Friday, May 13, 2011

Q&A with former Allman Brothers Band guitarist Dan Toler; headlining free MacFest on May 14

Dan Toler/photo provided
As a personal and Bradenton Herald policy, I don't do email interviews for feature stories. But when told that former Allman Brother Band, Dickey Betts & Great Southern as well as Gregg Allman Band guitarist and Manatee County resident Dan Toler had a swollen vocal cord and was under doctor's orders not to speak, it seemed only fair to make an exception.

Toler headlines MacFest: A Free Celebration of Suncoast Music.

The event on Old Main Street in downtown Bradenton starts at 2 p.m. Saturday (May 14) and features an outstanding lineup of artists who are members of Dickey Betts' Great Southern group.

In addition to this e-mail exchange with Toler, I talked to Great Southern keyboardist/vocalist Mike Kach, Betts' bassist/vocalist Pedro Arevalo and others involved with MacFest for this Weekend cover story:

Southern rock showdown in Bradenton.

Q&A with Dan Toler

So sorry to hear about the vocal problems. How long have you lived here?

I actually live in the Whitfield area ...  I have been in this area since 1975, with the exception of 1989 through September of 1992, when I lived in Nashville.

Who will be singing vocals and backing you May 14?

I have a young man, a guitarist and vocalist by the name Tony Tyler. And a good possibility of a young lady who really sings her you know what off, Lauren Mitchell, may do a couple tunes. What a voice.

Of the other confirmed artists/acts on the lineup — Michae Mac Band, Ben Hammond Kettle of Fish, Mike Kach, Pedro Arevalo — have you performed with any of them before?

Yes, I have worked with Mike Kach and Pedro Arevalo when I was working with Betts & Great Southern. I have not had the pleasure of meeting Ben Hammond or Kettle of Kettle of Fish but am looking forward to it.

Kach and Arevalo are in Betts’ band, which you played in as recently as the mid-2000s. When was the last time you talked to (Sarasota resident) Betts?

Actually several months ago. I am not 100% sure of when exactly. We run into each other once in a while.

Last time you played/jammed with Betts?

We played a benefit for a little girl with eye problems a few months back. Dickey`s son Duane was playing with Great Southern and it was really cool jamming with Duane. He`s a real good dude.

When you were an Allman Brother for a three-album run from 1979 to 1982, including the band's comeback, “Enlightened Rogues,” how many band members lived in Manatee or Sarasota?

Dickey, Frankie Toler (drums), David Goldflies (bass), Greg Allman and myself. Butch Trucks (drums) lived in Tallahassee, Jaimoe (drums) lived in Macon and Jim Essery (harmonica) lived in St Augustine.

What’s your favorite memory from that period with the Allman Brothers?

There are a few, I really enjoyed playing JFK Stadium in front of 140,000 people or fans. When they would cheer the musical sound would disappear from the crowd volume, and what a feeling of power that represented.

When you and your brother Frankie were cutting the title track to  “I’m No Angel” with Gregg Allman did you sense it would be such a big hit?

Yes, absolutely. Ya know, ya kind of get a feeling in your gut about a song like that, as it has all the right ingredients: catchy intro good chord changes, a great melody and vocal, a killer solo and a killer vamp out. We played that song on the road for three years before recording it.

When was last time you spoke with Gregg?

Right after my brother's liver transplant in 2008.

Any surprise guests expected at MacFest?

Can`t let any cats out of the bag as you never know who might show up. This area has several fine artists so just come on down and check out the scene on May 14th and see for yourselves.

What future Dan Toler projects — or Toler/Townsend Band should we know about?

John Townsend and I have been collaborating on new songs and ideas for a new album in the future. As for myself, I am thinking about a possible blues album for next year and am currently working on gospel songs as this is something I have a major desire to do and to be able to give something back to the Lord as He has blessed me with music all my live and I am totally grateful for this.

You’ve played with all the Southern rock greats. What’s your favorite song to perform (that you didn’t write)?

Tough one here. I would have to say "Can`t You See" by the Marshall Tucker Band is one of the all-time great Southern rock songs. Also,  I would have to say "Midnight Rider" (Gregg Allman) is another classic and it stands to reason if you are going to play Southern rock ya best know one of these numbers.

Favorite of your own songs?

I love all of them bro. They are all very special to me.

Anything you wish to add?

We love playing to our fans and new people and I am proud to play with these guys. I only hope our fans come out in big numbers to support us as they usually do and we promise to rock their socks with some of southern rocks best players. We love ya`ll. Come have a good time with us on Saturday night May 14th. God bless you all.

Check out "Dangerous" Dan Toler's killer, 3 minute solo at the 1:42 mark from this 1979 Allman Brothers Band performance in Gainesville.


Anonymous said...

One of the greatest guitar players ever to pick up the six string....Can't wait to see Dangerous Dan this weekend.....Take care brother....Michael Wells

Circle of Care Board of Directors said...

Dan proved to be still dangerous with his axe. Great playing was heard tonight showcasing a great original piece and his past work with Dickie Betts, the Allman Brothers, Gregg Allman and Marshall Tucker Band, especially with the exchanges between Dan Toler and his new guitar protege, Tony Tyler. In fact, young Tony Tyler's playing and vocals could have stolen the show, except for the locals' visable love continues for their Dangerous Dan!