Tuesday 10pm: Feature LP: Allman Betts Band – Down To The River (2019)

July 2, 2019
Editor In Chief

As their name makes plain, the Allman Betts Band continues in the tradition of the Allman Brothers Band. Devon Allman and Duane Betts — the sons of Gregg Allman and Dickey Betts, respectively — formed the group in 2018 with the intent purpose of celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the foundation of the groundbreaking group of their fathers. By playing classic Allmans tunes, the Allman Betts Band kept the Southern rock torch burning in the 21st century, but Devon and Duane also made sure to write new material too, releasing their debut Down to the River in June 2019.

To form their group, Devon Allman and Dickey Betts recruited bassist Berry Oakley, Jr. — himself the son of original Allman bassist Berry Oakley — organist John Ginty, slide guitarist Johnny Stachlea, and percussionists John Lum and R. Scott Bryan. Working with producer Matt Ross-Spang, the band recorded the album that became Down to the River at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama. The record appeared on June 28, just prior to the Allman Betts Band launching a summer tour.

Devon Allman and Duane Betts make no attempt to hide their lineage. The pair are the sons of Gregg Allman and Dickey Betts, two of the founding and defining members of the Allman Brothers Band, and they’ve named their band so it rhymes with the group of their famous fathers. More than that, their 2019 debut album Down to the River consciously evokes the sound of the Allman Brothers Band. The pair don’t attempt to expand the Southern-fried hybrid of blues, rock, soul, and country; at times, it feels like they’re spinning such classics as “Melissa” and “Ramblin’ Man” for their own purposes, alluding to these classics as a way to both nod at their audience and connect with them. Such direct acknowledgment of their roots can mean that the Allman Betts Band open themselves up to direct comparisons with their fathers, but decoding Down to the River as a series of references and influences misses the intent of the duo. Allman and Betts are intentionally following in their footsteps of their fathers, so they’ve chosen to work with a limited palette, one that cherry-picks the best moments of the past. If Down to the River isn’t as adventurous or hungry or exploratory as any Allman Brothers Band album, there’s nevertheless a deliberately cultivated warmth that’s designed to appeal to Allman fans-and, given a shot, Down to the River may well appeal to that audience.

AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

1 All Night 04:44
2 Shinin’ 04:29
3 Try 02:54
4 Down to the River 04:43
5 Autumn Breeze 08:42
6 Good ol’ Days 03:38
7 Melodies Are Memories 04:04
8 Southern Accents 04:32
9 Long Gone 06:32

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