Southern Rock Progeny: Devon Allman and Duane Betts are creating their own legacy

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Devon Allman and Duane Betts aren’t trying to live up to their fathers’ music.

They just want to create great art.

Apparently, it’s working. The Allman Betts Band started its world tour on March 27 and it sold out 12 of its first 18 shows.

“If you’re honest and authentic, and true to your values as an artist, people will react to that in a positive way,” Betts says.

“That’s all you really need to do. You write songs and put a record out. You try to make sure there’s a narrative and a thread that runs between the songs. There has to be a feeling that runs through the whole thing.”

The Allman Betts Band is releasing a new album, “Down to the River,” on June 28. It was recorded at the legendary Muscle Shoals Sound Studios and produced by Matt Ross-Spang (Jason Isbell, Margo Price, John Prine and Elvis Presley). Former Allman Brothers Band keyboardist and current Rolling Stones keyboardist, Chuck Leavell, and former Greg Allman Band Hammond B3 player, Peter Levin, both guested on the record.

“We just went in and recorded it over about six days,” says Betts, who has known Allman since the late 1980s. “It was done live on the spot with very little overdubs. It’s an honest representation of where the band was. We were getting a feel for the tunes and the room on the spot.”

The Allman Betts Band is a family affair. Along with Allman and Betts, bassist and old friend Berry Oakley Jr. is also in the lineup, along with guitarist Johnny Stachela, drummers/percussionists John Lum and R. Scott Bryan and jam scene veteran John Ginty on keyboards.

Fans can get a feel for themselves when The Allman Betts Band comes to the Chandler Center for the Arts on Sunday, May 19.

“We’re doing a lot of songs from the new album and then we have surprises,” he says. “I’m not going to give them away. We’re obviously pushing our record, but there are other treats Allman Brothers’ fans will enjoy. It’s the 50th anniversary of the Allman Brothers Band. They’re not out playing that music, obviously. That’s where we come from.”

The two played the Musical Instrument Museum recently, however, this time it’s a band gig.

“I was opening the shows and promoting my self-released EP and sitting in for a large portion of his show,” Betts says “We said we ‘have to do a band after this.’ We didn’t force it and it would have been OK if we just did what we were doing. But we thought we were onto something. It was timely and I’m glad we’re doing it.”

more info

What: The Allman Betts Band

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 16

Where: Fox Tucson Theater, 17 W. Congress Street

Cost: $29-$54

Info: 547-3040, foxtucson.com

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