Devon Allman on going solo, the blues and continuing the Allman legacy
Devon Allman was raring to go when he picked up the phone on the road to Barrie, Ontario. “Yeah, c’mon!” he said when I asked if now was a good time to talk. The musician was one month deep into his latest solo tour: on July 2, at Portland’s Safeway Waterfront Blue Festival, he’ll get to open for his famous father in a full evening of Allman music. Gregg, the former Allman Brothers Band singer, will headline the festival’s first night after having to drop out of 2014’s event due to illness; Allman Brothers founding drummer Jaimoe will bring his latest group, Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band, to the stage as well.
The younger Allman, now 42, was born just months after the Allman Brothers Band released “Eat a Peach.” He started learning guitar at age 13, beginning his career in Honeytribe and going on to form the blues supergroup Royal Southern Brotherhood with Cyril Neville, Mike Zito, Yonrico Scott and Charlie Wooton. In recent years, he’s carved out time for his solo work: his latest album, 2014’s “Ragged & Dirty,” was recorded in Chicago with Buddy Guy producer Tom Hambridge. We talked about that Chicago sound, how he’s passing the family legacy down to his son and becoming “officially” busier than his dad.
You’ve been on the road for a month now, how’s the tour going?
DA: It’s been going great, man. I did four years with Royal Southern Brotherhood, so (this) has been the first time that I’ve been able to kind of concentrate on my discography.
You didn’t release solo albums until recently. What does it mean to you to be doing music under your own name?
Devon Allman talks blues, Chicago and being an Allman prior to NYS Blues Fest show
Devon Allman could have coasted through a career with his surname alone. In the world of rock ‘n roll, being an Allman is like being a Kennedy — you’re born into prestige.
But much like Jakob Dylan (son of Bob) or Nora Jones (daughter of Ravi Shankar), Allman has proved hesitant to cash in on his revered heritage. Rather, he’s forged his own path as a blues rocker, forgoing opportunities to piggyback on the success of his famous father, Gregg.
Still, the two run in similar circles. Allman has spent the past four years playing with Royal Southern Brotherhood, a supergroup of sorts that includes Yonrico Scott, drummer for former Allman Brothers guitarist Derek Trucks’ band.
Lately, Allman has been exploring solo work. Last year, he released “Ragged & Dirty,” a gritty, Chicago-influenced solo album. He hit the road this year with his eponymous band — a tour that comes to the NYS Blues Fest Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.
I caught up with Allman last week via phone from Augusta, Ga. to talk about his Blues Fest gig, playing with Robert Randolph, the end of the Allman Brothers and his latest album.
Devon Allman Gave His Son The Real Rolling Stones Experience
Devon Allman took his son to see the Rolling Stones on their US tour – but deliberately kept him away from experiencing any VIP treatment. Allman says his 15-year-old is used to watching him play – and has seen Devon’s father Gregg in concert many times. But he wanted his son to experience a live show the way most people do.
He tells Oregon Live: “I’m like, ‘It doesn’t count when you’re on the side of the stage and everything’s free and there’s no waiting in line and no sweating. I want to take you to a real concert, no VIP. You know, like, nosebleed seats and I want you to wait in line for an hour to get that t-shirt.’
“I just wanted him to experience a concert how it really is and he had a blast.”
Allman is enjoying life as a solo performer, having left supergroup the Royal Southern Brotherhood earlier this year.
His latest album was 2014’s Ragged & Dirty – and he recently discovered he’d be sharing a stage with dad Gregg at the Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland, which runs from July 2-5.
Allman says: “I didn’t know he was on the bill. It’s always just cool being able to catch up backstage. A few years ago, I officially became busier than him, as far as just volume of touring and the clip at which I’ve been putting records out, so I never get to see him.”