Devon Allman, son of Gregg Allman, and Duane Betts, son of Dickey Betts, have teamed up to create The Allman Betts Band.
The ABB offspring recently announced the new band, which will also include Berry Oakley Jr. (son of original Allman Brothers Band bassist Berry Oakley), slide guitarist Johnny Stachela, and DAP percussionists R. Scott Bryan (Sheryl Crow), John Lum, and John Ginty on the B-3 Hammond.
The band rebranding was paired with the news of a forthcoming album, produced by Matt Ross-Spang (Jason Isbell, Margo Price, John Prine and Elvis Presley) and due out in the spring of 2019, and a world tour that will feature “new music, songs from their solo projects and classic Allman Brothers and Gregg Allman tunes in honor of the 50th anniversary of The Allman Brothers Band.”
The Allman Betts Band tour includes a stop at the Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest set for April 5-14, in Reading, Pa. The band will perform Sunday, April 7, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Grand Ballroom at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are on sale now.
Prior to joining forces, the Devon Allman Project and Duane Betts Band toured extensively together throughout the year, with the latter band opening. It was during that collaborative tour that the idea of combining bands came together.
Live For Live Music contributor Brennan Carley caught up with the Devon and Duane to discuss the new band, album, and tour.
Brennan Carley: You have been touring together with your own separate bands this year, and Duane, you just put out a solo EP (Sketches of American Music). Why form a new band now?
Duane Betts: We’ve talked about doing music together for a long time now, but we were both busy. It just came to be time when it would be more special to do it now. We’ve been doing the tour, I’ve been opening up the show. I do about a 40-minute set and then Devon takes the stage, and then we play together a lot of his set.
Devon Allman: It was really a natural progression. Duane and I have known each other since ’89, and we always talked about doing some kind of work together. We didn’t really know to what capacity, we just knew we liked jamming together and hanging out and we go so far back. I lost both parents inside four and a half or five months. And I took a couple of months off initially to kind of deal with the shock of losing my mom. Then, as I’m about to go back out on tour, my dad passed, and that was just a double whammy, and it took a lot out of me. I took a whole year off.
I saw you play City Winery for the Gregg Allman tribute show. I could tell that was tough.
Devon Allman: Yeah, that was a little fresh, but I certainly wanted to make an appearance and do what I could. Once I got through the initial phase of grieving and my mind started to go back to work and music, I was trying to think of a way to come back out in a bigger fashion. That actually meant a physically bigger band, which I had been wanting to do for a while, and I knew Duane was done with his stint in the band Dawes. He was freed up and was working on his own music, and he had been wanting to write his own tunes, as he should, so it just hit me, this is perfect timing.
His dad is retired, my dad is gone. Why don’t we join forces, he can play his music I can play mine, yada, yada, yada. And man, it worked like a champ. We had a really wonderful year, we made a lot of people happy. It was amazing to see grown-ass men in tears when we played “Dreams”. It was truly amazing. And so, we talked about trying to write some tunes and I told him, it’s got to be organic. Of course, it looks good on paper, and it’s selling tickets. But to truly do something together it has to have the chemistry. If we would have sat down and tried to write and it just didn’t click, then you and I probably wouldn’t be having this conversation.
But it did click, and we wrote a whole record and recording it now at Muscle Shoals. Matt Ross-Spang is the producer for the record. We’re really excited to work with him. I go back years with Matt. I did a PBS special that was filmed at Sun Studios and he was the engineer, and we hit it off, and I always wanted to work with him. I was really grateful he was available, and we are going to give it hell.
Duane Betts: Matt’s done Jason Isbell and Margo Price and other great artists. Once Devon and I started talking about it, it really comforted me to know that we were on the same page. Everything he said, we agreed with, and that was what I was hoping to hear. And I hope that he felt the same way about what I was saying. We both got on the same page rather quickly.
Devon, you did some great work with Tom Hambridge that obviously seems to have clicked. What was the decision to go with Matt versus Tom on this album?
