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Allman Brothers Band cuts ribbon on museum

Joe Kovac Jr.
McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

MACON, Ga. — The lyric inscription on what is no doubt the most psychedelic security gate in these parts — "And The Road," it reads, wrapped around an enormous mushroom, "Goes On ... Forever" — wasn't entirely accurate outside the Allman Brothers Museum at the Big House on Friday afternoon.

The Brothers themselves were in town for a gig — their first Macon concert in 19 years — and they'd dropped back by their most hallowed haunt.

And it seems they can still stop traffic. Or at least slow it down.

A public works crew barricaded a lane of U.S. 41 in front of 2321 Vineville Ave. so the few hundred or so Allman fans and onlookers on hand for the museum's official ribbon-cutting would have plenty of room.

"We're all just knocked out by this," Gregg Allman said from the recently opened museum's front steps. The house was the band's communal home in the early 1970s.

"This has been a long time coming," he said. "It sat here for about 10 years and kind of got done and kind of got done ... and we're done."

One of the band's founding members, Butch Trucks, said, "This morning I went around with a camera and kind of got a Butch's view of Macon, and just remembered what an absolutely unbelievable place this was."

Said Trucks: "We came here, and for seven years we tore this place to pieces. Any of you guys remember Ronnie Thompson? Well, Ronnie Thompson was the mayor ... and we started making a lot of money and bringing that into town so he kind of told the cops to leave us alone, just keep us from killing each other. Once we figured that out, we took full advantage of that. And then about 1976 they got a new mayor, and he changed his mind and we all moved. So now we're back."

Fans from as far away as Chicago and Finland, some of them following the band for a few concerts, stood on the Big House lawn across from First Christian Church for what was, at times, a front-porch revival.

"God bless you all. God bless the Allman Brothers. This has just been a magical life," Trucks said. "There is something about music that nothing else can do. I walk onstage (for concerts) a 62-year-old really old guy and about halfway through the first song I'm an 18-year-old Super Butch. And then about three hours later, I'm a 90-year-old Claude Hudson Trucks Jr. and I can't wait till the next night when Super Butch shows up again."

Drummer Jaimoe Johnson, reminiscing about his years in town and the renovation of the Big House, said, "I lived here for 19 years. I came here Dec. 4 to play for the opening of this (museum), and when I walked in that door there, it took my breath away. It's unbelievable what they've done in there."

Someone in the crowd hollered, "God bless the Allman Brothers!"

When it came time to snip the ceremonial ribbon, Trucks made it sound more like they were cutting a record. In a voice deep and cool enough to kick off a blues lick, Trucks said, "One, two, three, cut it!"

Macon Mayor Robert Reichert declared his allegiance to the Southern rock legends and told folks in the yard below of his ancestral ties to the group. Or at least to one its song's namesakes.

"I've got one more connection to the Allman Brothers Band. My great-grandmother was Elizabeth Reed Napier," Reichert said to wild applause, having invoked the name of the woman whose Rose Hill Cemetery headstone inspired the tune "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed."

Then, with mid-afternoon traffic crawling past, the mayor handed the band a key to the city, which bore the inscription "For the Allman Brothers Band, the road goes on forever, but we are pleased that they call Macon, Ga., home."

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