The Allman Betts Band recently released their second album, Bless Your Heart, on 180 gram, double-LP, gatefold, clear coke bottle vinyl and they’re also about half-way through a socially distanced tour which has been taking in drive-ins and outdoors venues. The tour has been a great place to catch the band debuting new songs, and you can check out the remaining dates and locations below.
Like their first album, Down To The River, Bless Your Heart was recorded in Muscle Shoals and brings a live approach into the recording studio. Since then, however, the band have picked up an even wider array of Rock styles, giving the album a broad sonic appeal. Back when the album was announced, we talked with Duane Betts, and you can still catch up with that conversation here, but we also spoke recently with Devon Allman for a quick Q&A while on tour to ask him about the tour, about the new songs, and even about his new record label Create Recordings USA.
Hannah Means-Shannon: I think there had been an east coast tour scheduled earlier in the Spring that had to be shelved. Is the current tour close to your original plans? How did you decide locations and how best to support venues?
Devon Allman: We had to pretty much shelve the whole year. It was disheartening to lose our Australian tour, our first tour of Japan, and our joint tour with Blackberry Smoke. The current touring model is primarily relegated to outdoor venues, drive-in shows and indoor shows that are set up correctly to follow socially distanced guidelines. So it wasn’t too difficult to decide as we had our agency string up a run of dates with venues that were already able to put on socially-distanced shows.
HMS: Are you a vinyl collector, or do you prefer cassettes or CDs?
Devon Allman: I have a vast vinyl collection! I feel it’s the truest medium sonically. Although digital high-resolution music has come a very long way.
HMS: What do you think is the best part of giving music to someone else, like sending them an album you love?
Devon Allman: The best part of giving and sharing music is that you now have that love affair in common.
HMS: I know that on Bless Your Heart, you recorded at Muscle Shoals and there was a real commitment to a live sound, just like with Down To The River. Was there anything you picked up or learned between the two albums that helped get the outcome you wanted when recording Bless Your Heart?
Devon Allman: I think after having the band touring the world and making music together for over a year, we were just all around more equipped to dig deeper into what we can do and who we are as artists, collectively and individually. It really felt like a band effort bringing the songs to life.
HMS: What goes into coordinating a fairly large band on stage? How do you develop that ability to work in harmony? Did you learn that from other people, or while in previous bands?
Devon Allman: I think everyone in this band has enough experience to know the song comes first. So you play the song, not the instrument. It comes from years and years of playing music with people. Knowing when to lay back and when to lean in comes in time.
HMS: You’ve played with many musicians in many bands, so what advice would you give to learning to work with a lot of musicians of different personality types and styles?
Devon Allman: Vibrations are everything. You can tell which musicians bring a selflessness to the table but that can also balance that with an ability to own their instrument.
HMS: How have you found the musical styles that most inspire you, or is that still changing?
Devon Allman: I love so many musical styles: Jazz, Rock, Blues, etc., etc. They are all spices that go into the recipe. A good chef doesn’t limit himself to seasoning, but rather reaches further for things that will take everything to a different level.
HMS: With the song, “Should We Ever Part”, the title sounds calm and reflective, but that is an electric guitar song and reminds me that you used to like Metal, though the drum parts sound more Western. But it is also a that looks to relationships and the idea of need and dependence, with a Blues wail. Can you share any insights on the song?
Devon Allman: “Without you I’ll die alone.”, is a pretty brutal statement in that song. It’s definitely the most urgent song of the record. I remember coaching the band into really coming out full bore swinging from the first note.
HMS: “Carolina Song” recently debuted on your tour. What do you think made the song special to the band and why did it get a spot on the album?
Devon Allman: It’s just an instant classic kind of riff. It reminded me of 70’s Rolling Stones and Black Crowes. When you can actually hum a guitar riff, you know it’s gonna be a good one.
HMS: I heard that you now run a record label. Can you tell us about getting that set up and what you’ll be carrying?
Devon Allman: Yes, my label released it’s first album last year. Jackson Stokes is a gifted singer/songwriter and guitarist, and we are pleased that he chose to start his career with us at Create Records USA. My plan is to sign an artist per year. I’ll Produce their record and then have them be the opening act on our tours. I just want to nurture artists and give them a platform to build careers.
Too much bottom-line corporate thinking has poisoned the nurturing aspect of what record labels are supposed to do for artists in the last couple of decades. Most record labels are extremely lazy, unorganized, and lack the vision of seeing past a single or album, unfortunately. There used to be a true long-term pride that record labels had for their artists and that pride existed without the artist having to be super-successful.
HMS: Would you like to give a shout out to three great albums that you think people should check out if they haven’t yet?
Check out the rest of the Bless Your Heart Socially Distanced Tour at the following dates and locations and get tickets here.
11/15 @ Evie’s Golf Center on Bee Ridge | Sarasota, FL
11/16 @ Funky Biscuit | Boca Raton, FL
11/17 @ Funky Biscuit | Boca Raton, FL
11/19 @ Oceanfront Bandshell | Daytona Beach, FL
11/20 @ Centerplex Coliseum Drive-In | Macon, GA
11/21 @ Columbia SpeedwayEntertainment Center | Cayce, SC
11/22 @ Hart Theatre at The Egg Center | Albany, NY
*All Covid-19 local and national safety guidelines will be in place. Patrons must wear masks and practice social distancing at all Allman Betts Band live performances. Further info is available through the individual venues.