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Second generation rockers creating a musical legacy of their own

Second generation rockers creating a musical legacy of their own

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Recording "Bless Your Heart" -- their second album -- at the historic Muscle Shoals Sound Studio wasn't too intimidating to The Allman Betts Band vocalist and guitarist Duane Betts.

But it did make him want to raise his game.

"We had already recorded our first album (2019's 'Down to the River') at Muscle Shoals, so it was familiar to us," Betts explained. "Having said that, the place was important to music history, it was literally a museum during the day."

You have to remember the Sheffield, Alabama recording studio had previously hosted such A-Listers as Aretha Franklin, Elton John and The Rolling Stones. 

FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF ROCK AND ROLL ROYALS

However, Betts' musical partner, guitarist-singer Devon Allman enjoyed the fact that he was recording in the same studio where Mick Jagger had laid down the track for "Wild Horses" nearly 50 years before.

"I imagined I was in the same spot that Mick once stood," Allman said. "That was a really cool feeling."

Allman, the son of the late Gregg Allman from the legendary Allman Brothers Band, was accustomed to stepping into some very big shoes.

Then again, so was Betts, whose dad Dickie Betts was also Allman Brothers Band cofounder and the writer and singer of the group's biggest hit, "Rambling Man."

CREATING A LEGACY OF THEIR OWN

Having said that, both men wanted The Allman Betts Band, formed in 2018, to have its own distinct sound, apart from the music made by their dads. 

The Allman Betts Band -- which consists of Allman, Betts, bass-vocalist Berry Duane Oakley, guitarist-vocalist Johnny Stachela, percussionist-vocalist R. Scott Bryan, keyboardist John Ginty and drummer John Lum -- will be performing a live concert at 7:30 p.m. April 17 at the Orpheum Theatre, 528 Pierce St.

"While we are a southern rock band, we also have a bit of western and, even, some Southern California in our sound," Betts explained. "Every member of the band brings a big part of their personality to come out  in the music."

GETTING CREATIVE DURING COVID

This wasn't an easy feat during COVID.

"At a time when we should've been aggressively promoting our music, everything had to be canceled," Betts said. "The pandemic brought things down to standstill."

During the shutdown, The Allman Betts Band continued to write songs, produced music videos and, even, embarked on a social-distanced concert tour at drive-in movie theaters.

"We played our drive-in shows until it got too cold to play in outdoor venues," Betts said.

After that, the guys took a well-deserved break.

Betts spent quality time with his dad, now retired and living in Florida.

Allman decided to experience an African adventure.

"I was in Tanzania for a vacation," Allman explained. "COVID wasn't as severe over there and the country opened up to travel long before the United States."

The trip, he said, constituted the longest break from performing in more than a decade.

Indeed, Allman grew up listening to music from artists as diverse as Santana, Megadeath and Eric Clapton, whose recording of "Layla" -- which also featured the guitar work of his late uncle Duane Allman -- remained an all-time favorite.

"There is just so much passion and soulfulness in 'Layla,'" he mentioned. "It is timeless."

INITIALLY DRAWN TO ACTING, ALLMAN DISCOVERS A NEW PASSION

Despite a love of rock and roll, Allman actually considered going into acting after high school.

"I was really into theater when I was younger," he said. "Then, I started playing gigs in the Allman Brothers Band and discovered that, yeah, this was more fun that acting."

It was as a member of the Allman Brothers Band that Allman befriended Betts, who sat in with the band when not touring in other groups like Dawes, Backbone69 and Whitestarr.

By the time Allman decided to form his own band, he invited Betts to join him.

"We're now both in our 40s and have reached a time in our lives what we want," Allman said. "That comes with maturity."

MUSICAL PLAYLIST SUITABLE FOR DRIVING AND MAKING 'BADASS' HUEVO RANCHEROS 

So does a greater appreciation of all styles of music.

Right now, Allman said he's been listening to everything from John Coltrane to Lucero to Faith No More.

"I've been buying way too much vinyl (records) lately," he said with a chuckle. "It is becoming a problem."

Does Allman have any musical recommendations?

"I need Judas Priest when I drive, and something jazzy when I'm cooking," he suggested. "I'm OK when it comes to cooking Italian, better when it comes to Asian, and have been told that my Tex-Mex Huevos Ranchero is seriously badass."

Allman admitted he will never become a CPA or ease into retirement by painting in the French countryside.

"Music is my life," he explained. "When I was younger, I never wanted to be a stadium rocker, playing shows to 20,000 or more. Those bands burn out too quickly. If I can play theater shows to 2,000 hardcore fans for the rest of my life, I'll be a very happy man."

"Hell, let's put it this way," Allman said. "If we can get build an audience that is big enough for a party, that is good enough for us."  

  

 

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