Devon Allman: Well, it’s never anything against a producer, and Tom Hambridge was really great for what I was doing at the time, which was more of a blues rock, guitar-heavy kind of record. Tom is one of my best friends in the world, he’s amazing. There were several names in the hat for it, but this music is really more of an Americana record. And Matt Ross-Spang is really leading the charge with that style of music. So certainly, nothing to slight Tom. He could make an amazing record for anyone. But, I also like to change it up. I learn from producers, I’m a producer myself. I’m launching my own label in the spring that will be producing the artists that I signed. I love learning from producers. I’ve gotten to work with some really legendary producers from Jim Gaines to Tom Hambridge to the cats at Ardent Studios in Memphis. I worked with almost all of them, and every time I learn a new bag of tricks, it’s really rewarding. I look forward to continuing my production education, for sure.
You’ve known each other since 1989. When and how did Berry Oakley Jr. come into the mix?
Devon Allman: I actually hung out with Berry first. Berry was closer to my age. Back then, age seemed to be so much more of a bigger deal. I was 17, I think Berry was 16. I think Duane was 12 or 11 even, so we were kind of the badass teenagers and he was still kind of the punk kid. But obviously, we loved him. I just hung out with Berry more because we had more in common, and we were chasing chicks.
You jammed a lot together, but it sounds like a much more song-oriented kind of an approach than a jamming kind of an approach on this project.
Devon Allman: No, absolutely. We were in the back of the bus with two acoustics. We flew in Stoll Vaughan, he’s worked with [John] Mellencamp. He’s an amazing songwriter out of Los Angeles. And he co-wrote, I think, all of Duane’s EP, Sketches of American Music. When I heard that, I was like, ‘man, we gotta get that guy to work with the two of us, to kind of be a mediator.’
I don’t have a ton of experience songwriting in the round. I always figured that would be just a little bit too much, but it proved to be perfect because Stoll was really good at making us chase down the song. If he heard a riff of mine or a riff of Duane’s or a melody of one of ours, he would champion the process and go “no, no, no, keep going”, and he proved to be invaluable. We flew him out three times over the summer. He was a regular on the tour bus and we did a lot of writing in hotels, backstage, and it was always very organic—just three acoustic guitars and a pad of paper. We hammered out over a dozen songs.
Is it all material you wrote together or did you write some songs individually and some songs together?
Duane Betts: There are a few songs in the catalog that were brought in from previous writing sessions, either Devon’s songs or my songs, but the majority of the songs were songs that the three of us—Devon, myself and Stol—sat down and wrote together during this tour.
There’s a story that runs through all the songs, and right now we’re just trying to narrow it down. Any time you make a record, you have to just get the right group of songs that complement each other properly and that have a story running through them all. We don’t know exactly what songs will be on [the record], but we have a good idea. A lot of times, there’s a song written in the bottom of the ninth inning, so to speak, that makes it. It’s the same spirit of music that I come from, that we all come from, in this family of musicians. I don’t mean the Allman Brothers family; I mean people who play the music that we play—free-flowing music that makes people feel good in the live environment, festival outdoors music. We’re really excited about it.
So, you’re going to take that into the into the studio and work from there?
Devon Allman: Yeah, we debuted a couple of the songs already onstage, just to test the waters, and the response was overwhelming. People really liked the new material. We did some iPad demos and things like that, so we have essentially a blueprint of where we want to take it. It’s starting to kind of have a life of its own in our mind. You can tell how it’s going on play out, and I think everyone’s really going to like it.
You said the new album is going to be more Americana. How is the band and the music different from some of the other material you’ve done?
Devon Allman: I think there have always been some subtle flourishes of Americana in my work. I think there’s one or two on each record that you could consider in that genre. I think the main difference now is, we’re veterans. We’re a little longer in the tooth, we’re older and wiser and, we’re at our peak. I think that when you get to that place in your career, as a musician, you’re certainly more confident and you have more conviction in your self-editing, your songwriting, your ability to trim the fat, get right to best part of the song. There’s not any overplaying going on, or arrangements that stretch all over the place. It’s very concise music. It’s with a purpose. We really want people to have that old-time feeling that they had when they would buy a vinyl record, where they really would just fall in love with an album and that’s what we’re trying to deliver to the good people with this one.
