MARK & LITTLE GENE
meet
THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND
at a
Free Concert at The 'Butterfly'
Audubon Park, New Orleans, La.
Sunday, August 23, 1970


Story by Mark J. Naquin
Edited by John DuBois












I am Mark J. Naquin, born in September of 1959 and live in Thibodaux, La. My daddy sold John Deere
Tractors and equipment, very well known in the sugarcane industry. I always wanted to do what my two older
brothers were doing. I always hung out with people about five years older than me. We went to every
plantation or farm from Myrtle Grove in Belle Chase to New Roads, on both sides of the river hauling farm
equipment. If a tractor didn't run, we would winched it on.

I was running a winch truck at ten years old. When Hurricane Betsy hit in 1965 I was 6 years old. My dad's
company had a brand new GMC 1-ton truck and new welding machine with two 120 volt /30 amp receptacles to
generate power. It was one of a kind in those days. That truck went from house to house powering up freezers
and refrigerators for friends and family. I would roll out the cords and plug them in.If it was far away
from the truck, we would need a heavy duty cord or else it would burn up the motor.

My cousin's name was Eugene Nunez and we called him "Little Gene." Born in July of 1959, he was 100 percent
New Orleans. Not scared of nothing ! At 11, He was a master at fishing. He knew every kind of tackle, bait
and could name every kind of fish and he could captain a boat. He knew the ship channel where we would
go fishing and it seemed to me that he knew almost every inch of New Orleans. No one would mess with him
as he was tall for his age. A good person, he never looked for trouble. All of his good friends went to
Jesuit High school. Little Gene went to St. Anthony School.

I can tell this story like it was almost yesterday. Me and Little Gene were like Duane and Gregg's little
brothers they always wanted but never had. So, around 1967, we started going to New Orleans City Park to set
up Little Gene's friend's band from Jesuit High School. Then after some time, they wanted to go set up near
the Audubon Zoo on the levee. Every Sunday we would go set those guys up. Every year the bands would get
bigger and bigger. Then, by 1969, more than one band would show up and we were really learning more and more
about musical amplifiers and hooking up the band's gear.

On Aug. 23, 1970, Me and Little Gene rode our bikes like normal to 'The Fly' at Audubon Park , the name given
to the building housing the restrooms and concession stand with the butterfly shaped roof. We went straight
to the picnic table next to 'the outlet', sitting and waiting for a band to show up. We would ride our bikes
there in the early morning and would kind of control that one AC outlet that the bands used. We knew who was
plugging into that outlet for sure.

The cops really hassled a lot of people the week before. They never did that before. I think it was the battle
of the bands the week before that prompted that. We were getting on our bikes to leave when a U-Haul truck
pulls up. Two guys got out looking around. I said, "Hey! Are y'all a band.?" The driver said, "yes" . I said,
"Hey the AC outlet is over here". The driver came over to look at the outlet . I told him, "All the bands
set up here." He said, "NO! We want to set up over there in front." I told him, "You will need a good cord."
He told me, "I got a good cord." I told him again, "You need a REAL GOOD cord." He said ,"I got a good cord."
I said, " let me see it." So, he went to the truck and opened the back. Little Gene jumped on the back of the
truck as he was getting the cord. Little Gene said, "Come on Mark, these guys need some help." I told Little
Gene, "OK let me see his cord." As the guy was coming, I could see the cord.

I said "Hey, man you got a GOOD cord." He said, "I told you I had a good cord." I told him, "You got a
DAMN good cord." I said , "Hey what is your name?" "Dickey". "Hey I'm Mark and this is Little Gene. We
help the bands set up around here." Dickey said, " We need some help setting up!"

Dickey was driving the truck. I think the other guy was Joe. So, Little Gene was already in the truck. I had
a hard time getting into the back of this truck. I was small and short. Dickey said. "Y'all get in the truck
and hand everything to us." Dickey and the sound guy put everything on the ground. After everything was out
of the truck, I saw two things with blankets covering them tied up with rope. I said, "You want us to
uncover this?" Dickey said " no, some other guys are coming for that." After everything was on the ground,
I started checking things out.

I said "Little Gene this is INPUT, this is OUTPUT, This is IN, this is OUT, This is ON and OFF. We need
to plug into this" . Dickey and the sound guy sees we know something. Dickey said "Hey Man , we need you
guys with us on the road with us !!". How old are you?" Little Gene said " I just made 11, and Mark is 10."
"What?, 10 and 11? (laughing) We need you on the road !" Then the rest of the guys showed up and they all
told us their names. They were setting up the drums, and there was a set of congas which was neat. They asked
us where we were from. Little Gene said, "I'm from New Orleans and Mark is my cousin from the country." As we
were helping set up, all the guys said, "MAN! We need y'all on the road with us." Dickey said, "tell them
how old y'all are." "10 and 11." " What!?"

