. Perhaps he helped to make Coltrane a universal influence in ways he didn’t even realize …”
Born in Mississippi in 1944, Jaimoe came up, as did so many Southern musicians at the time, playing the soul music circuit. One of his first big breaks — and one of his most treasured recollections — was touring behind the legendary R&B trailblazer Otis Redding.
“I learned so much from Otis,” Jaimoe says now. In 1969, a few years after his experiences with Redding, Jaimoe found himself in Macon, Georgia, where he was introduced to a young hotshot guitarist named Duane Allman by record execs Phil Walden and Jerry Wexler. “I guess they figured that a long-haired hippie and a strange-ass drummer would be good together.”
Along with Duane’s younger brother Gregg on keyboards, second guitarist Dickey Betts and an exceptional rhythm section that included bassist Berry Oakley and Jaimoe’s 40-plus-year drum partner Butch Trucks, the Allman Brothers was soon on its way to immortality. The Allman’s place in rock history is set in stone, earning the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 55th annual Grammy Awards in 2012.
Sammy Miller and The Congregation are a seven-piece band on a mission, crisscrossing the country like a revival show with evangelic fervor for music. Led by Juilliard trained and Grammy-nominated drummer Sammy Miller and his seven-piece group is a community of adventurous and charismatic elite musicians who are conservatory-trained, but who have not lost their childlike wonder and awe for playing music. Since the band’s inception, the Congregation has played nonstop all over the world including Lincoln Center, The White House and the Newport Jazz Festival. While independently the band members have performed and recorded with notable artists including Lady Gaga, Wynton Marsalis, Lizzo, Jason Mraz and Beyoncé, they have opted to stick together to spread joy and build community.
Lamar Williams Jr., born in Macon, Georgia, to Lamar Williams — bassist of The Allman Brothers Band — has collaborated with The Allman Brothers Band, Oteil and Friends, and is currently the lead singer of The New Mastersounds.
Drew Smithers is the lead guitarist/backing vocals for the band Bishop Gunn of Natchez, Mississippi. They released their debut album in 2018 and the band was included in Rolling Stone magazine’s 10 New Country Artists You Need to Know.