A few years back I paid a visit to the famous “Big House” on Vineville Avenue in Macon, Georgia. Kirk and Kirsten West made me feel at home in this beautiful place, and I enjoyed every single moment I spent visiting. Even then, the house was beginning to become a museum. Kirk’s massive collection of Allman Brothers Band memorabilia adorned the walls, There were ABB road cases, guitars and more. I was just mesmerized by it all. You see, I am one of those long time (since 1972) devotees of the group that I have always cited as my number one favorite band, even above The Beatles and my home town boys, The Marshall Tucker Band.
Needless to say, I could hardly wait to view the new DVD Please Call Home: The Big House Years. I sat glued to the television as Gregg Allman, Butch Trucks, Jaimoe, Chuck Leavell, Linda Oakley, Red Dog and others led me through a history of the ABB’s early years at the Big House.
There are so many great stories. Although I pride myself on being a Southern Rock historian, I still heard a few tales I had never before heard. There are lots of laughs and lots of tears. Like the Allmans themselves, this documentary takes you through the ups and the downs, but there is one underlying element that binds it all together, and Gregg says it at one point in the film. “We were a family. Maybe not by blood, but we were just as close as any family.” It was a real brotherhood.
The documentary is filled with tons of rare still photographs, old super 8 films and more. It is a true Southern treasure.
As an added bonus at the end, we are treated to a song from the current incarnation of the band, filmed in 2007 when they returned to their old stomping grounds at Piedmont Park. Warren and Derek are smoking on the guitars, as usual.
When I visited The Big House, Kirk let me sit at the kitchen table where Dickey Betts wrote “Blue Sky.” So many classic songs were written in that house, from “Whipping Post” to “Ramblin’ Man” to, of course, “Please Call Home.” The place has a real sense of magic, and when it opens to the public in December as the official ABB Museum, everyone will be able to share those magic feelings.
The sale of the DVD’s is one of the ways they are funding this great and historical venture. If you are a fan, you need this DVD. Not only will you be helping to see that the road goes on forever, but you’ll be getting an absolutely peachy documentary. Buffalo says, “check it out.”
-Michael Buffalo Smith