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Interview:
Devon Allman at Saint Andrews, 3 Things To Know
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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After a decade of recording -- with bands and as a solo artist -- Devon Allman decided a little change was in order.

It's not drastic change, mind you, but the new "Ride Or Die" is mines a notably broader and more diverse sonic terrain than the son of Gregg Allman's two previous solo albums, for his work fronting Honeytribe and as part of Royal Southern Brotherhood. It's by design, of course, and in keeping with the desire for musical exploration that runs through Allman's family lineage.

Allman makes his home in St. Louis now and is on the board of the National Blues Museum there. But when you dig in there's a lot more music that makes up his own sound...

Allman considers his approach to "Ride Or Die" a conscious change, but not necessarily a surprising one. "For the last 10 years it was probably a cerebral approach where I really wanted to fit into the blues-record category," Allman, 44, explains by phone. "I wanted to make records that would sell to fans of the (Rolling) Stones and Gov't Mule. But on one hand I grew up on the Stones and B.B. King and (Jimi) Hendrix and all that, but on the other hand I did grow up on the Clash and the Cure and the Smiths and R.E.M. So I think this time I was like, 'Y'know what? You have your fan base. You've earned your stripes. You don't need to squash any influences. Why don't you, in fact, bring them together and allow them the light of day?' So I really wrote a record for me, for the first time, not worrying about what category it would fit into."

Allman himself handled most of the guitar playing on "Ride Or Die," something that he's been building up to throughout the years. He does acknowledge that the family name -- he is Duane Allman's nephew, after all -- exerts a certain pressure, but Allman feels confident he's carved out his own style and sound. "It can be a little intimidating because you get a lot of, 'Hey, play the slide! Play 'Whipping Post!' and you think, 'How many times can I (expletive) hear this?! I'm my own human being!'" Allman says. "But if you put your nose down and you grind out the work and now go look back at a decade of hardcore work around the world and nine records out, that's how I got to the point where I could make 'Ride Or Die.' It was like, 'Look, I've proven myself. Let's have some fun here.' I don't see 'Son of Gregg Allman' under my name anymore; I see 'From the Allman Family,' which is more of an extension of the story. That makes me happy. But with anything I had to go and kinda prove myself."

For the record, however, Allman HAS played "Whipping Post," the Allman Brothers Band's signature epic. "Years ago I was in between bands and a joined a Grateful Dead cover band for a month, this band called Schwag," Allman recalls. "They were actually really good, and for...grins we did 'Whipping Post' a handful of times. It was fun. It was good to do. And I gotta tell you, I...hate the Grateful Dead. But they asked me to hang out and lay with them, and I thought it'd be interesting, it'd be a challenge. And it was. I learned a lot from playing those song."

The Devon Allman Band with Rusted Root

Friday, Nov. 18. Door open at 7 p.m.

Saint Andrews Hall, 413 E. Congress St., Detroit.

Tickets are $22.50.

Call 313-961-6358 or visit saintandrewsdetroit.com.




Web Site: www.saintandrewsdetroit.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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