Live At The Fillmore to bring authentic Allman Brothers music to F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre.
Lou Maresca was in the audience on June 26, 1971 when the Allman Brothers Band played at the Fillmore East in New York City, which was the last public show at the venue and one of the band’s most highly regarded performances. In March of that year, the Allman Brothers played two shows that became At Fillmore East, one of the most celebrated live recordings in rock history. Months after the June 26 show, when Maresca heard the Allmans play again without Duane Allman, who had died in a motorcycle accident, he was moved to preserve the sound he was so taken with at that memorable Fillmore performance.
Maresca’s band, Live At The Fillmore, will perform at 8 p.m. on Jan. 22 at the F.M. Kirby Center, bringing its nostalgic emulation of the early Allman Brothers Band music to Wilkes-Barre. Maresca, who has been playing Allman tunes since before the term “tribute band” was popular, said the audience will enjoy an authentic performance.
“The whole purpose of this is to bring to an audience the experience of going to an actual, original Allman Brothers Band concert in the early incarnation of the band with the original lineup with Duane Allman, Dickey Betts and Berry Oakley,” Maresca said.
Shortly after attending the Fillmore East show in ‘71, Maresca formed a band called Skydog, which came from a nickname Wilson Pickett gave to Duane Allman. The band played full Allman Brothers shows in the vein of the original group but didn’t last.
As years passed, Maresca owned and operated the TekCom Corporation, which he said became one of the largest distributors of professional audio equipment in the country, tying him to the music industry as he continued to play Allman Brothers music in his free time.
We “worked with a wide variety of people, anybody from the Grateful Dead to the Philadelphia Orchestra to the CIA and everybody in between,” Maresca said. “Through that affiliation, I was in touch with a lot of different performers and would get to sit in with people on an occasional basis.”
Maresca said Live At The Fillmore started after he was recruited by a band who was an Allman Brothers tribute but left to take his vision in another direction and that the current lineup of LATF is comprised of musicians who agree on presenting original arrangments of Allman Brothers songs rather than improvised versions.
“We’re here not to innovate,” Maresca said. “We’re here to basically emulate it or imitate it in as authentic a way as possible, and I think it’s the thing that separates us from other people that do it.”
Improvisation, he said is something the actual Allman Brothers Band has done in recent years, changing in texture and style with guitar players like Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks.
“They’re masters of the guitar in their own right,” Maresca said. “They were not confronted with, as we are, whether to play according to past arrangements. They were the Allman Brothers Band … and I think they had every right to take the band in different directions as they chose.”
Maresca said calling the Allman Brothers Band a “jam band” is a misnomer and that they are instead a “band that jams,” displaying specific arrangements in their early form and not straying in different directions like some jam bands do. That attention to authenticity and the roots of the Allman Brothers Band has garnered some attention from the Allmans’ home town.
“I think the highest compliment that’s been paid to us is from the people in Macon, Georgia where the Allman Brothers lived and where they performed almost on a weekly basis,” Maresca said. “The people there have lived with the original band since the time it was formed. They’re friends, family, neighbors, former crew of the band … and it’s always the same comments that, ‘If you close your eyes, you think you’re hearing the original band. You don’t just play it with heart and soul. You really play the songs and the arrangements according to the way the Allman Brothers Band did.’”
The original innovative music is what makes the sound timeless and what motivates him to carry on their tradition, Maresca said.
“Unlike any other band at that time, they took a number of different musical forms, they took traditional roots blues … rhythm and blues … jazz, and they melded it into a rock and roll form as well as or better than anybody else has done it before or since,” Maresca said. “I also think they introduced some different styles of guitar, in terms of bottle neck, slide guitar, and the other thing was bringing two guitars in to play melodies together in harmony.”
Live At The Fillmore’s upcoming trip to Wilkes-Barre will not be their first, Maresca said, and they are primed for a return after a pleasant experience in past years.
“This is our first performance at the F.M. Kirby Center. We played Wilkes-Barre before, at (the River Street Jazz Cafe),” Maresca said. “We had a great time there. We’re looking forward to it. I can promise anybody who comes out that if they’re an Allman Brothers fan in particular, they will really enjoy the show.”
Maresca said the show will be as close to a representation of Allman Brothers Band music from 1969-71 as his band can muster.
“If you want the experience of going and listening to the Allman Brothers Band music performed the way it was at its beginnings, come and hear Live At The Fillmore, because that’s what we do more closely than anybody else does it.”
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or Twitter@TLArts
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Live at the Fillmore
WHERE: F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, 71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre
WHEN: 8 p.m. Jan. 22. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
COST: $20 in advance, $25 day of show
For more information, call the box office at 570-826-1100.