An Allman Brothers Band survivor comes to Taos

Taos has long been known as a town that provides a haven for those who have made their mark on the world and are seeking a simpler, more low-key life: a place where they can feel free to pursue their other interests, away from the glare of paparazzi and the pressures of fame.

The latest arrival is David “Rook” Goldflies, longtime bass player for the Allman Brothers Band, then with A Brothers Revival (a legacy band of Allman Brothers alumni), the Panama City Symphony Orchestra with David Ott, and his own ensemble called GoldFlēce.

We visited him at his new home, somewhere past the middle of nowhere out on the mesa — chosen for its phenomenal views and the dark skies needed for one of his many interests, astrophotography.

“Ever since I toured the American West with the Allman Brothers Band back in the late ’70s and early ’80s, I knew I’d like to experience living there at some point in my life,” Goldflies told us. “I’ve gotten older, and with the loss of musicians and friends due to COVID-19, it seemed like there was no time like the present to pursue that dream of living out West. Visiting New Mexico in search of dark skies, I was taken with the natural beauty of the desert and the mountains. I’ve been writing a lot of music, and I felt a connection to creativity in the wide-open spaces of New Mexico. Playing electric and upright bass, electric violin and guitar, I think there will be many creative opportunities in Taos!”

His kitchen table is entirely covered with telephoto lenses. Another room contains a jumble of recording equipment and another passion, computers. “It’s been fun — my interests are infinite, though I’m not — I’ve got a deadline,” he laughed.

His nickname, “Rook,” was given to him by guitarist Danny Toler, who recruited him for the Allman Brothers out of the roadside club where he was working, and called out, “Welcome aboard, rookie!” The name stuck through the years.

“Even though it was long ago, playing with the Allman Brothers Band has been one of the defining events of my life. Playing with the band’s original four members, Greg Allman, Dickey Betts, Jaimoe and Butch Trucks, taught me to play with technical proficiency paired with emotional intensity. The band’s blues-based compositions never cease to amaze me as I revisit them with one of my current projects, A Brothers Revival, an Allman Brothers Legacy group. Working with stars like Dickey Betts and Greg Allman was a wild experience for a 22-year-old bass player. We did gigs like Saturday Night Live, Red Rocks Amphitheater, the Charlie Daniels Volunteer Jam, and toured with Lynyrd Skynard, Marshall Tucker, the Dixie Dregs, and many more. Meeting all those wonderful musicians was inspiring, to say the least. Yet, given the nature of music, it always comes down to the moment at hand. The moments I shared sitting on a motel room bed with my bass jamming with Dickey Betts were some of the most musically formative moments of my life.”

He spoke of the genesis of A Brothers Revival.

“It was the brainchild of my agent Rich Goldberg. Out of the blue, my phone rang about two years ago, and this energetic man said, ‘Rook, how would you like to tour playing the music of the Allman Brothers Band?’ At the time, I was playing in my original southern rock group, The Allman Goldflies Band with bluesman Gary Allman, promoting our first album, Second Chance. I thought it would be great to play the Brothers music again if, and only if, we captured the band’s original feel and intensity. No easy task. And that is what hooked me. I like a good musical challenge. It is the only way I know of to become a better musician — be challenged! I’m very fortunate to have brought a great musician, Mike Kach, into the group on vocals and keys. Mike has toured for years with Dickey Betts, and we both joke we are graduates of the Dickey Betts school of rock and roll. COVID shut us down last year, but we are looking to get started back on the road in the northeast in May. Of course, I can’t wait to bring the group out west once we can get the danger of COVID behind us.”

And how has he maintained his sanity and productivity during quarantine?

“Once the lockdown began in Florida, I cleaned my house. I think everyone did. Eventually, I developed an interest in looking at the sky through a telescope. One thing led to another, and I have been fortunate to take images of nebulae and galaxies through my ’scopes. Astrophotography is quite a technical challenge, but the payoff is the sense of connection to the universe. I’ve also been fortunate to play double bass in two symphony orchestras for many years. I started playing upright bass at the late age of 49. The '20-'21 season has kept me busy the last four months playing Mendelssohn, Bach, Beethoven, Respighi and more. I’m fortunate that all of my interests, like music and astrophotography, are infinite. I’ll never be done. I like that!”

He talked excitedly about his upcoming projects.

“I’m currently in the final stages of a new album called ‘Cocoa, Brown, and Rust’ by Gold Flēce. The name came to me years ago and I carried it around for years. I wrote eight songs in two weeks, and that never happens. This was part of the inspiration for it.” He showed us a fascinating piece of driftwood that resembled an island with shorelines, mountain ranges and cities, and contained the three title colors. “This music is a bit of a departure for me in that I am singing and playing acoustic guitar. I’m bringing a few buddies in on some instruments, and it seems ‘Cocoa, Brown, and Rust’ is just organically developing on its own. I hope to have it released by late February or early March.”

Although new to Taos, Goldflies is already picking up on how to talk like a local. “Watch out for the mud when you’re pulling out,” he calls amiably from the doorway as we’re leaving. “Careful of those plants there, they’ll stick you. Did I mention I love it here? God, it’s beautiful!”

FYI: For more information, visit goldflece.com

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