Peach pleases three years and counting

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First Posted: 8/18/2014

If Sunday’s festival-closing performance by the Allman Brothers Band at the third annual Peach Music Festival was truly the last time we will see the band in Northeast Pennsylvania, then it definitely went out on a high note.

The Peach, which drew approximately 50,000 to The Pavilion at Montage Mountain and the Montage Mountain Waterpark between Thursday, Aug. 14 and Sunday, Aug. 17, is so far slated to be back in 2015. If we ever see the Allman Brothers Band again is anyone’s guess as it has announced its intention to retire from the road following its 2014 run, which looks like it will conclude in late October with one last stand at New York City’s Beacon Theatre. However, band members have not ruled out getting back together to do one-off performances.

Following Saturday’s performance of its landmark 1972 album “Eat a Peach” in its entirety, Sunday’s show was more of a grab bag of ABB favorites plus a few choice covers. The two-hour set started with an instrumental version of Spencer Davis Group’s “Don’t Want You No More” and Gregg Allman’s “It’s Not My Cross to Bear,” just as the band’s self-titled debut album did back in 1969.

The group hit its early stride with “Midnight Rider,” a cover of Elmore James’ “Done Somebody Wrong” and “Hot ‘Lanta,” first heard on 1971’s “At Fillmore East,” which has won numerous polls as the best live album ever released.

After a few more numbers, the band welcomed Taj Mahal (who played earlier in the day with his trio) to the stage for “Statesboro Blues,” which was only fitting since it learned the Blind Willie McTell song from Mahal’s eponymous 1968 debut album. Baritone saxophone player Ron Holloway then joined the band for an inspired version of “Soulshine,” one of the group’s best latter-day songs.

Sunday’s set hit its peak at the end with the always superb instrumental “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” which segued nicely into a drum and percussion tour de force by original members Butch Trucks and Jaimoe and percussionist Marc Quinones, who has been with the ABB since 1991.

The set ended with 1994’s “No One To Run With” and then bassist Oteil Burbridge kicked off an epic “Whipping Post” for the encore, with guitarists Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks and vocalist Allman leaving the crowd wanting more.

All four days of the festival provided numerous highlights, but one of the best sets was a last-minute addition subbing for Bob Weir as Friday night was absolutely owned by “A Dead Set,” featuring Furthur drummer Joe Russo, RatDog keyboardist Jeff Chimenti, guitarists Scott Metzger and Tom Hamilton and bassist Reed Mathis.

American Babies and Brothers Past frontman Hamilton provided the vocals for opening number “Truckin’,” which was followed by a superb “Shakedown Street.” Trigger Hippy vocalist Jackie Greene joined in for “Sugaree,” then he and his band mate Joan Osborne led the crowd on a delightful medley of “Not Fade Away” and “Turn On Your Lovelight.”

Earlier on Friday, Peach returnees Blackberry Smoke pulled off a great hour-long set with its own “Six Ways to Sunday,” “Good One Comin’ On” and “Ain’t Got the Blues” plus The Band’s “Don’t Do It” (which itself was a version of the Motown song “Baby Don’t You Do It”) and snippets of the ABB’s “Midnight Rider” and Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks.”

Sunday morning kicked off with “Wake Up With Warren,” with the Gov’t Mule and ABB singer and guitarist Haynes playing solo. The tail end of his time on stage may have been the best as he finished up with a lovely version of George Harrison’s “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)” and a Pink Floyd medley of “Wish You Were Here” and “Comfortably Numb.”

Haynes was followed by Mahal, the 72-year-old bluesman, who played a host of tunes from his 1968 album “The Natch’l Blues” including “Corinna” and “Good Morning Miss Brown,” and a great version of “Fishin’ Blues” to open his set.

Up next was The Soul Rebels, a brass band from New Orleans, which scored with covers of ‘80s tunes like “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” and “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” and the 1976 Stevie Wonder standout “I Wish.”