Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Georgia Theatre memories: Chuck Leavell

Word on the street is that Sea Level played the first concert in The Georgia Theatre when it transitioned from an empty movie house to a music venue in January 1978.

A splinter group of sorts from The Allman Brothers Band, Sea Level was developed by Chuck Leavell, whom you may know as a long-time member of The Rolling Stones.

But, in Middle Georgia, we think of Mr. Leavell as Twiggs County's most famous Rock Star forester. He's also kind enough to return phone calls quickly.
I called Randall (Bramblett) just to jog my memory a little bit, and we do remember that we did open (The Georgia Theatre) up. Now, Davis Causey says it might have been in '76, and not '78, but I guess if The Banner (Herald) researched it they're probably right. But I can tell you that what I do remember of it is that we had just expanded our band... and it was one of the first shows that we did with a larger band. ...

But that's certainly not my only experience with The Theatre. One of the most memorable times I had was with Col. Bruce Hampton and The Aquarium Rescue Unit. I got a call from Johnny Sandlin, and I wish I could tell you the year... but Johnny said, "Look, Bruce is playing The Georgia Theatre and we're gonna do a live C.D. How would you feel about being a guest?"

At the time I knew very little about them except that they were very, very hip, and I had known Bruce for a long time. ... And I went in and it was the kind of band where they really didn't want to rehearse. They just kind of liked things to happen spontaneously. So there was hardly any rehearsal. I think there was really just basically a discussion of what key something might be in. And, then, it was sort of like just turn it loose and see what happens. And what happened was it was a great, great show.

I think it's an iconic music venue for the state of Georgia and the southeast in general. It has a wonderful history. A very rich history of music and lots of interplay between fans and musicians. There's been a lot of wonderful jam sessions that have occurred there. ... I certainly hope that every effort will be made to rebuild it. I think it's a tragic loss. I'm sure that if, at some point in time it were needed, there would be a lot of musicians that would be willing to come together and do something to help it be rebuilt. ...

Is it more than a stage? Well it provides so many great memories for us as musicians. There's certain places that, maybe there's a little magic that goes on. And I would say that's one of those places. I think it would be a very sad thing to think it would no longer be there.
Mr. Leavell's interests these days trend more toward forest preservation and Mother Nature Network. As for The Stones, he noted that August "will mark two years of no Stones activity, so that's a pretty long period to be off and I would think it wouldn't be too much longer before the band would want to be doing something, whether it's a new record or a tour.

"So, hopefully, there won't be much longer to wait for The Stone's fans," he said.

Mr. Leavell said he'll be doing some solo shows soon, and that he's working on a book called Smart, Strong and Sustainable, "which will deal with growth issues in our country."


Jason said...

"Ladies and gentlmen, I'd like to introduce the greatest gentlemen, the greatest organization of gentlemen. Count Mbutu on percussion, Mr. Chuck Leavell on the keyboards, Oteil from Egypt, true. Mr Jimmy Herring on guitar, APT Q258 on the drums, Matt Mundy, Matt Mundy, I don't know what he's gonna play. Roooooooooosevelt. And my daddy, Col. Bruce Hampton, Retired."

Classic album

Brian said...

I've been trying to find a copy of that album for years.

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