Devon, how much did Duane and his EP with Stoll have to do with you recent direction towards Americana music? How much of it is a continuation of Sketches of American Music, and how much of it draws on the Devon Allman Project?
Devon Allman: Honeytribe was a pretty loud rock jam band, and Royal Southern Brotherhood had its moments of rock too. My first solo record, Turquoise, was much quieter and it was much more song-based, so I’ve already kind of been down that road. Then I made a couple records that were more blues-based and then more rock-based, but I’ve always had a soft spot for singer/songwriter style music—so I wouldn’t say Duane influenced me, but he got me back on that path. I really think the blueprint for this record is The Band, like Levon Helm and Robbie Robertson’s The Band, and Derek and the Dominos Layla record. It’s still kind of jammy, and it still kind of has this lean towards Nashville. It’s kind of an amalgam of all of those things which have certainly been feathers in our caps for years and years, and that’s the music that we hold near and dear to our hearts
Duane Betts: We just want to keep it really honest through traditional, classic, timeless music. Rock and Roll, it has that spirit that I was talking about like bands like the Allman Brothers or The Band. It’s not heavy blues rock. You’ll just have to wait and listen I guess. When you hear it, you’ll get it, and if we do it justice, it will be timeless. I’m confident we’ve done really good work, and it will come out the way we want it to come out.
Between the two of you and the bands you’ve played with, you’ve got such an amazing group of musicians and artists that you could bring in. How did you select who is going to be in the band, and what do they all bring to the mix?
Devon Allman: We are using the two drummers that we used all year in the Devon Allman project. And we got Johnny Stachela on slide guitar, Berry Oakley holding down the bass, me and Duane on guitar and vocals. It’s an exciting band.
Duane Betts: We’ve all gotten used to playing together and we’ve had time to work up a few of these newer songs and play them in the live show. Devon and I talked about it and he had a guitar player that he has in the Devon Allman Project but I also brought my guitar player that I play with in Los Angeles, Johnny Stachela. We wanted to have Johnny in the band because he plays really good slide.
Devon Allman: Johnny, I think I’ve known Johnny 10 years or better. He came down to see me play in L.A. and ended up sitting in, and I was like wow man you’re a great slide player. Lo and behold, many years later, Duane said “can I bring my slide player on the tour” and I’m like “yeah man, who’s your slide player?” And he goes “Johnny Stachela, and I’m like “Jesus, I’ve known Johnny forever man, of course that would be rad, and he’s a great hang.”
Duane Betts: On bass we really wanted Berry Oakley to play with us because he’s a very good friend of ours and a brother, so we reached out to him and he was into it. Everybody’s really good. Just being on tour with the guys that we’ve been on tour with Devon’s band, and with Johnny, they’re a real pleasure to work with. They’re all very professional.
Devon Allman: There’s a bunch of pissed-off bands in St. Louis because I raided everyone. I stole the best cats and said “let’s go, let’s go tour the world.” Berry is obviously in the band because we all go back so far and he’s a wonderful bass player. We kept the drummers because we had already done so much work with them and it’s such a crucial part of the band. I mean, everything is based on the feel.
And these cats are so locked-in together and so locked-in with us and they know the material so well. We love them and they’re such sweethearts, just really wonderful guys so it was a no-brainer to keep them. You’ve got to be able to play or you’re not in the club, but you really got to be able to hang, and be a bro and not be negative, not have drama or drug problems. We’ve gotta live together, man, and we work together and you gotta be in a bus together night after night for a year or better. It really kind of comes down to the person because playing is a given. You’ve got to be a good player.
With three kick-ass guitar players, how are you going to share the guitar duties?
