Dear Mr. Devon Allman,
What a trip to be writing you on what would have been your father's 75th birthday. It was an honor and a privilege to be your guest at the 12/7/2022 Allman Family Revival performance at the Durham Performing Arts Center. Last night's show had so many dimensions. Billed as a Gibson Guitar sponsored tribute to your father's life and music, you put together a very unique and entertaining evening! It was like I attended a sort of mash-up of an all-star tribute to your father, a showcase of artists from your Create Records label, as well as a meeting of the sons of very famous American musicians club. In addition, the artists hail from just about every major blues town in America.
Given my role is to review the concert, I will share my thoughts and observations (as well as a lot of background info for our readers).
Opening with Samantha Fish and Jesse Dayton were a great choice as the proverbial warm-up act. Their first song, an innovative cover of Brand New Cadillac by the Clash, was a total surprise and took a while to place. For our readers who are unfamiliar, Fish is a Top 10 Best Blues Guitarist, according to Guitar World Magazine. Very fashion conscious, Fish's black leather dress and white stiletto heels really set off her white Gibson SG. She played slide using a classic cigar box guitar on a song with lyrics referencing you get what you pay for. I understand that you and Samantha go way back as she appeared on your first solo album in 2013.
Billed as the "Brass Knuckles Tour," fellow guitarist and record producer Jesse Dayton is probably best known for his work with outlaw country musicians like Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Waylon Jennings. He has toured with Dick Dale and his 1st prototype King guitar from luthier Jason Burns uses a Bigsby tremolo. Fish and Dayton have a new album Death Wish Blues (Rounder Records) coming out this spring. Other songs performed included Get Rich, May have to Do It and Good Morning New York City (I couldn't track down the precise song names). As a duet, they also performed an acoustic cover of I'll be Here in the Morning by Townes Van Zant. I had trouble classifying their sound as it is very heavy for the blues. They may be exploring and creating a new genre that we can name Gangsta Rockabilly. The five-piece band was quite proficient and at one point the drummer really left it all out on the floor!
My understanding is that this is your sixth annual tour as the Allman Family Revival and that this year also serves to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the EAT A PEACH album. Many would consider Eat a Peach to be your father and the Allman Brothers Band's best album. Tonight, we were treated to performances of Ain't Wasting Time No More, Blue Sky and Melissa.
Your show opened with Wash in G-minor, Fired Up, and Sahara, an instrumental with an Arabian feel and imagery. We all enjoyed the psychedelic kaleidoscope imagery and the 4-piece percussion section which included Alex Orbison (son of Roy Orbison) and John Lum on drums. R. Scott Bryant and David Gomez served as your percussionists. Jackson Stokes was an enthusiastic guitar partner during the opening segment. Stokes is a co-writer on your Billboard Blues #1 album "RIDE OR DIE" and member of The Devon Allman Band as well as your first artist signing at Create Records.
Duane, son of Dickey, then joined you onstage for a delightful rendition of Blue Sky. Later in the show you mentioned that instead of having them sit under glass somewhere, you brought out your father's guitars. Duane got killer tone out of his classic gold top Les Paul. Luther Dickinson (son of recording artist and producer Jim Dickinson) provided some stellar guitar work mostly on a Gibson 335. It was fun to see him sit in on keys. Luther is the front man for the North Mississippi Allstars and also appeared on your solo debut album.
Create Records recording artists The River Kittens performed Greg's Come and Go Blues, Larry McCray, sporting a Gibson Flying V performed a version of Warren Haynes' Soulshine. Larry recorded a moving gospel inspired version of the song in 1993, a year before the Allman Brothers Band released their version.
Jimmy Hall was a member of several Greg Allman and Friends Tours in the mid 1990s. Hall recorded 7 albums with Capricorn Records, a storied southern rock label. Duane Allman was recruited by Capricorn founder Phil Walden after he heard Duane play on a FAME Studios (Muscle Shoals) recording of Wilson Pickett. It is claimed that Allman and Walden jointly put together the Allman Brothers Band. Music historians cite the group's third release, At Fillmore East, as the impetus of the rise of southern rock as a popular music genre. At Fillmore East was the first gold album for both the band and label. The partnership would garner more top-charting releases with Eat a Peach, Brothers and Sisters, and Win, Lose or Draw (Wikipedia) & other notable Allman Brothers tunes performed during the evening were Statesboro Blues (with Hall), Dreams and Southbound.
Surfer songwriter Donovan Frankenreiter was brought to the stage with a big humorous introduction worthy of a renaissance man. His original song Move by Yourself explored yet another musical genre. This was the evening's most funky song. It featured a B3 organ solo from John Ginty. Ginty was a founding member of Robert Randolph's Family Band. Throughout the night Ginty also appeared to be the musical director cueing various song segways. Chicago native blues guitarist JD Simo broke the mold and performed on a road worn Fender Tele. His stage presence and tasteful solos won the crowd over during Dreams and at other times during the evening. I would be remiss if I didn't mention bassist Justin Corgan who was right in the pocket all night long. I would also be remiss if I didn't reference how great Duane was throughout the evening and how great your chemistry is on stage together. When you do those classic, call them dual harmonies on guitar, it just lights up the room.
Your show just kept building. It was great that you got the River Kittens and Maggie Rose to provide backing vocals. Throughout the evening David Gomez also provided some very tasteful saxophone solos. If I have any criticism at all, I do believe that, at times, the extensive guitar solos were over indulgent. Once again, at times this detracted from the performance. I also would have liked it if you had allowed time for a mildly extensive drum / percussion solo. Finally, Ginty could have been more prominent in the early phases of the performance. Having seen the ABB do several seminal shows at NYC's Beacon Theatre, it is really tough to not draw comparisons.
Whipping Post featuring Maggie Rose was many fans highlight of the evening. History shows that Gregg Allman was 21 years old when the song was first recorded. It is amazing that the song dates back to when The ABB was first formed. Maggie is a recurring participant at Nashville's Grand Ole Opry and made her 50th appearance in 2018. The HAVE A SEAT was released in 2021 and represents a transition from Country to R&B.
Two encores wrapped up the evening. These Days, a Jackson Brown, composition originally appeared in 1973 on LAID BACK. It was performed as a duet between Devon and Maggie. The show ended with another fan favorite Midnight Rider. It was great of you to tell us that you want to return to Durham next year due to the rapport with the audience. It is amazing that 4 generations are now fans of your father's musical legacy. I saw your AXS TV interview Katie Daryl on YouTube where you likened this tour to The Band's Last Waltz. That is a pretty fitting analogy.
Thanks again for the tickets,
Words by: Mark Winston
Photos by: Jerry Friend