Temperatures outside may have been chilly, but inside things were about to heat up as the band took the stage at the beautiful and surprisingly crowded Carolina Theatre.
The band consists of three sons of the original Allman Brothers Band lineup: Devon Allman (son of Gregg), Duane Betts (son of Dickey Betts) and Berry Duane Oakley (son of Berry Oakley). As you would expect, they are heavily influenced by their father's band. The lineup is completed by a more than worthy group of players: Johnny Stachela (guitar, vocals), John Ginty (keys), R Scott Bryan (percussion, vocals), & John Lum (drums).
The show kicked off with a song about a girl born into a lifestyle of Airboats & Cocaine. A massive video wall behind the band helped to highlight various portions of the story. Up next they played a track from their debut album called Shinin'. Stachela got to show off his slide guitar chops on this number. I'm sure he's spent more than a few hours listening to the great Duane Allman. Speaking of Duane - it didn't go unnoticed that two of the members were named after the late guitarist who had recently passed away just prior to their births. Let's also tip the hat to Widespread Panic drummer Duane Trucks, nephew of Allman Brothers Band's Butch Trucks and brother of Derek Trucks. That's a lot of Duanes!
The lead track, All Night, from their debut album, was next. A southern rocker that glides into a great dreamy section at the end. At the set rolled on the group announced they are working on a new album. They played a song called Magnolia Road that will appear on that release. This was followed by Autumn Breeze from their current album.
The crowd got noticeably excited when they started the Brothers' classic Ain't Wastin' Time No More and Blue Sky. Both covers executed flawlessly - you can tell these songs are part of their musical DNA.
They then played Mahalo - a hard rocker written by Devon Allman and first appeared on his 2006 Honeytribe release. Duane Betts was featured next with his song Taking Time, that originally appeared on his 2018 EP Sketches of American Music.
Devon switched to an acoustic guitar for Good Ol' Days - a song about the passage of time and the ups and downs of life. The crowd roared when they played the first notes of In the Memory of Elizabeth Reed - arguably one of the greatest instrumentals ever. This version was highlighted by an impressive psychedelic visual show on the giant screen. The band wrapped up the set with the title track from their album, Down To the River. With a little bit of encouragement from the band - the whole crowd joined in for a sing-a-long.
The band took a short break and then came back for an encore with a special guest in tow. Greensboro transplant and longtime guitar hero Eric Gales! Gales and the other guitarists got so show their chops on a cover of Prince's classic Purple Rain. I pulled out my phone and got much of this one on video.
They kept Gales on stage and wrapped up the evening with another Allman Brothers classic, Trouble No More which featured Berry Duane Oakley on the lead vocals.
We will never be able to see the Allman Brothers Band perform again, but at least their musical spirit lives on within groups like The Allman Betts Band!
- Lee Crumpton
- Photos by Jerry Friend