The Allman Betts Family Reunion Tour brought the spirit of Southern rock to the Brown County Music Center on Saturday night, delivering a show that was both nostalgic and fresh. The band, led by Devon Allman and Duane Betts, the sons of the legendary Gregg Allman and Dickey Betts, paid tribute to their fathers’ legacy while also showcasing their own original songs and style.
The Allman Betts Band, took the stage with a roar of applause from the fans. The band consists of Devon Allman on guitar and vocals, Duane Betts on guitar and vocals, Tal Wilkenfeld, formerly with the late Jeff Beck on bass and vocals, Johnny Stachela on slide guitar, John Ginty on keyboards, R. Scott Bryan on percussion and John Lum on drums. The band played a mix of songs from their two albums, Down to the River and Bless Your Heart, as well as some classic Allman Brothers Band hits.
Tagging along with the band, and performing guest numbers, were Mattie V, a young singer-songwriter from Nashville who impressed the crowd with her soulful voice and catchy tunes. She was followed by Ghalia Volt, a Belgian blues-rock artist who brought some grit and attitude to the stage. Her powerful vocals and guitar skills were matched by her charismatic presence and interaction with the audience.
They opened the show with Jimmy Hall, the lead singer and harmonica player from the southern rock band Wet Willie, with the intro to get the audience going, following up with “Statesboro Blues.”
Some of the highlights of the show were “Soulshine”, a catchy tune co-written by Stoll Vaughan and Warren Haynes, but performed by the incredible blues guitarist Larry McRay, “Blue Sky”, a moody ballad that featured Duane Betts’ soaring slide guitar solo, A Tal Wilkenfeld jam on the bass, leading into “One Way Out”, a rousing tribute to Gregg Allman that Devon Allman sang with emotion and grace, and a version of “Tied to the Whipping Post”, that displayed the band’s versatility and dynamics, and highlighted an over the top vocal performance by “Uncle Jimmy”, aka Jimmy Hall of Wet Willie, mentioned earlier. All of these fabulous performances were topped off with an amazing performance of “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.”
The band also invited some special guests to join them on stage. Jackie Greene, a renowned singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, played guitar and sang on “Melissa”, a fan favorite: Ally Venable, a rising star in the blues scene, played guitar and sang on “I’m no Angel”, a Greg Allman classic; Larry McCray, a veteran blues guitarist and singer, joined the band for “Dreams”, one of the Allman Brothers Band’s most iconic songs, with Anders Osborne, a Swedish-born New Orleans-based musician, and Luther Dickinson, the leader of the North Mississippi Allstars and a former member of the Black Crowes, played guitar and sang on “Midnight Rider”, another Allman Brothers Band classic that had the crowd singing along.
The show ended with that rousing rendition of “Midnight Rider”, one of The Allmans’ signature songs that featured all the guests on stage — 20 of them. In all, with a short break in the middle, the performance was still over 3 hours, and is one of the best shows this writer has seen this year. The band thanked the fans for their support and left them with a feeling of joy and satisfaction.
The Allman Betts Family Reunion Tour was more than just a concert. It was a celebration of a musical heritage that has influenced countless artists and fans. The band proved that they are not living in the shadow of their fathers, but carrying on their spirit and vision. As Devon Allman said in an interview, “We’re not trying to be the Allman Brothers Band. We’re trying to be ourselves, but we’re also honoring where we came from.”