OB: Yeah‚ because he has grown so much.
DC: He has.
OB: Every year. It just got better and better. It has to have exceeded everybody's expectations. I don't think any of us could have realized how good it was going to be.
DC: That's great. Let me ask you something else about the evolution of the group over the last few years. Was it a surprise to you in any way when it was announced that Warren Haynes was going to come back and play with the Allmans for the Beacon run in 2001?
OB: It wasn't a surprise for me when it was announced because I knew about it ahead of time. [laughter]
DC: Right. Well‚ yeah.
OB: In this band‚ the only thing that I have been in the Allman Brothers is surprised. [laughter] I mean‚ I've been in the band for ten years. How's that for a surprise?
DC: That's a pretty good benchmark.
OB: I was relieved‚ though. We really didn't know what was going to happen. But it's par for the course of the Allman Brothers: you never know what is going to happen. You just have to take it one day at a time. So when I found that out‚ I was really relieved because I thought… well with having a totally new chemistry up front-me‚ Jimmy and Derek. That had to be really scary for the original guys.
DC: Well‚ I suppose it was to an extent.
OB: And so to have one come back‚ I knew that would really put them at ease and kind of bridge that gap between Derek and I and the original guys.
DC: And that really seems to be the role he has played since then‚ to be kind of a catalyst and a liaison between the three original members and Mark and you guys who have brought the fresh blood into the band. Have you really noticed and felt the band's chemistry evolving and sharpening over the last five years?
OB: Oh‚ definitely. I felt last year was the best musically since I have joined the band and certainly the most fun I have had in the band‚ from the second night at the Beacon last year through the end of the year. I think a lot of it was‚ you know‚ things come with time.
DC: Sure.
OB: It's hard when you keep changing members‚ even though the other people aren't starting from scratch. But in a way they are. You put a new flavor. It's just like if you are making this dish and you have made the dish the same way for the last twenty years and then all of a sudden you throw a new spice in there. It's going to change it and it's going to affect all of the other flavors. It's not like starting completely from scratch‚ but there is a starting over that happens. We've had a few years with these same guys and you get everybody clicking. Last year was just amazing. It was like a reward after all of these years of being in that band.
DC: That's terrific. It must be really gratifying.
OB: Well‚ it sure was fun.
DC: A friend of mine and I went to see you two successive nights at the end of August. You played in New Hampshire one night and then at the Tweeter Center in Massachusetts the next night. The two shows were remarkably different‚ but they were both terrific in their own way. This buddy of mine said to me while we were driving home‚ "You know‚ that's the best I've seen these guys maybe ever." And he has been going to see the Allman Brothers in various incarnations since the mid-to-late Nineties. I saw the original band. I saw them with Lamar‚ Chuck‚ and then I saw them with Woody and Warren‚ and then I went to the Beacon for the first time in 2003 and I was blown away. Every year these people have gotten tighter and yet more inventive. This last summer was just: "How do these guys keep coming up with these ideas?" It's the chemistry and the magic of the chemistry I guess that does it.
OB: Well‚ and it takes time‚ too. There's a curve with things. It's like any kind of growth with a person. They get a certain period of time that's like a golden period‚ where they are blooming and everything is perfect. The light is hitting it and everything is just right. That's the time. You know?