I am in a place in my life where I am seeing the best of both worlds. What I am referring to is the coming of a second generation claiming their pathway to stardom. In music it’s the Allman Betts Band. Three members are not only sons of famous musicians, but all their fathers were founding members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees the Allman Brothers. Devon Allman son of Gregg, Duane Betts, son of Dickie Betts and Barry Oakley Jr, son of bass player extraordinaire Barry Oakley are willfully echoing the sound of their fathers, but the musical spark is truly their own. Along with the second generation of players are a seasoned group of touring musicians. Johnny Stachela on slide, rhythm and lead guitar, John Lum on Drums and R. Scott Bryan on Percussion.
The Allman Betts Band released their debut album last year entitled Down to The River. The album was recorded in the famed Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. Their debut shot straight to #1 on the Billboard Rock Charts the week it was released. I recently photographed the band at the Wescott Theater in Syracuse, NY. They performed several tracks from their debut album and a few signature songs from the Allman Brothers catalogue, including the classic Gregg Allman penned Melissa. This band is a must see live. They bring their updated version of Southern Rock into the new millilumen with a fresh take. The band incorporates all the facets of Southern Rock – blue eyed soul, country, delta blues and a dominate flavor of rock “n” roll.
Allman Betts Band have paid their dues. Duane Betts was the main component in his first musical adventures with California bands Backbone 69 and Whitestar. He went on to form Jamtown with Donavan Frankenreiter. Even more beneficial was playing alongside his father for close to a decade with Great Southern. His talents as a guitarist and song writer ascended to a higher level. Betts released his first solo album in 2018 with Sketches of American Music.
Devon Allman formed Honeytribe in 1999, releasing two albums. He was also one of the original members of Royal Southern Brotherhood with Cyril Neville. The band debuted in 2011 also releasing two studio albums. In 2013 he launched his own solo career with the Devon Allman Band which has released three albums to date.
Barry Oakley has also paid his dues. He was the lead vocalist and bass player along with guitarist Joe Bonamassa in Bloodline from 1991 to 1996. In 2000, he joined Blue Floyd with Govt. Mule’s Alan Woody. 2015 Oakley formed the Freight Train Band with former Allman Brothers drummer Butch Trucks.
The new album from Allman Betts Band – Down to the River opens with a four-count intro to the rocker All Night. Devon Allman leads the charge with his lived-in soulful lead vocals and the all-encompassing guitar work of Betts and Stachela. The heritage of the Allman Brothers seeps through their pours on Autumn Breeze and Shinin, reflecting sounds of the past. Betts time worn vocals and the slide guitar work of Stachela are front and center. Up next is the acoustic oriented Good Old Days sung by Devon Allman. The song lyrically and vocally shines. All the songs are original, with the exception of Autumn Breeze and Tom Petty’s Southern Accents. Devon Allman’s interpretation of this cover is unexpected and brilliant. His heart felt vocals backed by Peter Levin’s consummate piano rendition and Stachela’s laid back slide guitar captures what it means to be a southern. Two of my favorites are the groove laden title track Down to The River and Long Gone. The duet on Long Gone incorporates Allman and Betts with a back and forth commanding vocal performance. The soaring twin lead guitars closes the album better than any other song on the album could. The whole album is filled with riff filled jams and interwoven guitar work that fires on all cylinders. Allman Betts Band don’t reinvent the wheel but relive snap shots of the past forging their own musical direction.
Check out the latest from Allman Betts Band – Down to The River. As with all my reviews – if you like what I like, you will either stream the latest from the Allman Betts Band or end up buying their new cd.
Photos by Stage Door Images / Bill Baker