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Allman Betts Band live online, 5 Things to Know
The Allman Betts Band, like its forebear the Allman Brothers Band, is not one for wasting time.
The troupe formed by Allmans progeny Devon Allman (son of the late Gregg Allman) and Duane Betts (Dickey Betts) and including bassist Berry Oakley Jr. released its debut album, "Down to the River," during 2019 and has its new "Bless Your Heart" on tape for Aug. 29, just 14 months later. It takes the troupe back to the famed Muscle Shoals studio in Alabama, working again with co-producer Matt Ross Spang and primary co-writer Stoll Vaughan.
The ABB has its roots on the road, of course a tough fit in these pandemic times. So the septet is making due with monthly virtual shows, as well as a selection of live nights at drive-in theaters until it can start touring again in earnest.
Allman says by phone that for the second album he feels the band "is more developed." "When we went to go make the first record we had never even played as a unit all together. So what you hear on ('Down to the River') is the first of the band, very much the first steps. This one is us really kind of knowing what we possess with this seven-piece band and the confidence of having a couple hundred shows under our belt and the confidence that comes with that."
Allman and Betts add that the familiarity allowed the ABB to "stretch the framework," sonically, on "Bless Your Heart." "('Down to the River') set a really good, positive foundation, musically to build off of," Betts says. "Once you have that foundation set and settled, your leaping off point for the next thing is even higher. You can really go for more, be more ambitious. That's what we wanted to be with ('Bless Your Heart'). We had a lot more confidence."
Allman and Betts also determined they wanted to keep the creative team from "Down to the River" together for "Bless Your Heart."
"If you have that comfort level, why change it right away?" Betts explains. "Maybe down the line at some point you might want to change it up, but we felt like we were just getting started, so if it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?" Allman adds, "We had a little more to say within that context of Stoll and Matt. I think where we go next is to shake it up."
"Bless Your Heart" also features a lead vocal from the third Allman progeny, Oakley, on "The Doctor's Daughter," his first with the group.
"We loved his song," Allman says. "We added a little, bolstered the chorus a little bit, and we encouraged him to take the vocal and, since he wrote it on piano to actually play piano on it and he nailed both of em. That freed the bass role for me. I was ecstatic to do something a little different than the norm."
With the Allman Brothers no longer active, the Allman Betts Band is filling a particular musical niche. But while Allman calls that responsibility "an honor," he adds that this is no retro-leaning unit.
"It's a challenge because of the great architects that came before us. It really lights that fire in you to make sure that what you do is sincere and is your own. We're getting to a place where we can rise to this challenge, we can throw some stuff into that long body of work our heroes did and feel good about it."
There was some talk about delaying "Bless Your Heart" because of the pandemic, but Allman says that "I think the best thing we could've done is put this record out now and not shelve it to wait to go tour behind it."
"This way we can stay connected to our people and hopefully watch the audience continue to grow," he says. "It's a perfect time for them to fall in love with this record, and then they'll be jumping out of their skin to see us play live, whenever that day comes."
The Allman Betts Band performs from Red Room Sound Studio in Torrington, Conn., at 8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 23, via nocapshows.com. Tickets are $15.
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