Duane Betts: There would be no need for me to play any slide, but I might play a little here and there. I like to. I’m not nearly as good as he is, but I don’t want to just let it go and not pursue it. But I’m fine with somebody that is ahead of me. It’s not like everybody’s gonna play a guitar solo every song, and I think if Devon is singing a song he can play acoustic or play rhythm and we’ll give him some chances to play some solos, but it’s got to fit the song. It’s really about that and everybody understands that, so if something is more fitting for the song then that’s what it’s going to be.
You have both been singing with your solo bands. Are you going to share the lead singing role?
Duane Betts: Devon will probably sing a little more than I will, but I’ll definitely do a few tunes and then we’ll probably have a song where we both sing, where we trade off, each take a verse, or just trade lines. There’s one song that we wrote that trades lines. We’re singing back and forth to each other, like a duet.
Chuck Leavell is going to be sitting in on the record as well. How did that come about, and what are you looking for from Chuck?
Duane Betts: Chuck’s just the sweetest guy and he’s been a friend of our families for a long time. We played with him recently in Nashville. We played at the Charlie Daniels Volunteer Jam. Chuck was there on keys and it was really cool. We asked him, he said yes, so we’ll take it. That was the first person we thought of. He’s a Rolling Stone, you know?
Devon Allman: We respect Chuck immensely. I know that he’s going to make something really gorgeous on the record, there’s just no doubt. Peter Levin was actually supposed to join the Allman Betts Band for next year. It sucks, but it is the way of life. He is newly married, and he wants to enjoy being a newlywed, and he just relocated to Nashville, so if you’re Peter Levin and all of a sudden, you’re married, all of a sudden you moved to a brand-new town and a brand new state, you probably want to enjoy that for a while. I don’t blame him at all. We’re going to miss him because he’s such a wonderful hang and we’re working on who’s going to fill in the B3 slot literally right now. I’m pretty sure I know who we have, and I’m extremely excited about it but I can’t really say yet because we’re trying to tie up some loose ends.
You said you are recording in Muscle Shoals. I know you give a lot of attention to where you record, and you went to Chicago to do the blues stuff and to soak up that Chicago electric blues vibe. What are you looking to get out of Muscle Shoals?
Devon Allman: I went through a tour of the place a couple years back and they were talking to me about recording there, and just knowing what’s been recorded there is pretty mind-blowing for any music fans. “Brown Sugar”, man! Damn! Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “That Smell” and Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll”! It’s just a magical little vibey spot. It’s in the middle of nowhere, so you can’t get into any trouble, there’s no distractions. We can get there and get to work. One of the coolest things about the session is we’re going to record everything to 2-inch tape with no bouncing to digital. No bouncing to Pro Tools. Not even for editing, not even for vocals. This is going to be truly analog. If you buy the vinyl record, it will be analog recording, analog mixing, analog mastering. It will be “AAA” on the back of that record, which we’re really stoked about. Because it’s been a while. I know this band is good enough to pull it off.
Are you going to use any of the local talent from Muscle Shoals?
Duane Betts: It depends what the song needs. We have our band. We might just go down there and work out a song at a time. We have about a week and we’ll do what we can in that week and go one at a time. If a song needs background singers with some girls or something, I could see that happening. We’re gonna keep the special guests to a minimum. If there’s a song that needs pedal steel, maybe we’ll hire somebody. But we aren’t focused on guests. It’s just Chuck, is what I’m saying.
Duane, you’ve recorded some of your dad’s material. How did that come about?
Duane Betts: I did “California Blues” on the EP. I thought that would be cool because I spent a good deal of my life out here [in California] and I spent a good deal on my life down in Florida, and so it kind of has that story of someone being out here and wanting to go back home, right? Not a lot of people know the song. I don’t want to cover one of my dad songs where everybody knows it’s my dad’s. I let people figure that stuff out on their own time and not just put it out there like, “hey, guess who my dad is?” Everybody finds out on their own, so you don’t have to do that. It was a friend of mine’s idea. I got more enthusiastic about it the more I thought about it, and finally I was just like, “let’s do that.”
Can we expect any covers on the album?
