Allman

Allman Family Revival Hits Sarasota for Only Florida Appearance

The leader and host of this revival and tribute to the life and music of Gregg Allman is his son Devon Allman. Devon along with his cohorts, The Allman Betts Band, who were the house band, if you will, for some of the best young musicians today.

Playing to a sold-out, packed crowd at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, the show had stellar lighting, sound and artistic graphics. There was a mix of Allman tunes along with the artists own originals. Allman Betts opened the show with “Magnolia Road” from their second album, “Bless your Heart”.

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A few highlights because I don’t want to give too much away to future concert goers. Lilly Hiatt, daughter of John Hiatt, lent her voice to “Sweet Melissa” giving it a whole new sound. The River Kittens who opened the show brought a female perspective to the Jackson Browne penned “These Days”.  An energetic performance by Jimmy Hall of Wet Willie fame with “Keep On Smilin’ was a total welcome surprise. He plays a mean harmonica!

This is a very guitar driven show. Berry Duane Oakley handles the bass with ease throughout the night while various guest ax men throw down. Frank Hannon, guitarist from the band Tesla made a surprise appearance.  Eric Gales blew the house away with his guitar prowess. At one point, Devon had his cell phone out video taping Gales. Let’s not forget Duane Betts handling lead guitar for his own band and jamming with all the other players.

Sarasota’s own Mike Kach was brought to the stage to put his fingers on the ivories. A local favorite, he played in Dickey Betts Great Southern Band as well as currently around the Suncoast.

Don’t leave before it’s over because there are several great jams with the entire ensemble and a bittersweet tribute to Gregg, whose birthday is December 8th.  The show is over 3 hours long and there is not one minute of bad time. If you are an Allman or live music fan, this is a not to miss show!

I had the chance to interview Devon Allman a couple of days before the show, he was laid back and a fun, sharp interview. Read on…

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SP: Devon, I’m going to start with asking about the show. I was wondering how you put this together, how you decided upon the people that are playing in show?

DA: Well, I think the criteria for selecting the artists involved has really always been kind of you know people that knew dad or maybe people that jammed with dad or have been an opening act. People who have just really been inspired by The Allman Brothers. You know a lot of friends and a lot of these friends go back years and years, decades now. The event has become really twofold, it’s not only celebrating the life and music of my father but it’s also celebrating this generation of musicians, we aren’t pop artists, we’re organic musicians. We’re not 22 making pop records and we’re not 72 on a greatest hits tour. We are right at the peak of our powers and I think that we’re all starting to realize it’s about perpetuating this art form, not leaving your mark. When we come together there’s strength in numbers like this, it really makes it extra special. There’s really no tour like this where people get to see this much talent on one stage for one evening.

SP: How long is the show?

DA: Well, I mean a magician doesn’t like to give away how he does his magic. (laughing).  Let me say that it’s a long show.

SP: The Sarasota crowd has been supporting you all for a long time and of course the show is sold out which doesn’t surprise me with your connections here and Duane and Berry living here.

DA: Yeah, with dad living there for so long and Dickey Betts, Sarasota certainly has been a second home to a lot of us. It’s going to be really special. it’s our only Florida play too so I think that’s really important. I think a lot of Floridians you know from Miami, Orlando, Daytona, and Jacksonville are coming from all corners of the state.

SP: Do you have any surprise guests for the show? Of course, everybody’s thinking Dickey is gonna come and jam with you guys.  

DA: Well again, I don’t wanna really reveal too much but you know there’s always with this tour, some surprises around every corner. Is that a lame way of putting it? (laughing) I think it’s a blanket statement but I think it’s a very fair way to not reveal too much. There’s a surprise around every corner. Dickey is retired and I can’t speak for him, we would welcome anyone that has been in the Allman Brothers Band on our stage anytime.

SP: In looking at the tour dates, I noticed that you’re playing the Beacon Theatre in NYC on Gregg’s birthday. Did you specifically request that you wanted to play the Beacon on that day?

DA: Honestly, I wish it works that well. I wish I wielded the power to say we play the Beacon. How serendipitous that the night available to accommodate our show was dad’s birthday. Playing the Beacon for dad’s birthday, that’s magic! You can’t script that kind of stuff! We would be thrilled to play a week later after his birthday, but to have it land on the day is sheer magic.

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SP: I wanna ask you couple personal questions, so besides the obvious of your dad who were your influences when you were growing up musically?

DA: I really like all kinds of music but I mean some of the ones that really kind of rise to the top of the pile are Ray Charles, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and Curtis Mayfield. I love jazz music. I love Coltrane, Miles Davis. I went through a heavy metal phase and thank God I never got out of it, so I still really identify with heavy metal music. B.B. King might be my all-time favorite artist ever. It would really be a 3 -way tie between B.B. King, Curtis Mayfield and Ray Charles. Those three are just the top of the heap. My first concert was Cheap Trick, my first record was Paul McCartney & Wings and the Beatles, so I try to stay pretty well rounded.

SP: Did you get to see the Stones on the recent tour?

DA: Oh my God, so my girlfriend and I got on a plane and went to Detroit to see the second to last performance. Awesome, it was so inspiring I mean it’s you know that’s just a study of perseverance right there. I’m sitting there watching and going ****, you know I could just keep my **** together, I could do this for another 30 years. They really set the gold standard for what is possible. Duane Betts went to the Tampa show and I was a little jealous of the Tampa setlist.  I didn’t even use any connections for tickets, went on Stub Hub got the tickets. Keith Richards opening just buried me, it was unreal. I was 10 feet from Mick Jagger in the pit! SP: You were in the pit – Shut up! (laughing)

 SP: What do you guys have going on for next year? Do you have new music coming out or tour dates going on yet?

DA: I mean we’re really just doing this but if our third record was a baseball game, we rounded first and are heading into second. We are hoping to record in May. We are looking at an album drop in the Fall 2022. We already announced the spring tour that starts in March. We are kind of like eternally touring and the tour behind the new record should be great in the fall.

Vicky Sullivan Photos

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Allman Family, Bass, Concert, Devon Allman, Dickey Betts Great Southern Band, Eric Gales, Florida, Gregg Allman, Guitar, Jackson Browne, John Hiatt, Lilly HIatt, Live Event, MIKE KACH, Sarasota, Sold Out, Tesla, The Allman Betts Band, Van Wezel Performing Arts Center

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