By Anita Stewart, Managing Editor and Photos by Chyrisse Tabone, Editor
Show Review: The Allman Family Revival at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center in Sarasota, Florida
Date of Show: Friday, December 3, 2021
Patterned after the Band’s The Last Waltz from 1976, a concert that ended up hiving into a full-length movie and two albums, the Allman Family Revival tour honors Gregg Allman of the Allman Brothers Band. This current tour is organized by Gregg’s son, Devon Allman of the Allman Betts Band; a celebratory concert with some of the Allman Brothers greatest hits played by friends and colleagues of both bands. And at the same time, it gives the participating artists an opportunity to play their own music while putting their own unique spins on Allman Brothers songs—proving how music connects us all. The list of guests for the Sarasota show included Lilly Hiatt, Eric Gales, Robert Randolph, Donavon Frankenreiter, Luther Dickinson, Cody Dickinson, Joanne Shaw Taylor, Lamar Williams, Jr, Jimmy Hall, Art Edmaiston, and a special appearance by Frank Hannon of Tesla. Other participating artists are being added to specific cities and legs of this tour. Please see the complete list of performers HERE.
The tour spans the weeks surrounding his birthday which will be celebrated on December 8th at the legendary Beacon Theatre in New York.
The Allman Betts Band has been a long-time favorite of Rock at Night. In the past, we reviewed live shows in Pittsburgh, PA and Clearwater, FL as well as interviewing Devon Allman and Berry Duane Oakley last June (click HERE to listen to the podcast).
The band rolled into Sarasota after some logistical snafus right before their previous show in Atlanta earlier in the week. Without a minute of downtime, this was a three-hour sold-out show that brought back loads of memories, applause, sing-alongs and standing ovations.
Van Wezel is a beautiful hall and the perfect place to see the performance. The acoustics inside the venue and lighting were superb—not to mention having comfortable seating.
There were so many spiritual moments during this show. At one point, Berry Duane Oakley (bass) told Devon that all three of them–the sons, Berry, Devon and Duane Betts—were playing their father’s instruments for the same song. Serendipitous much? While Jimmy Hall of Wet Willie was working the audience, Duane Bett’s dog Willie walked onto the stage–much to the delight of the audience. Duane’s wife made a brief appearance as she tried to retrieve the dog to lead him backstage. Concertgoers in the first row tried to reach the stage to pet the dog as the audience roared with laughter.
The show was opened by the River Kittens who also accompanied the Allman Betts Band on their last tour. We had a chance to interview the ladies earlier in the summer (check out that podcast HERE). They performed my favorite “Dressing on the Side,” a song that pays homage to waitresses everywhere. The girls joined everyone else on stage later doing background vocals. As each musician came out, they did a song and then were joined by others for an Allman Brothers song. Loved the format!
The Allman Betts band interspersed some of these short sets with their own material and did a few covers from the old days like “Blue Sky” and “Dreams.” I don’t want to reveal too much about this show and blow surprises for future concert goers attending these performances, but my two favorites of the night were Eric Gales and Joanne Shaw Taylor. Eric Gales is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to guitar and he is on the short list for being one of the greatest players. His wife joined him on stage and so did Lamar Williams Jr. and they rocked and funked it at the same time! Observing Devon and Joanne on stage together reminded me of the same musical chemistry exhibited by Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi.
This was definitely one of the best shows I have seen lately! Be sure to get your tickets for any of the upcoming shows quickly as these could be sell-outs! And the word is out that the Allman Betts Band will be releasing their third studio recording in the latter part of 2022.