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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Chloe Everson
Chloe Everson
Sports Editor

Hi! My name is Chloe and I am a fourth-year senior here at NMU. I am a Public Relations major and have always enjoyed sports. I love being outdoors, shopping, and drinking coffee at all hours of the...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas Wiertella April 30, 2024

‘Blues’ unconventional

All rock you listen to, no matter what shape or form, is conceived by a long string of influence rooting back to the one true American style: the blues. Gregg Allman’s “Low Country Blues,” his seventh solo album after a 14-year hiatus, pays tribute to that genre in paramount form.

Known obviously for his far-reaching career alongside his brother Duane with the Allman Brothers Band, Allman is a class act for turning the blues into psychedelic majesty in hits such as “Ramblin Man” and “Midnight Rider.” There are very few artists to this date who could appreciate, as well as demonstrate, the power of country blues like he has with this album. This is the product of playing and touring the blues since 1969.

When I close my eyes and listen to the opening track, Sleepy John Este’s “Floating Bridge,” I instantly drift through a humid swamp deep in the South. Allman, now 63, has developed a somber grit in his voice, which is genuine for songs like “Can’t Be Satisfied,” originally performed by Muddy Waters.

Allman treats the blues as a continuous rock ‘n’ roll sanctuary; a safety net to come back to and stylize to perfection. Such songs as “Little by Little,” originally performed with just an acoustic guitar, is Allmanized with bone-chilling organs, electric guitar, percussions and piano solos that make it an instant ballad that will feel right at home at any back-country U.P. bar.

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With only one of 12 songs written by Allman, it can’t be a five-star achievement. However, that doesn’t mean it neglects his talent, or his wild creativity either.

If there’s one thing I love about Allman, it’s that he’s not afraid of being unconventional. On several of the songs, his long-time solo percussionist Floyd Miles breaks out steel drums as well as oyster shells rattling on his ankles, which many would find odd for a blues/country album such as this. In addition, the use of a stand-up bass rather than an electric adds real character to a true country blues album.

Allman gets really personal in the one song he wrote with Gov’t Mule’s Warren Haynes, “Just Another Rider,” where seeds of self-destruction are still apparent in the haunting lyrics. Nevertheless, Haynes does what he does best as the hardest-working guitarist in the business, shredding away in what is a noteworthy track.

The album is produced by none other than T-Bone Burnett, a world-renowned songwriter and music producer and long-time acquaintance of Allman. After walking away with an Academy Award for his original song for the film “Crazy Heart,” he approached Allman and offered him the chance to put out an album covering a collection of legendary country blues tunes. It’s the shades of blue in Allman’s vocals, amplified by Burnett’s austere, consciously antique production, that make “Low Country Blues” an eerie pleasure with quietly persistent emotional conviction.

Taking a break from the top 40 on the radio is always a fantastic idea. A better one is to listen to a monumental musician like Allman play music that conceived an entire genre, as well as his own career. This is an album that illustrates America, road trips, beaches and apple pie. I would not be surprised to see these tunes on a playlist alongside hits from Bob Seger and Bruce Springsteen. This is not the “Ramblin Man” Allman. This is “Low Country Blues,” and it will have you surrendering to the soulful sounds of the South.

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