So as the city prepares for the year's first Subway Series, today we report news (h/t jambands.com) about something that is as much a part of New York City to me as the Yankees or Mets. Says founding ABB member Butch Trucks:
"...we won't be at the Beacon anymore. They just announced that Cirque du Soleil is moving in there, sad to say. We'll still do a multi-show thing in New York, but we're looking for another venue. With things the way they are, there's a lot of empty theaters on Broadway."That's some sad stuff right there, and it's gone relatively unnoticed. After years of freakin' and peakin' at The Beacon, now the ABB is sneakin' out The Beacon. I've gone to at least one show every Beacon Run since 2001. It's every bit as much a right of spring to me as "pitchers and catchers report" and Opening Day. Yet I can't say I'm surprised.
The Beacon came under the control of Cablevision in November 2006. As you may know, everything Cablevision touches - the Knicks, the Rangers, my buddy Art's cable installation - turns to shit. From the time they seized control of The Beacon I suspected this day was coming. Planned renovations nearly derailed the 2008 run, until a last minute deal was reached. In the end, a flare up of Gregg Allman's hepatitis cancelled the 2008 run. Now it's done for good. For Cirque du fucking Soleil. /vomits
Expected or not, it's the end of an era. The Allmans first played The Beacon on September 27, 1989, as part of their 20th Anniversary Reunion Tour. They would play there three more times that month and add 184 more Beacon shows through multishow runs in 1992, 1994, 1996-2007, and 2009. As it stands now, the last ABBeacon show ever was March 28, 2009 - a show I attended - but that's no consolation to the end of this tradition.
The Beacon Run was quintessential ABB. Guests came out of the woodwork to play there. Through the years I've seen Chuck Leavell, Gary Rossington, Peter Frampton, Hubert Sumlin, Bela Fleck, Luther Dickinson, Larry McCray, Dick Griffin, Robert Randolph, Susan Tedeschi, Roy Haynes, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, and others. You may not recognize any, or all, of the names, but it was an atmosphere that couldn't be recereated elsewhere.
If 2009 was in fact the final Beacon Run, they went out with a bang. It was the band's 40th Anniversary celebration, and a tribute to the memory of founder Duane Allman. All manner of guests joined in to honor his memory and the history of the band, amongst them: Bonnie Bramlett, the aforementioned Weir and Lesh, John Hammond, Taj Mahal, Levon Helm, Johnny Winter, Buddy Guy, Trey Anastasio, Boz Scaggs, Jimmy Herring, and for the first time ever, Eric Clapton.
This won't be the first time the run moves from the Beacon. 1995 saw a six show run at Radio City Music Hall in place of the Beacon. Radio City is also Cablevision controlled, so I doubt that's where they'll go now. Butch mentioned a potential "Broadway Theater", but my guess would be the United Palace Theater up in Washington Heights. It's becoming the new "it" theater in the city, and was the rumored back-up destination had The Beacon fallen through in 2008.
But it won't be the same. Aside from the atmosphere, and the beautiful, classic venue, I'll miss the neighborhood. Brother Jimmy's, Blondie's, the since relocated P&G, the Gin Mill, the
This also marks the end of an era for the ABB. Founding members Gregg Allman, Butch Trucks, and fellow CT resident Jaimoe are getting old. Guitar slingers Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks both have their own bands, which they have to neglect for large portions of the year while touring with the ABB. Outside of the NYC run next year and perhaps a summer festival or two, it doesn't appear that the band will be touring any more. And that's real sad. I strongly, strongly suggest you get out this summer and catch the ABB - preferably while they're on the road with Widespread Panic.
All good things must come to an end. And it appears that 2009 will mark the end of The Beacon Run and the ABB summer tour. Like Yankeee Stadium closing last year, it's sad. Something that means a lot to me won't be around anymore. But I look forward to what 2010 and beyond holds for Gov't Mule, the Derek Trucks Band, Soul Stew Revival, and whatever Oteil Burbridge is cooking up.
This is, afterall, a baseball blog. So lest we get chastised again, I'll end on a baseball note. Guitarist Derek Trucks is a big baseball fan and is the nephew of drummer Butch Trucks. Butch is the nephew of former Major League pitcher Virgil Trucks. Virgil is one of four men (Nolan Ryan, Johnny Vander Meer, and former Yankee Allie Reynolds) to throw two no hitters in the same season. He finished his 17 year Big League career in 1958 with the World Champion New York Yankees.
See, it all comes back to baseball....