A rainstorm hovered ominously in the sky last Friday evening. Would they bring the Woodstock Allstars inside the Stewart House, where the audience and band would be in tight quarters? Or was the concert going to be outside? Thankfully, the show wasn’t moved indoors, but nevertheless, the band was hot.
At their annual concert in Athens’ Riverfront Park, David Malachowski’s Allstars played a whopping two-hour set of mostly standards peppered with a handful of Malachowski originals. And the Allstars lived up to their name. Daniel A. Weiss manned the stage-left keyboards, while organist Pete Levin anchored the other side of the stage. Brother Tony Levin “filled in” on bass for the usual Graham Maby, while Gary Burke provided the muscle and big beat behind the drums.
Among the many highlights of the blues-based set were several original tunes from bandleader-guitarist-vocalist Malachowski, including “I’m Goin’ Down to Newberg” and “Jump Up.” Also featured were “Further On Up the Road” (made famous by Eric Clapton), “Hideaway” (Freddie King) and a highly original version of Miles Davis’ “All Blues” with Machan Taylor at the microphone and a mid-song shuffle break featuring fabulous harp by the mighty Dennis Gruenling and wailing sax-work by Erik Lawrence.
Along the way, they also fired up a cooking version of Booker T & the MG’s “Green Onions,” as well as a simmering cover of Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billie Joe.” Violinist Lorenza Ponce took over the microphone for a righteous rendition of Muddy Waters’ “Baby Please Don’t Go.”
Surprise special guest vocalist Genya Ravan – remember Ten Wheel Drive? – jumped into the spotlight to tear through “Stormy Monday” and the salacious “Baby What You Want to Do.” Her mastery of the music and joyful singing with the rest of the band brought the house down. By the way, she played a pretty mean harp, too.
The evening set was brought to an end with a joyous, celebratory rendering of the Dave Mason/Traffic/Joe Cocker classic “Feelin’ Alright.”
Feeling alright was a monumental understatement. Yes, it did rain at the end, but really, who cared?
Review and photographs by Rudy Lu