Then they started powering up things. Dickey had his guitar working. The drummer was finished setting up.
Dickey plugged his guitar into Duane's amp, but could not get that one working. It made all kinds of bad
noise. So he unplugged his guitar. Then someone said " Hey! They coming!" Dickey jumps into the back of
the truck and uncovers the two big cabinets. I got in the truck and I said, "That's a piano ! I play piano.
I been taking piano lessons for 3 years, we have a piano in our house ". He said "NO, this is not a piano."
I said, "Its like one, and I want to play this thing. I can play this thing!" So here comes the guys.

The guys look into the truck and looked at me. Dickey said , "This is Mark and Little Gene." I said to them
"I want to play this piano, because I been taking lessons for 3 years and have a piano in my house. I never seen a
piano like this and I like the way this thing looks!" So, I got down and grabbed a leg and help them take it down
and put into place. Then, we took the Leslie cabinet down. Then, I got with Gregg and helped set up his B3 organ.

Little Gene went with Duane to set him up. Duane asked Dickey if he was ready, Dickey said,"NO, I can't
get your amp working." "What you mean you can't get it working, you got to get it working!" Duane was pissed
off that Dickey couldn't get his rig working. So, Dickey and Little Gene are helping Duane with his rig, I'm
with Gregg, telling him, "I want to play this thing!". I told my mama, "I was quitting piano to play football,"
but looking at this organ I might keep playing piano. My mama said, "I could only play one. Not both."

So, I'm sitting down on the bench looking at the B3. Then it comes time to start that thing. That blew me
away went he started it up. It didn't want to work. Gregg tells me, "push this pedal down and play it." He
got back on the ground, pushed on some wires and it started working. Man, I was playing it, hitting some notes,
and playing a few things. Gregg sits next to me and started setting the drawbars. I said, "Gregg, I want to
sit here when you play so I can see everything you're doing." He didn't say anything. Then, he gets up
and was putting a microphone into the Leslie cabinet. I was just playing away. By that time, I heard Duane
say, "get me my black box." I looked up and said,"Little Gene, get the black box in the truck." So I got up
off of the B3 and went to help Little Gene with Duane's rig. Little Gene got down and opened the box, pulling
out some new wires. Dickey said, "Man, we need Little Gene and Mark on the road with us." Duane said, "OK."

Dickey said, "tell him how old y'all are!" "Little Gene said, "I am 11 and Mark is 10." So we hooked the
first wire in. It still had a bad scratchy sound. So, Duane tells us to "change another wire." I'm telling
Little Gene, he needs to plug into the input, as he was using the output. Duane, said, "why do they call
you Little Gene?", He tells him, "because my daddy is Big Gene and I'm Little Gene, and Mark is my cousin
from the country, and stays for the summer and we go fishing all summer". Gregg, from the back side said,
"We like fishing", Duane said "yes, we love fishing." I asked Gregg, "Where y'all from?" "Florida, but we
moved to California for a few years and now we back in Florida". I said ,"yes there must be good fishing
in Florida",All the while we talking, we're moving and hooking wires. We hook the second wire and same
thing, same noise. Little Gene said , "Yes, Mark caught a Shark yesterday and he wanted to take it home
to clean it and eat it!" Laughing, Duane said "Mark wanted to eat the shark!" I said, "Man we catch
two fish at a time." Gregg said, "two fish at a time!" Duane asked, How'd you catch two fish at a time?"
I said, "We use a double shad rig!" Gregg said, "double shad rig! Never heard of that !"

So, me and Little Gene was trying to explain what a double shad rig was, and still hurrying to get Duane's
rig working right. We grabbed the third and last wire in the box. All the wires were long. Duane said,
"Man we want to go fishing with y'all and we will be back in two weeks." Little Gene said "OK". Duane said,
"How we going to find y'all. Little Gene said! "No Problem!" Stop any police officer and asked where does
Big Gene live? All the police know our house because Big Gene and Nellie, my mom raised all the K-9 dogs
for the police. Duane said "Big Gene has K-9 dogs ?" Little Gene said "Yes, and they are the best drug
sniffing dogs. All of the police want our dogs." Duane said (laughing), "The best drug sniffing dogs!"
"Yes!" Right about that time we plugged in the last wire and Duane's rig was now ready.
The last wire was the bad one.

