“OK, who’s the fucking Phish fan? That was too much.” – Gregg Allman
For The Allman Brothers Band’s Summer Tour in 2000, the group recruited Jimmy Herring to fill the shoes of Dickey Betts, who had left the band’s employ weeks before the 37-date run. With Gregg Allman left as the lone regular vocalist in The Allman Brothers for that summer, they worked more instrumental material into the mix — including the return of “Mountain Jam” which allowed Herring – who celebrates his 54th birthday today – to go head-to-head with fellow ABB guitarist at the time, Derek Trucks.
“Mountain Jam,” which is loosely based on Donovan’s “First There Is A Mountain,” was a staple of ABB performances from the group’s early days through the mid 1970s. When the band reunited in 1989 they didn’t bring “Mountain Jam” back with them, though teases appeared at random times. On June 16, 2000 – Herring’s first show – the Allmans opened with “Mountain Jam” and played it nearly every night of the tour. The open-ended song gave Jimmy and Derek plenty of opportunities to take it “out.” In Alan Paul’s outstanding book One Way Out, Derek explained “We took ‘Mountain Jam’ to Mars, which is what (ABB roadie) Red Dog was always urging us to do. He’d say, ‘The original band took the song out! It was different every night. You can’t play the record.’ But after the show, we get on the bus, Gregg walks on and goes ‘OK, who’s the fucking Phish fan? That was too much.”
In a different interview Trucks pegged the venue where the “trip to Mars” happened as PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey. Audio of the 34-minute “Mountain Jam” from that performance on June 21, 2000 circulates and sure enough it does indeed go way “out” there in a wonderful way.
Celebrate Jimmy’s birthday today and give the epic “Mountain Jam” a listen:
Listen to Oteil Burbridge share his version of the story during an appearance on The JamBase Podcast starting around the 47-minute mark below:
[Originally Published: January 22, 2016]