The sons of three legendary rockers have recaptured the magic of their parents
Southern rock group Allman Betts Family Revival took Capital One Hall on a rocking journey Tuesday night (Dec 5th) in Tysons, Virginia. Fronted of lead singer and guitarist Devon Allman, vocalist and lead guitarist Duane Betts, and bassist Berry Duane Oakley, each member is the second generation of original Allman Brothers Band members. That’s Gregg Allman, Dickey Betts, and Berry Oakley, respectively.
Oakley was not present at the Tysons show, instead filled in by guest Tal Wilkenfield. She blended with the group effortlessly and delivered vocals on the Allman Brothers classic “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More” to enthusiastic response.
To hear Allman and Betts take up the instruments their fathers played is to make a kind of singular magic in the realm of “next-generation” bands. Looking at them is to stare through a looking-glass at Allman Brothers’ heyday. They eerily resemble their elders in both appearance and skill.
The group, eight in all, works as a super tight unit. They seem to breathe together as they drum, pluck, and strum. This tightness allows for an easy looseness to freestyle on numbers like “Blue Sky.”
Yet, the freestyling never veers into self-aggrandizement. How many soulful jam bands have you rolled your eyes at because they dragged out 5 musical buttons for 10 minutes leaving you in painful anticipation of the song’s end? One dear friend has an apt response to this kind of instrumental bloviating: “Yes dear, it’s very big.”
No such problem here. The jams were purposeful and joyful. The kind you toss your head back and away from side to side as you let the music wash over you. Allman Betts has made this reporter realize that quality jams should always immerse the listener and carry them away. There is no finer example of that than this band.
Early on in the night, Capital One Hall was treated to blues legend Larry McCray on “Soulshine.” What this man did on a Flying V guitar would make BB King proud.
Other guests included Jimmy Hall burning up the harmonica and giving a powerful vocal on “Statesboro Blues,” Ally Venable bringing down the house on “I’m No Angel,” Jackie Green on “Melissa,” and Ghalia Volt led “Pony Boy.”
Later in the night, the group tackled “Ramblin’ Man” with guest vocalist Andrea Osborne, and closed with “Midnight Rider.” Both are rock songs in their day that have grown to sound more like country music as time has gone on. The kin of the legends who made these songs famous once again time warped the crowd with their note-perfect rendition.
Accepting that a storied group is gone and that only the music remains is often the toughest pill to swallow as a music fan. But once in a while, a group with the right chops and connection to that musical legacy comes along and recaptures just a sliver of that magic to give back to the fans. And if the rafter-raising raucous the packed crowd made is any indication, Allman Betts Family Revival astonishingly does this.