Devon Allman: I don’t want to reveal everything because we actually have some really cool tricks up our sleeves. We have some really great surprises for the record, so I’ll just leave it at that.
Duane, your dad was influenced by a lot of the Chicago blues guys, specifically, jazz and western swing. How much did you listen to that music?
Duane Betts: My dad played a lot of Robert Johnson around the house. That’s probably his favorite as far as the Delta Blues players. As far as his acoustic playing, he would always play Robert Johnson tunes, a lot of Hank Williams. For me, the Chicago blues stuff—I love B.B. King, Freddie King, Albert King… the three Kings. Jimmy Rodgers was a huge influence on a lot of people. Bob Dylan did a tribute to Jimmie Rodgers and he asked some of his friends to contribute a track, to pick a song with Jimmie Rodgers, and cover it for the record. He asked my dad to do a song. I forgot which tune it was, but I was fortunate enough to play acoustic guitar on that track. It’s on Bob Dylan’s tribute to Jimmie Rodgers. There’s a few really great artists on that compilation. I just played acoustic rhythm guitar, I strummed some chords. I must have been 16 years old or something, it was pretty cool. [The song was “Waiting For a Train” from the album The Songs Of Jimmie Rodgers – A Tribute]
Duane, how does that music influence you’re playing today and in this new project?
Duane Betts: Everything that I’ve heard influences me. I’ve listened to a lot of guitar players. People like Mark Knopfler are huge influences even though I don’t really play a lot like that. I just think he epitomizes taste and style. I love players like that, as well as the Texas blues players like Freddie King. I love Jerry Garcia. I love Jimmy Page. I’ve always heard music around the house, my dad playing records and playing guitar when I get home from school, and at certain parties that we would have out at my grandmother’s house, after dinner having some guitars out and hearing people play.
Devon, I know you’ve gone back to a lot of the 1950s Chicago blues guys. You’re a big Buddy Guy fan, and you’re on the board of the National Blues Museum. How has the blues influenced you?
Devon Allman: Oh, there’s gold in them thar hills! I like all blues, man. It can be Chicago style or it could be more the Delta acoustic. I love the hill country shit from Northern Mississippi that really had a renaissance in the 90s with T-Model Ford, Junior Kimbrough. And all these cats were amazing. There’s always gonna be that influence in our music. That’s the core of the equation right there.
You grew up listening to the Beatles and Kiss and the Cure and the Smiths and Metallica and so on. What made you pivot more to the blues and Americana?
Devon Allman: You nailed me, man, that’s a massive part of what I grew up on and what I still enjoy today. But oddly enough, I think the common misconception is that I grew up backstage and my dad turned me on to B.B. King and all this stuff, but I didn’t really meet him until I was 16 years old. I believe I was 13 and I had a copy—I can’t remember if it was Smash Hits or Greatest Hits or what, but it was Jimi Hendrix, and I love Hendrix. I thought he was just an alien. That record had “Red House”, and that was the doorway into blues for me. Hearing Hendrix play “Red House”, I thought wait, “this is darker and sexier and fucking cooler and I’ve got to get into this.”
I looked up Hendrix and I looked up who he was and who he was into. That’s when I really discovered Muddy Waters and B.B. King and Buddy Guy, Robert Johnson and Howlin’ Wolf, and the list goes on. I did my homework and still to this day, I love blues but I also love heavy metal and I love true alternative music from the 80s when it was alternative music and all kinds. I really dig Nigerian jazz. There’s a bunch of jazz from Africa that I’m way into. You keep the palette pretty varied so that when you go to tap into the well it’s not just one source. It makes it a more enticing sauce.