When Little Gene got through talking, I would tell Duane, "I want to play a song." He didn't say anything.
Greg had gotten up from the B3 while me and Little Gene were still hooking up the wires and now everyone
else in the band was ready to go. So all the members are into a conversation. Duane's rig is ready, he looks
up at me and said, "OK Mark, you said you want to play a song. Go play a song." "For Sure!!" Duane was
the leader of this band and he would let you know Gregg was his little Brother. Greg was not going to tell
me to play a song. He knew only Duane can let that happen. Duane said, "lets hear your song Mark !" I said,
"Man maybe y'all not going to like my song." "Go play your song, you told us you want to play a song. We want
to hear it !" I said "OK". Duane took off his guitar and stood in front the B3 with Gregg. I hit a few notes,
pressed the pedal to check the sound. I'm thinking about what to play. I didn't want to mess up. I said
to myself if I do the Marine Hymn, I know it note for note, and not going to it mess up. I always said that I
had wanted to join the Marines when I turned 18 years old and finished high school. So I played the Marine
Hymn, all seven verses. I hit every note perfect, and ended it slowly. With Gregg to the right, Duane in the
center and Joe to the left they just smiled ear to ear. Duane says "Mark that was Great !", turns around and
makes everyone cheer me on. Gregg said, "Great Job Mark, That was beautiful !" Man they made me feel
like a King ! But right after that, Joe said, " We've got to move, we're running Late ! "

After the cheering was over, Duane said "let's go, we're ready." Gregg comes over to the B3 and I'm sitting
down on the bench. I said "I want to sit right here next to you, so I can see everything you're doing,
I am not moving." He said, "Mark, you cannot sit here." "No, I'm not going to be in your way." Gregg goes
to find a box and puts it right next to him to the left side and says, " Sit here right next to me and
you can see everything." I said "OK". So, Little Gene said, "Mark, I'm sitting on this box right in front
of Duane." Duane said, "Little Gene you can't sit there. Get in front of Mark." So, I'm pissed off, Little Gene
blocked my view. In the picture where you can only see the top of my head, I was not happy at that point.
So, they started playing, maybe they played two songs back to back. When they stopped for a minute before
the next song, Little Gene tells Duane how great he is. Little Gene said, "Mark, I'm putting my box right
in front of Duane, I have to see good." Duane looks at little Gene, I'm thinking he will tell him something,
turns around fixing his amp and didn't say nothing. I hurry and put my box next to Little Gene right in
front of Duane. Duane turns around looks at us smiles and didn't tell us to move. At that point, it hit me!
I got up, went right in front and grabbed onto the B3 and said, "Gregg, you didn't tell me you can sing!
Gregg you can sing. You can sing!!" Gregg looked at me and smiles ... He knew I really meant it too. So, they
maybe started with the third song, Duane playing the slide, Gregg singing and singing. I never heard anyone
sing like that. Little Gene went crazy on Duane's slide playing. As they were finishing the song, Little Gene
said " Duane, y'all got to stop." He points behind their backs. "That rain will be here in 5 minutes." Duane
looked around and I still remember him unplugging his guitar and the loud 'POP' when he unplugged it. He said
"We have to stop!" Man, I wanted to hear more and everyone else did too .

So, the first thing going into the truck was the B3, I grab one leg! Gregg said "Mark, you're too small,
so, let the bigger guys help with this." Duane said, "Mark, roll up the wires and put them in the black box."
Dickey said, "Little Gene, get into the truck, you know where everything goes, you just took everything out."
Little Gene got into the truck and everybody handed him everything on the rear of the truck. After I
finished putting the cables into the black box, Duane said, "Mark roll up all the cables and put them into
this larger box." I was rolling cables as fast as I could. Everyone was working really fast and Duane said,
"Good Job Mark, Hurry." I rolled up all of the cables. Then the drops, big drops started hitting us. Duane
was going crazy that nothing got wet! The box with all the wires was the last box into the truck. Everybody
ran to their cars. Me, Duane, Dickey, Joe, Gregg, and the girl and the guy in the picture next to
Gregg ran under the 'fly' and sat on the cement picnic tables. Joe tells me, " Mark, your song was great !
I was in the Marines. Mark, Going into the Marines made me a better man. " I said, " I want to go into the
Marines." Joe said, that's good, but remember the Army, Navy or Air Force are also good, but the Marines are great !"
I asked Joe, "How long you been working with the band?" Right away, Gregg tells me, "Mark, Joe owns the band."
Duane said, "Yes, Joe owns the band." I said, what you mean, Joe owns the band? "He owns the band!" Duane said!
"Joe pays us." Gregg tells me, "Mark, when we don't make any money Joe pays us." I Asked Joe, "Where do you get this
money?" Joe tells me," I saved some money in the Marines, and when the band needs money I take it out of my savings."

