Laid Back Festival features a Georgia-heavy lineup, including Atlanta singer-songwriter Michelle Malone

We spoke with Malone about performing in Gregg Allman’s second annual fest
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Michelle Malone
Michelle Malone will perform during Gregg Allman’s Laid Back Fest

Photograph courtesy of LiveNation

Gregg Allman has not been the most prolific solo artist; he put out just three albums between 1977 and 2011. Yet in the past five years, the 68-year-old has had a spurt of creative productivity. In 2011 he released Low Country Blues, produced by T Bone Burnett, followed by a live album in 2015. Now Allman has added festival producer to his resume with the second annual Laid Back Festival, which kicks off in Atlanta on May 7. (Update 4/22/16: The Atlanta date has been postponed to October 29.)

Joining Allman onstage is a Georgia-heavy lineup that includes Blackberry Smoke, Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band, the Kevn Kinney Band, and Michelle Malone, who first met Allman when they performed together at a tribute to Georgia music in 2014. “It’s going to be like coming home, everyone in one place,” says Malone. “Plus, who doesn’t revere Gregg Allman?”

We asked Malone about performing at Laid Back Festival and what’s in the works for 2016.

How did your Laid Back appearance come about?
When Gregg and I sang together at Symphony Hall in 2014 [the musicians dueted on the Otis Redding classic “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” as part of a tribute to Georgia music], that started a bit of a relationship. I’ve played with Chuck Leavell (former keyboardist/pianist for the Allman Brothers and, for the past 34 years, for The Rolling Stones) a few times. It puts you in that circle. So when I found out about the festival, I tossed my hat in the ring.

You’ve said that night at Symphony Hall was one of the highlights of your career.
I’m still stunned and amazed by his talent, his voice, and his soul. The last time he played Symphony Hall with his band, I was at the show. I’m a fan.

Last year was a strong year for you, with the release of a new album and the Georgia Music Award for Best Female Rock. What’s coming up in 2016?
Last year was good. I toured a lot of sheds last summer with Indigo Girls. I just want to play music, whether it’s someone’s living room or clubs or whatever.

Right now we’re working on a music program where we hope to mentor middle school kids and help them get instruments and supplies. I’ve had so much support during my journey, including from Chuck and Gregg. I see this as a circle of gratitude, one way to inspire others while we also inspire ourselves.

A version of this article originally appeared in our May 2016 issue.

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