Duane, at one point you were listening to Run DMC, Van Halen, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins…
Duane Betts: That was when I was in first grade. Run DMC and Beastie Boys and Van Halen and stuff. Shortly after that, I was listening to Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, so it didn’t take me long to get to classic rock. I was taught where it all came from. The first thing that my dad taught me on the guitar was 12-bar blues. And he made it pretty clear. Well, this is where everything that you hear comes from. That’s what I was always taught. During that time that I was into Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins, I was a huge Billy Corgan fan, and I still am a big fan of his writing. I think he’s really talented. But during that same time, as far as my guitar playing, I worshipped Stevie Ray Vaughan. There was a lot of different stuff going on in the early 90s, as a kid to sponge off of. You had the grunge stuff. You had retro stuff like the Black Crowes, Lenny Kravitz. I really thought the Black Crowes were a great rock and roll band. That was a really exciting time to come up and be listening to records, learning stuff off the stereo and just sitting in front of the speakers for hours, trying to figure out new stuff.
Whether it’s Billy Corgan or anything that you listen to now, does that influence how you play?
Duane Betts: I listen to it sometimes. But if we’re trying to do a real traditional thing, if we’re trying to go for a Band or a Grateful Dead or the Brothers thing, I’m not exactly playing a lot of Billy Corgan. When I say I’m influenced by it, you might be surprised. If I’m at sound check, and I want to mess around on some of that stuff, you might be surprised because I don’t really play like that in what I do. I do still think that Billy Corgan has done some brilliant work. But as far as more recent songwriters, people from the last 20 or 25 years, Ryan Adams is one of my favorites and Jason Isbell is really great. There’s a lot of a lot of people making really good music.
What are you listening today? What inspires you today?
Devon Allman: Man, I gotta say, it may sound crazy. Maybe just the fact that it’s so popular. I was knocked out by that A Star is Born record, and the movie was pretty mind blowing as well. I thought it was just a real masterwork. Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga really smashed it out of the park. I think the record is unbelievable. Some colleagues and friends lent their songwriting talents to that: Lucas Nelson, Jason Isbell. And the songs are just timeless and really badass. I’ve been jamming that a bunch. I’ve been spinning vinyl in my new house quite a bit. And that goes from Mulatu Astatke to… I’ve been I’ve been kind of on a Beatles kick, and ever since Tom Petty passed I’ve been playing a Petty record almost every day.
You’ve covered everything from the Rolling Stones to Prince to Tears for Fears to The Cure. For this tour, are you going to do any covers or stick to your original material?
Duane Betts: We’re always talking about covers, we’re talking about doing an old Howlin’ Wolf song or an old Muddy Waters, kind of a cool, mean Chicago blues song that hasn’t been covered by anybody too much. We want to get it to the point where we’re always bringing new stuff in every couple weeks, work up something else, just to have it, and that way it’s there if you decide to pull it out.
Devon Allman: I don’t like to give too much away because I really want people to have a great show and get a nice surprise, but let’s just say that no stone will be left unturned. We’re gonna get around to all corners of the room, so to speak.
You said you’ll be covering some of the Allman Brothers material on tour. There’s obviously such a huge repertoire there to pick from, how do you pick from that and how do you choose how you’re going to arrange that?
Devon Allman: For this year’s tour, we took it extremely seriously. We woodshedded for four months straight. I mean, I haven’t woodshedded like that in years, and we were in there five days a week for four months. I told the guys that when the Allman Brothers got back together in ‘89, obviously they had new blood in the band and they evolved through this second iteration of the band, and the songs really started to kind of meander and take on new lives and that’s great. Every band will go through that. They’ll choose which songs to jam out or to approach a little differently and whatnot. But I said, “wouldn’t it be nice if we’re gonna play some of this material to go back to the original studio recordings?” These are the recordings that permeated the airwaves in the 70s, and this is where people first fell in love with the Allman Brothers music. Wouldn’t it be nice to actually play them spot-on like they sounded on the radio?
