Rev Tor's Steal Your Peach Band & Friends honors Gregg Allman's music
This fall has been no different, with homages to various American folk stars and the Grateful Dead already gracing one of the Berkshires' most venerable stages.
Tor Krautter has been a frequent guardian of Berkshire Theatre Group's tribute concerts. The 48-year-old guitarist and vocalist's band, Rev Tor, has held a "Dead of Winter Jam" for the past six years, honoring Jerry Garcia and company. Last year, Rev Tor also presented "The Last Waltz," a tribute to The Band, at the Colonial. Krautter's group often backs regional musicians and has learned how to support a variety of different personalities and styles over the years.
"When you're in the situation where you're backing up these artists, it's [important] to let them be themselves and let them do their thing and to not try and steer the ship too much," Krautter said.
On Thursday night, Krautter will aim to do just that when he returns to Pittsfield for "Ain't Wastin' Time: A Berkshire Tribute to Gregg Allman with Rev Tor's Steal Your Peach Band & Friends." The event will celebrate the late Southern rock pioneer who was a founding member of the Allman Brothers Band and died from liver cancer complications on May 27. (Consequently, spectators are encouraged to bring nonperishable food items, which will be donated to Moments House, a community that supports cancer patients and others affected by the disease.) The Steal Your Peach Band will back a slew of local talents such as Sarah Lee and Abe Guthrie and Whiskey City's Randy Cormier. The set list will be limited to songs written by Allman, including the hits "Midnight Rider" and "Whipping Post" as well as "some more obscure stuff that maybe people haven't heard before but I'm sure will absolutely love," Krautter said. The show will look similar to Rev Tor's tribute to The Band.
"We're sort of using 'The Last Waltz' show as a model," the Stephentown, N.Y., resident said.
But the music, of course, will be different. Allman, the Allman Brothers' lead singer and keyboardist since the band's debut album was released in 1969, played a central role in creating a sound that blended a variety of Southern-tinged genres and involved a lot of jamming. The music resonated with Krautter, who was born in 1969 and grew up outside of New York City.
"It was so improvisational," he said.
Allman's verses also made a lasting impact on Krautter.
"I was just starting to become a musician [and songwriter] in my teen years and ... what really inspired me the most was music that told a great story, which is why I love the Dead — same reason that I love the Allman Brothers. I think Gregg's writing really painted a picture and told a story," he said.
Krautter has been a lifelong Allman Brothers fan, attending many of the band's shows. (He couldn't recall his first Allman Brothers concert, though he knows he saw the band at New York City's Beacon Theatre during his younger years.) He said the idea for the Allman tribute came when Rev Tor played at StrangeCreek Campout in Greenfield in May.
"Our performance ended up being on the day after [Allman] passed away, and the turnout for our set was so big because of that, because everybody knew we'd be performing his music," Krautter said, "and it just really struck us how much of an influence he had on so many people, not just musicians [but] the fans as well. And it was really a very emotional set. It really hit us, like, 'Wow, he really had a quite impact.'"
Since that time, Krautter has spearheaded the concert's recruitment of local musicians. His passion for tributes can be tracked to his childhood appreciation for music history, though his mentality has shifted a bit since that age.
"I was always into music growing up that was a little bit before my time. I was never really all that into what was happening at the moment. I appreciate [contemporary music] a lot more now than I did then," he said, noting that he strives to strike a balance between creating new music (seven Rev Tor CDs since the group's 1996 formation) and hosting tributes these days. He will continue to do so in the future, too, he said.
Before Allman's death, Krautter had happened to read the rock star's 2012 memoir, "My Cross to Bear," but he doesn't believe that extensive researching or reading about the subject of a tribute concert is a prerequisite to holding an event in his or her honor.
"I think for us, as musicians, it's really about the music," he said. "And I've always just felt that music is such a good representation of the artist and where they were in their life at the time that they wrote any specific song. It's always a good way to have a little window into what was going on in their life. Of course, it's subjective, and everyone takes what they want out of it, but I guess that's the whole point."
Benjamin Cassidy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @bybencassidy on Twitter and 413-496-6251.
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