Both Devon Allman and Duane Betts, of The Allman Betts Band, kindly granted Hamptons.com an interview in anticipation of the duo’s upcoming East End gig. With a new album/CD, Down to the River, and a July 5th Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center (WHBPAC) performance, these “guitar masters” were kind enough to talk about a host of things. They are superb musicians and performers with wonderful successful stories.
Devon, although the son of Rock Hall of Fame musician Gregg Allman proudly recalls how his mom bought him his first guitar, “It was a Mexican $10 acoustic with the thickest neck. I was around 13-years-old.” Amazingly, Duane Betts, the son of Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dicky Betts recalls his first guitar, also at age 13, being a “Paul Reed Smith” that his dad bought him. Up until then, Duane actually wanted to be a drummer!
Devon, although he uses some of his dad’s guitars in the show now, his first personally purchased guitar was “a 40-year-old Fender Stratocaster.”
When I asked them at separate times what surprised them the most about when they finally got together to play, their answers were similar, although expressed completely differently. Devon instantly said, “I knew we could play the songs, but the really good chemistry surprised me. We have really good chemistry.”
Whereas Duane Betts started with how he knew they were both accomplished, polished musicians and knew the same songs. He noted, “There was no doubt we could mess when we played.” But what surprised Duane pleasantly was “how easily we could write good songs together.”
Many times being the son of a legend can be a tough situation. Not so for these two, although in completely different beginnings. Duane has had a wonderful relationship with his dad the whole time. He proudly told me he didn’t have to buy his first personal guitar because he always had the pick of any of his “dad’s collection to use.” Devon on the other hand did not have a real relationship with his dad until he was a teenager. However, by the time they were both in their twenties they were performing in various bands separately with their legendary dads.
Devon fondly recalls, “One time after a show someone said my dad wanted to see me in the office. I thought I was in trouble. When I saw him, he told me how well I played and took off his gold Rolex watch and gave it to me.” Devon wears it proudly to this day.
For Duane, it was a bit different with his dad always being extremely supportive of him. “He was always supportive, but I remember one night when the band was cooking, I mean really cooking he gave this look and smiled. He didn’t say anything he didn’t have to; musicians know that look, it was a great feeling.”
Separately both Devon and Duane complimented each other. Devon talked about Duane’s “guitar chops, singing and overall professionalism.” Whereas Duane said, “Wow his voice, he can really sing a song. I really just enjoy hearing him sing songs.”
Surprisingly, when asked what’s their favorite beverage, Duane said, “A cappuccino in the morning but I love southern sweet tea.” When asked the same thing Devon said, “Water, juice, or a cold beer.”
Their sets are a mix of original stuff with a mix of the legendary songs their dads made with the Allman Brothers Band. Make no mistake about it, these men are professional accomplished musicians who played two decades among the best musicians in the world while touring and playing with their dads’ bands.
But playing live music is not a nepotism sport. You either have that special talent or you fall by the roadside but fast. The Allman Betts Band along with their new album/CD, Down By The River, are a fast-rising tide in the music world.
The Allman Betts Band will be at Guild Hall in East Hampton on July 6 as part of the Guitar Masters series.
Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center is located at 76 Main Street in Westhampton Beach. For more information, call 631-288-1500 or visit whbpac.org.