Atlanta’s TRIBUTE are authentic sounding re-creators of the classic Allman Brothers Band live experience. The 8-piece band of seasoned musicians formed in 2013 through a mutual appreciation of The ABB and have been rocking audiences all over the region since. Duane and Gregg may not be with us anymore, but their unforgettable songs live on.
“We try to keep it authentic without keeping 100% note-for-note,” said Rod Gunther, TRIBUTE’s guitarist. “And as you can see, we are definitely not the costume-y type tribute band. We have our own look, but we try to hit all the points that really connect with people.”Get Savannah arts and culture news delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our morning, afternoon and food newsletters
Like the original band, TRIBUTE pride themselves in not only faithfully reproducing the hits, but improvising and jamming out, as well. Depending on the venue and their audience, TRIBUTE like to show off their chops and flesh out the tunes a bit. “When we can, we like to stretch things out,” said Gunther. “We have several versions of many songs...one can go for eight minutes, one can go for twenty minutes.”
Another aspect of the TRIBUTE’s faithful performances is the use of vintage gear similar to what Dickey Betts and the brothers used. The guitarists only play Gibson Les Pauls and updated versions of the amplifiers Betts and Allman used in the ‘60s and ‘70s. That attention to detail carries over to the rhythm section, as well.
“Having two drummers and a percussionist is a real commitment to having the right sound,” explained Gunther. “You can certainly play it with one drummer, but it wouldn’t sound quite the same.”
Gunther continued, “The biggest piece of gear we carry around is the Hammond B3 organ and Leslie which is what Gregg [Allman] always used. It’s a beast. It weighs about 250 pounds, 300 with the road case, and we need to have a truck to get it there...People love seeing that big ‘ole Hammond organ up there and it looks great and sounds great.”
Being a tribute band to one of the most beloved Southern rock groups in history can mean having tough audiences, but TRIBUTE received the ultimate validation from one of the original members of the band.
“Probably the biggest meeting and biggest thrill this band has ever had was Jaimoe [Jai Johanny] the original drummer, came into one of our shows in Atlanta once with a bunch of the folks from his current band and actually sat in and played two songs with us,” recounted Gunther. “That was a major career highlight for us.”
“We knew he was in town and joked, ‘Maybe Jaimoe will stop by.’ In the middle of one of our sets we looked over and he’s standing there by the door. We were thrilled, but also terrified that he might turn around and leave, but he started tapping his cane and we figured that was a good sign. Then the guitar player came up and said, ‘Jaimoe will sit in with you.’ and we said, ‘Oh, Hell yes!’.”
With music steeped in several genres including blues, rock, and jazz, TRIBUTE never get tired of playing hits like “Midnight Rider,” “Ramblin’ Man,” and “Statesboro Blues.” Their audiences never tire of hearing them, either.
“One of the things I love about playing this music in 2019 is how cross-generational it is,” said Gunther. “We get people that are 16 and people that are 76 and everything in between. For the older folks, the music is still hanging on and for younger people, they’ve discovered it and embraced it, too.”