The Allman Brothers Band was never afraid to mix things up on stage. It wasn’t unusual to hear blues, Southern rock, and covers on the same setlist. The same can be said for the Allman Betts Band, the sextet made up of the children of founding Allman Brothers’ Gregg Allman, Dickey Betts, and Berry Oakley. The band isn’t afraid to step outside the Southern blues rock box to try something different, much to the delight of fans. While the Allman Betts Band still has some growing to do, they are certainly finding their footing in the mid-sized performing arts centers that they are calling home on the Down To The River tour. The October 27 tour stop featured guitarist J.D. Simo and British blues guitarist Joanne Shaw Taylor as opening acts.
Touring with a stellar lineup of musicians that features guitarists Duane Betts, the son of Dickey Betts, Devon Allman, the son of the late Gregg Allman, and Johnny Stachela alongside Dixie Chicks veteran organist John Ginty, bassist Berry Oakley Jr., son of Berry Oakley, percussionist R. Scott Bryan, and drummer John Lum, the young band played its way through a setlist that included the Allman Brothers, songs from individual band members, original compositions, and even a Prince cover.
The band wrapped itself in its heritage by way of tasty versions of Allman classics Blue Sky and Midnight Rider which sounded perfect in the close quarters of the Charles Dodge Performing Arts Center in Pembroke Pines, Florida. The appreciative middle-aged audience was old enough to remember hearing these songs on an Allman's tour 30 years before. The musicianship of the group was apparent as the guitarists blazed through barely noticeable chord changes that sounded like they were second nature. While drums and bass are usually the tempo of a live band, in this case that isn’t so. The groovy bass lines served as more of a backdrop to the shredding Les Pauls while the rhythmic drumming and percussion provided a funkified fill between chords. What was unusual was the prominent spot that the Hammond B-3 played in the music. While the B-3 is not a subtle instrument, it is even less so in the hands Ginty. Not one to show off, preferring to let his organ do the talking, he somehow manages to make the instrument sound like it belongs center stage with the guitars. This is never more apparent then on original numbers like the show opening All Night which featured blues guitar, dripping with the wah wah of the Hammond.
This band is still growing into itself, much like a labrador puppy that has paws too big for its' body. They can at times be a little stiff and clumsy, but also flash hints of brilliance like their famous daddies before them. What is obvious is that the band is trying to have fun up on stage while showing off their musical chops. Given time, there should be no doubt that they have within them an Eat A Peach or Idlewild South. Stay tuned.