The Allman Betts Band at The Pavillion in Delray Beach
The Allman Betts Band presented a welcoming audience a heavy dose of Americana and traditional Southern rock with songs that may have sounded familiar to those of who know the lineage of these talented musicians. As the sons of Gregg Allman, Dickey Betts, and Berry Oakley of the famed Allman Brothers Band, the impressive set was delivered on a shirt-soaking rainy and humid night at the Pavilion at Old School Square in Delray Beach, Florida.
When we talk about this band, several things come to mind, especially knowing that their fathers forged a special place in Southern rock history, creating a legacy that is rare in music; now their sons continue the family folklore, playing the songs of their fathers past and creating their own story through their own music. The group, which is touring in support of its second album, Bless Your Heart, is led by frontmen Devon Allman, guitar, vocals, and Duane Betts, guitar, vocals, along with Berry Oakley Jr., bass. The group also features John Stachela, guitar; John Ginty, keyboards; R. Scott Bryan, percussion; and John Lum, drums.
Things didn’t start on time; they rarely do during rainy season in South Florida. A light shower reminded those who came that summertime rain and humidity had arrived, coupled with a brief shower that got the audience ducking for cover while the instruments on stage were being covered as well. It seemed like everyone was looking at the radar on their phones, hoping to catch a break and get the tunes going. The venue’s socially distanced pods were soon to be a thing of the past, but since these spaces were sold as pods months earlier, it was a much smaller crowd who got perhaps their final pod experience as the pandemic is in the rearview mirror, and nation is returning to some semblance of normalcy. Despite a light sprinkle, The Allman Betts Band took the stage and brought the audience to life opening with “Pale Horse Rider.” The light sprinkle quickly turned into a shower that drenched the audience. Despite the downpour, the majority remained in their pods; fortunately the rain lasted into only the third song, and from then on it remained clear. The faithful audience was rewarded with a hearty helping of Americana, bluegrass, blues, country, and Southern rock that kept people dancing in their pods from the first drum strike to the final note.
What makes this band unique is that they keep heads turning; it was impossible to predict what they would play next, leaving one to wonder: will it be a cover or an original tune. From one song to the next, the seven members of The Allman Betts Band touched on their own special blend of sounds combining, a heavy dose of electric guitars, slide guitars, keyboards, bass and drums. The enthusiasm of the crowd was the measure of the band’s performance; they delivered a non-stop set that included the very best of their own music and included a few covers from the Gregg Allman Band as well as tunes from the original ABB. The audience was treated to a medley of the band’s most recognized tunes including “Dreams,” “Down to the River,” “Autumn Breeze,” “Blue Sky,” and “Southbound,” where the audience had their hands up high as they gyrated side to side, singing along to nearly every word.
The raspy-voiced Allman shows many similarities to his father Gregg vocally; perhaps it’s not fair to compare, but the similarities do exist. The highlight of the night came during “Blue Sky,” a song where both Allman and Betts shared lead vocals, and all four guitarists lined up in formation side by side for an extended jam session that included Allman playing his white acoustic and Betts shredding on his electric. As a teenager, Allman left high school and joined his dad on the road; his love for music and touring was found at that moment. Since then lots of things have happened, but most importantly is his reuniting with Betts in 2018 when the current band was formed. What the future holds for them one can only wonder. They have earned their respect with grit and determination to be their own band; however, the names of these musicians carry a legacy far beyond their latest album.
The Allman Betts Band gave a great performances and it was nice to see Allman, Betts and Oakley deliver the traditional sounds of classic Southern rock music. Their respective pedigrees are remarkable, growing up in musical families and keeping their fathers’ musical heritage alive. ABB should no longer be talked about as a band in the future: they have arrived. They are creating new music that will carve out their own legacy in music. It was a memorable good ole’ Southern jam in every way; there wasn’t anything else to say. The audience left happy and satisfied with the evening.
Opening the show were The River Kittens, a St. Louis roots, rock, and grass duo made up of Mattie Schell and Allie Vogler.