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Allman Betts Band at Michigan Theater, 5 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Friday, February 7, 2020

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The Allman Betts Band has pedigree that can't be beat.

The three principal members -- Devon Allman, Duane Betts and Berry Duane Oakley Jr. -- are all sons of founding members of the Allman Brothers Band. They were friends as children and are now collaborators as adult musicians -- with an album of their own, "Down to the River," and their fathers' legendary repertoire, which is a regular part of the new bands' performances.

It's a straddle between past and present, but it's one Allman Betts is happy to make, right now and in the foreseeable future...

Allman, 46 -- son of the late Gregg Allman -- says by phone that he, Betts and Oakley have been "family" for as long as they can remember. "I mean, we met when we were kids, and that's a pretty big thing for kids to go through, to be out of school and on a tour bus seeing their dads entertain people every night. It was pretty eye-opening. I think that just makes you close, and I might have gone five years without seeing Duane, but whenever I did it was a big hug and 'How the hell are you? How's your dad? Remember these crazy times and those crazy times?' It is like a family reunion."

Nevertheless, it took the three men awhile to embrace the Allman Brothers Band's music as part of their legacy. "There was hesitation for 30 years, but there's no more hesitation because it's the right timing. We've all done our thing. I've been in three, four, five different bands (including Royal Southern Brotherhood and Honeytribe). Duane has. Berry has. It wasn't like we HAD to do this, but we ended up having real chemistry -- unforced, organic -- and we wanted to make music together."

Allman Betts began life after Allman invited Betts to take part in a December 2017 tribute concert for Gregg Allman in San Francisco. While on the road, writing together seemed like a natural progression. "We knew that we had a lot of respect for each other and we would have a lot of fun together," says Betts, whose father Dickey Betts has been sideline by health concerns, "but we kind of took it one step at a time as far as what we expected out of it. We wanted to just go out and play some good shows and have a good time playing music, and whatever came out of it, would come out of it."

The duo's first song together was "Long Gone," the "Down By the River" album's closing track, after which Allman says the duo "raised our eyebrows, like, 'OK, we can obviously write together. Let's try another one,' and it just went from there. At the end of the day it's all about the songs -- the songs we wrote and the record that we made."

Betts says that he, Allman and Oakley are "definitely out there to be our own band and play our own songs." But both he and Allman feel like it's "natural" to incorporate the Allman Brothers into their shows as well. "It's a fine, fine line to walk," Allman says. "If we hit the stage and did a two-hour show and played all Allman Brothers, that would just weird. It would be a tribute band, and that's not what we're into. if we also go on that stage and didn't play one (Allmans song), that would be weird, too. So we need to tip our hats. It's appropriate."

The Allman Betts Band performs at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, at the Michigan Theatre, 603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor. $35-$75. 734-668-8463 or michtheater.org.

Web Site: www.michtheater.org

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