By Wade Tatagelo
Herald-Times / Thursday, June 25, 2015
One of the original members of the Allman Brothers Band has recruited a couple of local musicians for a newly announced show in Florida. Venice’s Berry Duane Oakley and former Bradenton Beach resident, Damon Fowler, will be part of Butch Trucks and the Freight Train Band’s next gig on September 19 at the Funky Biscuit in Boca Raton. The lineup for that performance is Trucks (drums), Oakley (bass/vocals), Fowler (guitar/vocals) and Al Poliak (keyboards). Oakley, who performs throughout the region with his band Skylab, has known Trucks pretty much his entire life, joining him and the rest of the Allman Brothers Band members at the podium when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.
Oakley’s dad, also named Berry Oakley, was the bassist/vocalist in the original Allman Brothers Band and played with Trucks on such classic albums as “At Fillmore East,” “Eat a Peach” and “Brothers and Sisters” before being killed in a motorcycle accident in 1972. Prior to the Allman Brothers retiring last year, Oakley Jr. sat in with the band during several Beacon Theatre gigs in New York.
“Standing on that stage, looking down the line that my father helped build is such an honor and joy,” Oakley told me in 2013. “It’s hard to put in words but once you’re up there on that stage, it’s like being home.”
Fowler, now living in Lakeland, is signed as a solo artist, and as a member of Southern Hospitality, to national blues label Blind Pig, but has been known to jam with Oakley in recent months at Hoosier Bar in Osprey. Fowler has been given a long list of songs to learn, many of which are already familiar to him. He would only reveal that several Allman Brothers classics, which he has known for years, are on the list. They include “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’”, “Hot ‘Lanta” and “Whipping Post.”
“I’m very excited and honored to be a part of this project,” Fowler says by phone before a performance this evening with his power trio in Cleveland, Ohio. “As a guitar player, I always dreamed of playing with someone like Butch Trucks. Growing up in Florida and listening to the Allman Brothers and that great list of guitar players that have come up through that umbrella, it’s really special to be a part of that tradition.”