A MUSICAL FRIENDSHIP: Allman and Betts originally met in the late '90s and have played together numerous times since then, but they only formally assembled the Allman Betts Band within the past year or two. In 2017, Allman organized a concert at the Fillmore in San Francisco to honor the music and memory of his father, founding Allman Brothers Band keyboardist and singer Gregg Allman, and also to debut his new band, the Devon Allman Project. "That was the debut of his band, and he had just asked me to be a guest at that show," Betts says. "I had just put out a solo record and I was the opening act." The show marked the beginning of a partnership with Betts, son of founding Allman Brothers Band guitarist and singer Dickey Betts. Last year, Betts served as the opening act on the Devon Allman Project tour. During the shows, he'd also join Allman each night for a tribute to their respective fathers. "We went to Europe and played extensively throughout the States," says Betts when asked about that tour. "I would guest with his band, and he would do three or four tunes with my band. My guitar player Johnny Stachela was out with me, and I used [Allman's] rhythm section. From that, we formed the Allman Betts Band. It's been really great."
NO OVERDUBS: The group recorded its forthcoming album, Down to the River, at Muscle Shoals with Matt Ross-Spang (Jason Isbell, Margo Price, John Prine). "Devon worked with [Ross-Spang] in Memphis," says Betts. "He was doing something on a Sun Studios special. They had met there and stayed in touch. Devon brought that name up and let me know what his credentials were, and I thought it was a good choice." The guys cut the record live to tape. "We wanted to go for an old-school classic vibe," says Betts. "A lot of the great records were done that way. You just set up and record the room instead of recording a bunch of tracks and overdubbing a bunch of stuff. You record what's going on in the room. We used tape because it sounds so great."
WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR THEM: Album opener "All Night" features gruff vocals and wailing guitars as it evokes the classic rock of the 1970s. "That was just right off the cuff," says Betts when asked about the track. "I had a riff, and we started working on it. Devon came up with the subject of the song. I had a melody and a movement and all the parts. It's just a classic collaboration of guys sitting around." With "Shinin'," another classic rock-sounding track that features a touch of organ, the band writes about overcoming hardship. "It's about when you've been through some hard times, and you find a new light and a new hope that love can bring," says Betts. "It's an uplifting song but it's gritty too. It's talking about where I've been. I'm shining now, but I've been through some stuff. It's got a cool Southern-soul-meets-Derek-and-the-Dominos vibe."
WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: allmanbettsband.com.
WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: The Allman Betts Band performs at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 18, at the Kent Stage in Kent.