The Allman Betts Band Play a Stellar Show at Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall
There is a line from the Gregg Allman written “Midnight Rider” that says “the road goes on forever” that has become an anthem of sorts in respect to the next generation of the Allman Brothers Band. The sons of founding members Dickey Betts, Gregg Allman and Berry Oakley have put together their own musical posse of The Allman Betts Band. They hit Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall for a show on their current tour. A large Suncoast crowd was in attendance to root on Sarasota’s favorite musical sons. Allman, Betts and Oakley have all grown up or spent time in Sarasota for years. They have gigged separately and together all around the SRQ.
Opening the show for ABB, was the female duo, The River Kittens. Allie Vogler & Mattie Schell have a bluegrass folk sound with beautiful harmonies. Playing guitars and mandolin, they have a unique style. Devon Allman has signed them to his Create Records label. They were a fun and engaging opening act.
The Allman Betts Band arrived onstage and immediately paying homage to the original Allman Brothers Band with a 14-minute version of the Gregg Allman written “Dreams”, that ended with the first of many standing ovations of the evening. Magnolia Road and Pale Horse Rider from the 2020 “Bless Your Heart” album made the set list. Devon Allman’s vocals were spot on all night with a deep range that surprised at times.
Duane Betts guitar prowess is reminiscent of his dad, Dickey Betts, but yet he has his own style. One of the guitars he plays is a Les Paul Gold Top ala Duane Allman. Fun fact: Duane’s original 1957 Gold Top sold at auction in 2019 for $1.25 million! Berry Duane Oakley, Jr. on bass rounds out the trio of the original ABB sons. Berry keeps the bass riffs moving and Allman floats to Oakley’s side of the stage quite often.
The Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil” cover was a perfect choice for a good jam tune. Duane Betts played it smooth while Allman played acoustic and sang lead. Next was the double treat of “Midnight Rider” which had everyone up out of their seats singing Gregg Allman’s words, “Not gonna let them catch the Midnight Rider”. More celebration of the 50-year anniversary of the Allman Brothers Band music followed with Betts taking vocals on the classic “Blue Sky”. Ruth Eckerd Hall was in total rapture and standing ovations were flowing over! “Down to the River” from their album of the same name was next. A beautiful bluesy vocal by Devon. Changing the mood up with the fun rocker “Airboats & Cocaine”, an ode to Florida’s everglades
Berry Oakley takes his turn at lead vocals and keys on the haunting “Doctor’s Daughter” Johnny Stachela adds his slide guitar sound as well as John Ginty on keys with Berry. Allman fills in for Berry on the bass. The original ABB had two drummers and Allman Betts are continuing the tradition using two percussionists, R.Scott Bryan who worked with Sheryl Crow for years and John Lum, who you can check out more about online at Modern Drummer magazine. They are excellent bringing many great sounds to the songs. The set closes out with Allman Betts originals, “Rivers Run” & “Long Gone”.
For the encore Devon brings the River Kittens to the stage for a jam on a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City”, which the twosome has recorded. Closing out the show, a last tribute to their heritage with Duane Betts singing his father’s penned, “Southbound”. You can have a famous name, but that doesn’t mean you have the talent. In this case, they all have the names & talent and are carrying on not only their father’s legacy but making their own future.
If you would like to check out more of the Allman Betts Band, they are doing a live streaming three show event. Running every Monday night starting on June 14th. Each show will be unique, set lists totally different. All info and tickets at the website.
Vicky Sullivan Photos