“It was the show on this tour, it was Savannah, Georgia with Marshall Tucker Band and Dana Fuchs,” guitarist Devon Allman explains on a snowy December day before a show in Cleveland. Touring across the world with his solo project or with the Royal Southern Brotherhood band with bandmates Mike Zito, Yonrico Scott, Cyril Neville and Charlie Wooten, he’s been thrilling audiences across the world with his rapidly ascending star. But it was a particularly special concert outside of Savanna, Georgia, not far from the home of his father, the legendary rocker Gregg Allman, that the lives of both Allman and a young, aspiring guitar player would be changed.
“I come downstairs to get into the ride, and this kid is waiting for me. I’m thinking, ‘wow, they sent a kid to get me…'” he chuckles as he looks back at the moment. “So I reached my hand out, said, ‘I’m Devon Allman and you must be my driver.’
Yeah man, I’m Matt Dylan.
An exhausted Allman was in the middle of a long tour, having been on the road nonstop and in different cities every night for weeks on end. He was still working that same tour when he told his touching story to American Blues Scene. “He started talking my ear off and he was very excited to drive me, which was extremely sweet. He was just a super good kid,” adds Allman.
“I wasn’t an asshole at all, I mean I talked to him and everything, I was just really spent from the traveling and I made up some excuse and told him I need to study these lyrics, and I put my ear buds in… to kind of tune him out.” But something was tugging at the seasoned guitarist that he just couldn’t shake.
“I instantly felt like an asshole. I mean like within minutes. I just took ’em out.”
“So I said, ‘So Matt you play guitar, what kind of guitar you got?’ So we were just shootin’ the shit.” It didn’t take long for Allman to piece together that Matt’s family had been enduring tough times. His mother was disabled and Matt had faithfully been playing and practicing on a single cheap acoustic guitar until one of his siblings broke it. He saved for months to buy another — a cheap, entry-level acoustic.
“I don’t know man, the wheels just started clickin’…” Allman lamented, a hint of humility in his voice. “I was like, ‘this kid needs to have a good Christmas, ya know?’ I mean, I don’t do that kind of thing all the time… but I really had an awakening.”
“I had a moment where I realized that I was put in this car for a reason, and maybe that reason wasn’t even to do something nice for him. But maybe he ends up doing something nice for someone else in twenty years that’s way bigger than a guitar. You know what I mean?”
“So I got to the gig and I pulled the promoter aside and said, ‘Man, that kid is really cool. I want you to get me his address.'” Right then and there, Allman pulled out his phone, opened up Amazon and picked out a nice Fender Stratocaster — in sunburst, because “I knew that was the color he liked from our conversation.” Allman had the guitar shipped to the young player. “I just went boom… I just hit ‘buy’ and it was off to the races,” he says about the split-second decision.
“So he sends me this message”…Devon says of the kid
Mr devon i want to thank you so much, that was the most amazing thing anyone has ever done for me, that means the world to me, I’ve had an extremely rough past few days, i had surgery friday and i was rushed back to the hospital Saturday because i was bleeding out cuz of and artery being cut, you made me feel so much better and made me be able to have an amazin christmas, the guitar plays great, i just cannot than you enough, i pray that god will bless you tem time sover for this mr devon, i just can’t thank you enough
“I shared it with my social media, and I shared it to just kind of remind people that we are here to help people, man. Help those that are less fortunate. And we’re definitely here as musicians to help others… I wanted my own musician friends to see the message. No matter what the cost of time or investment, it’s our duty to do this type of thing. We don’t inspire just by making a record and touring — sometimes you need to go the extra distance and get an instrument in the hands of someone that needs it. So it was really awesome.
“He sent the message back thanking me profusely, which was great, but I sent him a message and I said, ‘My pleasure, sometime in your life you are going to be presented with a similar situation and I just want you to handle it with the same spirit.
You play the hell out of that thing, everyday, Merry Christmas, Devon Allman.