I was smack dab in the middle of my 11th Summer Camp Music Festival when we heard the news of Gregg Allman’s passing. The predictable covers came from everyone most notably a heartbroken Warren Haynes who turned his set into to an homage to his fallen comrade. At that time many of us payed a moment of silence for the end of an era. The Allman Brothers are the wellspring from which southern rock and many of the elements of present day jam flows. Variations of the Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Marshall Tucker Band still tour today but they lack the jaw dropping goodness of Gregg Allman and his band. So fans still seek out that sound. We are on the cusp of a new collaboration between the next generation of southern jammers. Gregg’s son Devon Allman known for his Honeytribe project and relative newcomer Duane Betts son of Dickey Betts have teamed up for something fresh yet familiar. They’ve been testing the waters with a full tour featuring nightly jams and classic covers.
Their show at the Moxi Theater was a reunion of sorts from the Allman / Betts appearance in July at the Greeley Blues Jam. The Moxi is the cornerstone of a revitalized downtown in Greeley. The setup is great with a bar separate from the stage area. The venue itself is intimate with reserved tables surrounding the GA floor. There was about a hundred and fifty in attendance and the show started promptly at 8:15 PM with a solo set from Duane and his band. The young Betts got his chops playing in his father’s post ABB project, The Great Southern. He is finally striking out on his own with a new album entitled Sketches of American Music and some new tour mates. Most notably he sounds like a kid who grew up listening to the Allmans. Betts incorporates massive musical swells in and out songs almost like a punctuation to each track. One of the highlights of his thirty minute set was the country rock tune “Ride It Out” featuring the Duane’s signature vocals.
The Devon Allman Project took the stage around 9 PM to an energetic welcome from the hometown crowd. The band started with a series of originals Devon has penned over the years. He has assembled a solid band most notably recruiting the talents of Voice contender Nicholas David on keys and backing vocals. They opened with “Midnight Lake Michigan.”
Set 1: Midnight Lake Michigan, Ten Million Slaves, I’ll Be Around, All Night, Melodies Are Memories, Dreams, What’s Going On, Seven Turns, Muti Colored Lady, Blue Sky
Encore: Gold Ol’ Days
“Ten Million Slaves” is Devon’s the raw and gritty ode to America’s less celebrated history. The band got a chance to show their R&B chops on The Spinners’ classic “I’ll Be Around,” which Devon recorded in 2014. Duane returned to the stage for “All Night” where he would remain until the end of the show. Duane took lead vocals on the slide guitar tune“Melodies Are Memories,” it’s tracks like this that will inevitably be on the forthcoming collaborative album. Their rendition of the Allman Brothers classic “Dreams” was nothing short of stunning in its authenticity. Devon departed for a breather while Nicholas David took over singing duties on the Marvin Gaye standard “What’s Going On.” Allman and Betts took turn paying homage to their fathers first with the Dickey Betts penned “Seven Turns” which was the title track to a 1990 ABB release of the same name. Then Devon go his chance with Greg Allman’s beautiful “Multi Colored Lady.” Both Duane and Devon played their father’s guitars throughout the show, which I thought that added to the weight of their performance. At times it felt like there were a few ghosts floating in the rafters of the Moxi. This is the next generation of the Allman Brothers and they are poised to fully to commit to this music with a new band appropriately titled The Allman Betts Band.
They closed the show with a stellar version of “Blue Sky” before the full band returned for a quick encore. Devon noted that, “The good old days are happening right now,” and with that he launched into “Good Ol’ Days.” This is Southern Rock 2.0 with a youthful energy and a special kind of reverence that can only come from a son looking up to his father. This Sunday night show in Greeley was short, but very sweet. I’m sure the early evening gave fans a chance on the ride home to reflect on a bygone time and the dawning of a new era.