Testimonials

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A Mystical Place

Many people have a mystical, special place that they heard of in their youth, and as time passed, a yearning developed to actually visit and experience what it is all about, and see if reality actually meets expectations. Some people go the Grand Canyon, while others journey to Paris. For fans of the Allman Brothers Band, the Holy Grail has always been 2321 Vineville Avenue in Macon, Georgia - site of the Big House. As a child of the ’70s, I grew up on the music of the Allman Brothers, as many of us did, and I first recall hearing of the Big House from an older guy who had been through Macon. He regaled us with tales of the Brotherhood, and the magic that existed at the Big House. His stories fascinated all of us, and a connection was made to the music of the Brothers and the communal home that was the centerpiece of their existence. By the time I was old enough to travel to Macon, the dream had seemingly died. Duane and Berry were gone, the band had disintegrated, and Southern rock had been replaced by the Flock of Seagulls. Despite that, those thoughts, the conjunctures, the images of how it must have been at the Big House stayed in my head. Maybe deep in the back, but still there, nonetheless.

1989 rolled around, and like a phoenix rising, the Allman Brothers were born again. The excitement was back, because the music had been resurrected, and was being played with the passion and spirit of the original band. Getting to see the ABB after so many years should have been enough, but still being curious about Macon, Rose Hill, and the Big House, those old memories started crawling around inside my head again, and the questions demanded to be answered.
In 1992, word got around about Hittin’ the Note, and that was an eye-opener. Just knowing there were fellow travelers on the same road made all the difference - I had such a deep passion for the ABB, and it was great to find out that there were others who felt the same way. When HTN disclosed that Kirk and Kirsten West had purchased the Big House and were actually going to live there, the big freak happened. The pilgrimage to Macon had to be made, and in April1994, it finally came to pass. Using Issue #3 of Hittin’ the Note as a guide, it took me to the Hippie Crash Pad, the H&H, Rose Hill, and finally, the Big House on Vineville. Seeing it for the first time was almost surreal - the place really did exist, it wasn’t a Brigadoon. Knocking on the door, I didn’t know what to expect, but Kirsten welcomed a total stranger into her home without hesitation. Kirk had just returned from the Beacon run, and he said he only had a few minutes to spend with me. Three hours later, we had made a complete tour of the house, from the archive collection, Duane’s room, the “Ramblin’ Man” kitchen, and the mother lode that is the third floor ABB tape storage area. We sat on the front porch, and it really was too much to take in. The same front porch that the band had sat around, with the bay window where “Blue Sky” was written right next to us. My mind stopped working at that point - I was actually at the spot that had occupied a major niche in my life for over 30 years, and the distance and the years just melted away. As for what we talked about, memory fails me, and it’s probably just as well, because I’m sure I was a babbling idiot. It’s a good thing Kirk didn’t remember either, because about a year later, luck handed me the Editor’s spot at Hittin’ the Note, and the Big House has become like a second home, but it always remains the Holy Grail.

Over the last 10 years, the Big House come to mean so much to so many people. Anyone who has visited knows what it’s liked to be “First-timed.” You need to go back again at least once, just so you can gain some perspective and have a somewhat clear head to comprehend what is actually there. Kirk and Kirsten West have managed to recreate the same family spirit and communal vibe at the Big House that existed 30 years ago, and it needs to continue - for so many reasons. For the legacy of the music, the memory of the men who made it, and so that those of us who feel it, live it, and really get it will always have a chance to go back where it all began. If you’ve been there, I don’t have to say any more. If you haven’t, you need to, because you’ll get the Fever, too, and then you’ll understand. There are a lot of worthy causes out there, and people are always raising funds for one thing or another, but if the music of the Allman Brothers has been part of your life’s soundtrack, then it’s a no brainer - support this foundation, and help guarantee that the road will indeed go on forever.

John Lynskey
Hittin’ the Note magazine

 

 

May 25, 2004

Duane and Gregg moved to Daytona Beach in 1958, while my family moved there in 1956 from Tennessee. Duane and I were the same age, with Gregg a year younger. All of us - Duane, Gregg, and me - spent many a day together playing on the beach and going back to either their house or mine to eat tuna fish salad sandwiches with only mayo - no pickles. The other guys that we spent a lot of time with were Neal Hurst (who has passed on), Ronnie Rainey (killed in a car accident), and Robby Brown. We didn’t live far from each other - my family owned a Mom and Pop motel across the street from the beach, and the brothers lived near by until they moved to the house their mother still lives in today. I helped Gregg collect for his paper route because we couldn’t go play until all the work was done; I also remember the nights spent at sleepovers at our motel and dinners eaten at my mother’s dinner table. One summer day our families went on a picnic down at the inlet - we decided to swim across to this small island - only to discover from a fisherman that there were sharks swimming around the area. But we were only kids, and that didn’t scare us. I have many good memories about those childhood times, and will cherish them forever.

It had been about 37 years since I last saw Gregg in person. My wife got us back stage (a birthday surprise for me) at Hi-Fi Buys in 2002 to see him for a few minutes after the concert. That was really great - all too short, however.
I hope the enclosed check will help in your efforts to preserve the Big House for future generations to come, as it should be.

Best Regards always,

Richard Hudson