No, wait, from there things erupted: enter Bernard Purdie, Jerry Jemmott and Jimmy Smith from King Curtis’ Kingpins and a touching speech by Jemmott about the connection between the two bands and his memories of Duane leaving Muscle Shoals “to go start some band with his brother.” It was an all-soul and rock ‘n’ roll round robin from that moment on: first a lovely Soul Serenade (sung by Mike Mattison and Susan Tedeschi), then the hoped-for Memphis Soul Stew, and finally, Buddy Miles’ Them Changes, hard and funky and sung by Haynes and evolving into a Southbound-style boogie jam at the end. Ron Holloway stepped in and out throughout, as did Jaimoe, and perhaps the only drawback was that it meant nearly half an hour without Gregg onstage. But they didn’t even end there — Doucette reemerged for a rollicking, roadhouse You Don’t Love Me. (And I can’t imagine that’s the last of Doucette, either — maybe he’ll be back for a few more tonight.)
In set two came one of the band’s deftest decisions: a jam on Blue Sky out of the Little Martha photo montage they’ve been opening most shows with. No vocals, but the statement was made, and it set a pleasant tone for an overwhelming pleasant second set. Jimmy Herring and John Bell emerged and served up three songs shared by Allmans and Panic alike — Walk on Gilded Splinters, And It Stoned Me and a heavy Can’t Find My Way Home. John Bell’s vocals, to me, are always a little odd-sounding outside the confines of Panic but he traded verses with Gregg on Splinters, Warren on Stoned and took over entirely the Blind Faith classic, all three featuring Herring’s signature honeyed lyricism.
[Moogis Screenshot by Gondicar]
The fleet-fingered Herring, who returned after a long, drums segment-plugged Leave My Blues At Home, complemented Trucks and Haynes so well, and to hear the three of them hurtle like comets through a fiery Les Brers was nirvana, Jimmy and Derek pulling aside for some head-cutting, and then Warren muscling his way back into the conversation with a fireball solo of his own. I read a few complaints on the ABB message boards that Herring should have stayed for more of the set, if not the entire show. I know the feeling. Herring was dazzling, and “fit himself” — understandably — into the band better than maybe anyone who’s been onstage at the Beacon so far this year.
The extended Statesboro Blues was the chosen encore and it couldn’t help but feel remote: earthbound, regular, familiar. Guess we had to come down some time.