Oh Brother, Brother – SNJ Today

The weekend of the brothers arrives at Levoy. April 8 hosts “A Brothers Revival,” an evening featuring the music of the Allman Brothers and their friends. David Goldflies, who played bass with the Allman Brothers for over four years, will be in the house.

The following night, the Zmed Brothers pay tribute to another pair of siblings, the Everly Brothers.

Since the beginnings of rock in the 1950s, the brothers have been part of the musical landscape. In addition to the Allmans and the Everlys, we had the Beach Boys; The Kinks; the Neville brothers; Earth, Air and Fire; the Jackson Five; Credenza Clearwater Revival; the Osborne brothers; the Jonas Brothers; the Righteous Brethren; and the Bee Gees, to name a group. Oh, wait a minute. The Righteous Brethren were not brethren.

Is there something in the DNA that brings siblings together in song? You can argue that the way the Everly Brothers blend their vocals to create such smooth overtones wouldn’t have been possible if they weren’t brothers.

So what about Simon and Garfunkel? Their harmonies sound so…brotherly, but then they were inspired by the Everly Brothers. The two duos had something else in common: spats. Don and Phil Everly stopped talking to each other and performing for years. And the constant rifts between Art Garfunkel and Paul Simon are legendary.

The Davies brothers with the Kinks and the Fogerty brothers with Creedence tell the same story of sibling discord.

“Just because there were other bands of brothers that had disagreements doesn’t mean all bands would be in the same situation,” Goldflies, aka Rook, said. In case you’re too young to remember, Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle accident near Macon, Georgia, just over two years after the band formed.

“The effect of losing Duane Allman, the band’s founder, cannot be overstated. In my experience in the band, Duane Allman was revered and his loss in this tragic accident felt like a brother to every member of the band had been lost, says Goldflies, who joined the band in the 1970s.

“A Brothers Revival” originated to showcase the music and spirit of the Allman Brothers, who released their first album in 1969. Call it a legacy band instead of a tribute band, a band that Goldflies spent his years playing and learning from —Gregg Allman, Dickey Betts, Berry Oakley, Butch Trucks, and Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson. (Oakley, the band’s bassist, also died in a motorcycle accident a year after Duane.)

Goldflies toured with Dickey Betts and Great Southern and learned firsthand how the Allman Brothers sound was created. Dickey Betts played a huge role in developing Goldflies musical skills. “Playing with Dickey Betts and Great Southern set the stage for me to be what the Allman Brothers needed when they began their reformation,” he says.

He and the band received a Grammy nomination for the Allman Brothers’ instrumental “Pegasus” from Enlightened Rogues, a Billboard Top 10 certified gold album.

Also in the band for this gig is keyboardist and vocalist Mike Kach, who has toured with Dickey Betts and Great Southern for over a decade and carries the same type of voice as Gregg Allman.

During a show that lasts approximately two and a half hours, “A Brothers Revival” reviews the litany of Allman Brothers hits: “Jessica”, “One Way Out”, “Statesboro Blues”, “Midnight Rider” , “Ramblin’ Man,” “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” “Whipping Post,” and a few surprises along the way for fans who appreciate deep jams.

“‘A Brothers Revival’ is my best effort to recreate the vibrancy and intensity I felt playing in the Allman Brothers Band,” says Goldflies. During that time I recorded three albums with the Brothers, and I was always asked to bring my own approach to bass playing on stage and in the studio. I consider ‘A Brothers Revival’ to be a continuation of the music I learned while I was with the Brothers. I would like to think that we are creating another chapter in the history of this great group.

The concert is inspired by all aspects of the music of the Allman Brothers, the solid musicianship and leadership of Betts, the bluesman chops of Gregg Allman, the sensible drumming style of Butch Trucks and the subtle rhythms of jazz and funk influenced by the Gulf Coast of Jaimoe.

“My whole band is approaching this project with a lot of determination and respect to do justice to the music of my old band, the Allman Brothers,” says Goldflies.