The only place the rain didn't hit was on the
covered tables. As Little Gene was closing the rear door on the truck, it was raining very, very hard. Little Gene was
soaking wet. After he closed the door, he raised his arms like Tarzan. Duane said , "He's Tarzan!" Then he
came to sit with us as well. Duane said, "We need y'all on the road with us." Dickey and Joe said
"any time." Duane said, "Y'all going to have to be at least 15 years old. Maybe in 5 years!" I said, "Y'all
would let us come on the road at 15 ?" Duane looks at me straight in the eyes and says, "No, No man, y'all
are going to have to be 18, nothing less. I can't let y'all come on the road at 15." But I knew we were too
young to go on the road at 15. The great feeling was, there was a lot of hustling and teamwork and
this was the reason that nothing got wet.

Duane goes, "anyone have a cigarette?" The girl said "I do." She gave him a cigarette. She asked Gregg if
he wanted one, he said, "I'm trying to quit, No." We talked more about going fishing in two weeks. The girl
had a pen and paper. We gave Duane Nellie's phone number. Gregg and Duane told me how great a job I did
playing my song. I said, "y'all just telling me that." About that time, Gregg said, "give me a cigarette,
one is not going to hurt me." So, he smoked one. I told them, "I smoked a cigarette one time and I threw up
and I don't want none anymore". Gregg said, "don't start, it's very hard to stop." Well the rain had just
about stopped now. They told us they would call us to go fishing in two weeks. Duane shook our hands, Gregg
shook our hands and said "bye." As they walked away about 25 or 30 feet, Gregg turned around and came back
to me, shakes my hand again and said "Mark! Your song was beautiful and I think you should keep up with
your piano. Keep taking your lessons." Then he turned around and left.

We were so very happy riding our bikes home that day!

So, we set it up with Uncle Gene to take Gregg and Duane fishing and he agreed. I had to beg my mom to let
me stay for 2 more weeks. The first week we cleaned up everything on the boat, getting everything ready.
Little Gene put me in charge of getting ready Gregg's fishing pole with a double shad rig. Little Gene
said, "Mark I'm going to fix Duane's pole up with a double shad rig with some special spinners and stopper
on his line, guaranteed to catch!" He had Duane by far, the best pole on the boat. The second week we didn't
go anywhere. We just stayed by the telephone. When the phone would ring, we jumped!!

They never called...

When ever Little Gene could, he tried to find them. We looked for 2 years. One day Little Gene said,
"Mark they are not coming back." 1971 and 1972 were the last two years I spent my summers in New Orleans on Banks
Street. If we knew about the warehouse then, we would have found them. We probably would have worked setting
up bands. As time went by, we forgot their names. I would ask Little Gene, "What were their names?" and
we couldn't remember. I started going to the warehouse when I was 15. I knew my way around New Orleans
and I would drive the car every time. I do remember setting up that day in the park and doing everything,
but I never realized it was the famous Allman Brothers that played. We never helped another band set up
anymore after that. No other band had interested us.


On Aug. 23, 2019, as I finished eating lunch, I saw a post on my phone. It read, "49 years ago
today history was made!" Also, there was a picture (see below) at 'The Fly' in Audubon Park that showed
Little Gene sitting in a white shirt and me (just the top of my head), with Gregg, Duane and Dickey.

Later I saw a picture of a soldier from WWII on the internet. It was a highly decorated war hero that saw
a lot of action and earned many medals in WWII. Sadly, my brother passed away 5 years after serving in
Desert Storm due to secret chemical warfare. So this picture really caught my attention.

I started reading further and it said this was a picture of 2nd LT. Willis Turner Allman, the father of
Duane and Gregg Allman, A war hero. He was shot and killed by a person he gave a ride home to from a bar,
someone he knew. At the time, Duane was 3 years old and Gregg was 2 years old. That being said, they never really
knew their daddy. It was a sad story. This brings to my mind, thinking back, when I played the Marine Hymn, it
gave so much joy to Duane and Gregg. If only we had a picture of their faces at that moment in time, it was a
special moment for them and I. I didn't know whether their daddy was Army or Marine. If it were the Marines,
that would be crazy!! I would like to know.

Mark J. Naquin




photos by Neil Burgard














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