When it came to doing “Blue Sky”, when it came to doing “Multicolored Lady”, I wanted to choose songs that maybe weren’t the obvious choices. I don’t think we did play “One Way Out” hardly at all. We didn’t play “Statesboro”, we didn’t play “Whipping Post”. We went through some of the deeper cuts on some stuff and then some of the hits as well. I don’t think we did “Rambling Man” this year or last year. We did “Midnight Rider” very sparingly, so we really stuck with “Liz Reed”, “Dreams”, and “Multicolored Lady”. We did “Seven Turns” quite a bit. I think that the fans really appreciated hearing some of the deeper cuts. We’re certainly going to keep that ideology going forward into next year. But we also want to have a broader palette. I think we had about ten songs of Brothers catalog ready to go. I would assume that would expand to 15 or 20 so that we can really change up the setlist from night to night. We noticed a lot of people were traveling this year show-to-show and catching two or three in a row.
Like Dead fans or Phish fans.
Devon Allman: Totally, totally, man it was crazy. I mean, we would have people coming up to the merch table saying, “oh man, this is my eighth show this summer,” which is amazing. Obviously, that’s what you hope and dream for. We just really want to keep it up and change it up quite a bit so that each night can be really special and different from the next. I think it’ll be some of the same of this year and then kind of expanding on that.
You said the album will be more song-oriented vs. jam oriented. Will you do some extended jams on tour?
Devon Allman: There will be some song-oriented songs from the record. Absolutely man, you can’t have an Allman, a Betts, and an Oakley on stage without some really deep jams.
Do you expect to have any guests joining you on the tour?
Devon Allman: Oh, hell yeah. Yeah. Yeah, we’ve got a lot of very talented friends. And we’re doing The Fillmore again on my dad’s birthday, December 8th, and we’ve got a stellar lineup for that. We’ve got Robert Randolph, G. Love, Cody and Luther Dickinson, Samantha Fish, Ally Venable, Lamar Williams Jr., Alex Orbison, Berry Oakley Jr., Jimmy Hall, Marcus King… If I left anybody out, it’s because the list is really long. We had a real fun throwdown there last year, and remembrance, and we’re going to do it again this year. We just have a really thick stock of talented friends, and I’m sure that we’re going to have guests popping up on stage all over the place.
Devon, you were working on another solo album, and I guess you’ve put that on the back burner for this project. Do you think that that you’ll come back to that, and this will be a temporary thing?
Devon Allman: I think we’re on a “see how it goes” kind of campaign. We always will have our solo careers, I love all the members of the Devon Allman Project. And I love the songs that we were starting to craft for the next solo record, and I’d like to come back to that stuff. It was fun. It was more 70s rock, Jackson Browne-meets-Tom Petty kind of stuff, and I had never really leaned in that direction. I’m sure we’ll come back to it. But yeah, we’re going to ride the wave on the Allman Betts Band, go out there and do some good work and see where it leads us.
Duane Betts: We’re gonna do it and we’ll put a record out and hopefully it’s well received and then we’ll go out and do a bunch of dates and hopefully see some of the places we’ve never been, and go back to some places that we love. Then, when it’s all said and done, we’ll regroup and decide what the next step is. There’s the idea that it could really be home base, but I’d like to do a full-length record under my name, and with my band. That’s something that I really would like to do. Allman Betts could be something that we always come back to, like a good home base, right?
Devon, you spent a lot of your career blazing your own path, not just trading on your name. When you came out, it was Honeytribe, it didn’t have Allman in the name. Now you’re hooking up with Duane, with Berry, you’ve got Chuck sitting in. Obviously, people are going to have expectations. How do you manage that balance?
Devon Allman: You don’t think about it. You just play the music and you try and write songs that anyone can relate to. You try and write something that’s timeless, that would have been a cool song in the 60’s, or would be a cool song 10 years from now. I think the more that you get into the cerebral side of who your dad is, what kind of mark he left on the industry, that’s a very dangerous place to go. Because that takes your eye off the work. I don’t ever really think about that, honestly. I just think about the work, and I just hope that the people like the music and that’s Allman Brothers fans, as well as Santana fans, or Stones fans. We just want to make good music for good people. And, we’re very fortunate to do so. I’ve always considered us being soldiers for the good. There’s a lot of darkness in the world. And it requires art and artists to balance that darkness out and show people a good time for a couple hours every night.
We could all use some light and joy for a couple of hours. The fans will thank you for that.