Remember those hot summer nights in high school when everyone flocked to someone’s garage to watch the cool-kid musicians gather for a spontaneous jam fest?
Well, this is going to be just like that.
Except the jam band is headed by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame musician Butch Trucks. And your friend’s garage is the Funky Biscuit in Boca Raton.
The Funky Biscuit kicks off its 5 Year Anniversary Celebration on July 21 with Allman Brothers drummer and founding member Butch Trucks and his current lineup, Butch Trucks and the Freight Train Band.
Expect Trucks to play Allman Brothers classics mixed with covers of greats like Jeff Beck and John Scofield. But don't expect it to sound like anything you've heard before, because like the early days of the Allman Brothers, the Freight Train Band will roll down whatever track the songs take them.
“One thing I loved about the Allman Brothers at its best is when you just don’t know what’s going to happen next,” Trucks says. “Especially those first couple of years before Duane [Allman] died. We would dive into a solo and, hell, it might last 45 minutes and go 5 or 6 different places before it comes back to the song again.”
As early architects of southern rock, the Allman Brothers became best known for songs such as “Midnight Rider,” “Whipping Post,” and “Ramblin’ Man.” Their improvisational style may have best been captured on their live platinum album At Fillmore East, widely revered by critics as one of the most significant in rock history.
Despite the motorcycle deaths of Duane Allman and Berry Oakley in the early '70s, the Allman Brothers enjoyed a 45-year run before officially disbanding in October 2014.
Trucks took a year off to ruminate in his 13th-century farmhouse in southern France, but he yearned to create music and only a year later formed Butch Trucks and the Freight Train Band.
“What we’re doing is covering more fusion, instrumental stuff,” he says. “We do more jamming than we do playing the melody.”
Trucks, one of Rolling Stone Magazine’s 100 Greatest Drummers of All Time, says the band’s mixture of both generational and musical styles helps fuel the creativity he felt was lacking
“We got away from playing the music and started trying to entertain people,” Trucks says of some of the Allman Brothers years that he felt were less focused on music and more focused on record sales — years, Trucks says, he would rather forget.
“The last five years [with the Allman Brothers], people were more afraid of making a mistake than playing something new and original, and I got bored.”
The Freight Train Band’s off-the-cuff act is fronted by an unlikely addition to the old-school rockers: 21-year-old Heather Gillis, who met Trucks after asking to sit in with him at a blues club in Tallahassee.
“My first reaction was, boy, this is gonna suck,” Trucks says, laughing. “She proceeded to do Bill Withers’ ‘Ain’t No Sunshine,’ and then after singing the hell out of it, started shredding a Gibson Les Paul. Next thing you know, she was in the Freight Train Band.”
Funky Biscuit owner Albert Poliak is thrilled to be celebrating the club’s fifth anniversary and credits its success to the wide variety of music played there, including blues, jazz, funk, Americana, and rock.
“I was like, ‘That’s it,'”
The legendary Leon Russell was scheduled to round out the anniversary weekend, but after recently suffering a heart attack, Russell’s show is being rescheduled for a yet-to-be-determined fall date. Tickets will be honored at that time.
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In the interim, Russell is set to undergo open-heart surgery this week, and hopes for a speedy recovery go out to Russell and his family.
Funky Biscuit will announce Russell’s weekend replacement July 20 via their Facebook page.
Funky Biscuit is located at Royal Palm Place, 303 SE Mizner Blvd. #59, Boca Raton. Funky Biscuit's 5 Year Anniversary Celebration features Butch Trucks and the Freight Train Band July 21 and yet-to-be-determined acts July 22-23; tickets cost $30-$70; 561-395-2929; funkybiscuit.com.