* * *

The Everly Brothers are as different in tone and texture from the Allman Brothers as night is from day. The two sets of performers can switch, but for the ballads, nod to the boys from Everly.

Dylan and Zach Zmed grew up in an entertainment house. Their father, Adrian, played Danny Zuko in the stage show Grease, set up in 1959. Before each performance, the speakers played old classics from that era, including the Everly Brothers. It was in the 1990s. But it wasn’t until 2012 that the Zmed brothers took this song seriously. They played clubs, with songs that showcased their close harmonies – the Beatles, Crosby Stills and Nash, Simon and Garfunkel and of course the Everly Brothers.

“Every time we sang an Everly tune, people would always come up to us and say ‘I love this song…’. We started to notice a real void in awareness of the impact of Don and Phil. on all the generations of musicians who have followed them,” says Zach. “We asked ourselves, ‘Is there anyone who pays homage to their history as well as their music?’ So that and our best friends and business partners Burleigh Drummond (drummer and tour manager) and Rich Rees (booking agent) plus the encouragement and mentorship of dear friends and family is really what set us on the path that we follow today.”

The duo have 27 issues in their series. “One of the hardest things we’ve faced over the years with the show is having to choose which songs not to do. There are so many great songs in their discography. All the huge hits and some songs are uniquely tied to our history by having performed Everly material over the past few years.

Towards the end of the show, the Zmed brothers went to the audience and chatted, getting feedback on ways to improve the show.

Dylan and Zach are too young to have had the chance to meet Don or Phil or attend a concert. “Even though we’ve never had the chance to see them in person, we’ve done our best to thoroughly study their treasure trove of live footage, interviews, performances and recordings. Nothing replaces an experience live, but with all the research we’ve done, it seems like the best thing to do,” says Dylan.

Over the years, they met family and acquaintances. They developed a relationship with Del Bryant, son of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, who wrote over 30 of the songs recorded by the brothers, including “Bye Bye Love”, “Wake Up Little Susie”, “All I Have To Do is Dream”, “Bird Dog” and “Devoted to You”.

“Our connection with Del has been hugely instrumental in shaping our show. He is a dear mentor, advisor and friend to us,” Dylan says.

The Zmed brothers seem to have a spiritual connection to their heroes. “We have realized over the years what a blessing it is to have the opportunity to celebrate their brotherly heritage, not as impersonators, but through our own minds as The Zmed Brothers,” says Dylan. “What really comes to mind is the importance of honoring something bigger than ourselves. They are the most influential rock n’ roll duo of all time and as artists, we consider it our rite of passage to honor them.

Then there’s the infamous spat that split the Everlys: “Doing our show at Everly has been remarkably therapeutic for our relationship as brothers. The Everly Brothers’ career is sometimes as much a cautionary tale as an achievement for us, and we can understand why. We can definitely attest to the fact that it can wear you down no matter who you’re with. Our group often acts as a buffer between us to keep us civil. Our manager Burleigh has mostly kept us in line, but Zach and I are working hard to remember the bigger purpose we aim to serve, and it’s restoring our faith that this will get us through the thickest and thinnest of times, despite our differences and our quibbles.

Despite the quibbles, there is still something to be said about family ties.

“The long tradition of singing together as a family is certainly the strongest thread in all music,” says Dylan. “There is a resonance that families make together where the sum is greater than the individual parts. I think that’s something all music is looking for and when the family can get along enough to do it, there really is magic in the air.

* * *

If you are going to:
• A Brother’s Revival: Former members of Allman Brothers Band and Dickie Betts & Great Southern. Left to right: David Goldflies, Ryan Boehme on drums, Matt Siegel. Friday, April 8 at 8 p.m. Tickets: Tickets are $32-$37, plus fees

• The Everly Brothers Experience featuring the Zmed brothers. Dylan Zmed at left, Zach kneeling. Saturday, April 9 at 7 p.m. Tickets: Tickets are between $29 and $34, plus fees

Both shows: Levoy Theatre, 126-130 N. High St., Millville. Call for tickets: 856-327-6400 or visit levoy.net

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