The Allman Betts Band returned to the stage Friday night after having 13 months off from touring and recently releasing their new album, Bless Your Heart. The band played The Marquee Theater in Tempe, Arizona in front of a 30% capacity crowd, which, by COVID standards, made it a sold-out show. “Finally, live music,” I heard someone say as opening act, world famous local guitarist Carvin Jones came out to warm up this antsy, fired up crowd. Live shows are coming back, and you could feel the excitement.
Jones did more than his part. His raw blues playing, and high energy had folks up dancing and cheering for more. After an hour set the crowd starting chanting “5 more songs!” Jones is heading to do a quick tour in Texas before starting a new world tour, a must see when he comes to your town.
Singer/guitarists Devon Allman and Duane Betts, the sons of Gregg Allman and Dickie Betts, and bassist Berry Duane Oakley Jr. son of Berry Oakley (founding members of The Allman Brothers Band), have put together one amazing group. They get better and better every time I hear them. Devon’s vocals and Duane’s guitar playing are an incredible combination that makes you wonder just how far this band can go. For all the Allman Brothers Band fans this is unreal. They’re not a cover or tribute band, and they are not going to take the place of the ABB, but man, this might fill the void for some of you.
Opening the show with “Airboats & Cocaine” and “King Crawler” — both from Bless Your Heart — was a great way to get things going. Both seemed to be fan faves, while “Shakedown Street” (a Grateful Dead cover) rocked the house and got the people up and dancing. Devon sang his ass off to “Left My Heart in Memphis,” a Royal Southern Brotherhood tune that really showcases his voice.
“Blue Sky” and “Wasting Time No More” were just two examples of how ABB fans are going to be excited to see this tour. These two covers really exemplify these sons carrying on their fathers’ names and music. I know the guys might not like me saying this, but when I watched Devon and Duane, I saw Gregg and Dickie up there, especially when they turned a certain way or made a certain face while playing. The band also features bassist Berry Duane Oakley Jr. and guitarist Johnny Stachela (Leroy Powell, Jorgan Carlsson), the two making a perfect fit for this band.
But the talent doesn’t stop there. Other members of the Allman Betts Band include Hammond B-3 mage John Ginty (Robert Randolph’s Family Band, Jewel, Dixie Chicks); multi-instrumentalist R. Scott Bryan (Sheryl Crow); and drummer John Lum (StikYard, Devon Allman Project).
The set continued with an original, an instrumental, and some more covers before taking a break and setting up for the encore. The show ended with “Midnight Rider,” the sold-out crowd giving a standing ovation and left wanting more, after over two hours of jam. The chemistry is there and not only can you see it, but you can feel it. Berry Oakley coined the phrase “Hitting the Note,” meaning everyone’s hitting the right note or on the same page. Well the Allman Betts Band were Hitting the Note Friday night. The future is bright for these guys.
For the rest of April, the Allman Betts Band will be touring the Midwest and South, including stops in Omaha, Sioux City, North Charleston, Roanoke, Montgomery, and more.
To check out tour dates, set lists, or to purchase the new album visit Allman Betts Band.
*All photos © Rick Scuteri